It's official. If technology doomsday predictions are to be believed, the death of the Personal Computer (PC) has just begun. Sounding the death knell is a Gartner forecast that projects that the PC market (conventional desktops and laptops) will decline by7.6 percent in 2013. Further, an IDC report confirms that PC sales fell by 6.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, as against the same quarter last year.
On the other hand, computing devices such tablets and ultramobiles are on the upswing. The most significant shift is expected in worldwide tablet shipments, with a 69.8 percent increase from 2012. Clearly, going forward, mobility will play a crucial role in influencing computing choices. Other factors driving the tablet's ascendency include cost efficiency, greater product variety, cloud updates and an increasing numbers of apps developed for tablets. Most leading hardware manufacturers have already responded to this trend, with the focus in product development shifting to tablets.
So will this be the end of the personal computer? This does not seem to be the case yet. While it is forecasted that tablets will emerge as the dominant computing device globally, it is expected that both power users and professional environments will continue to rely on the PC for their computing environments. However, they may increasingly rely on tablets, with a diminishing need to replace PCs.
Another key trend points towards the increase of smart connected devices. While the PC market continues to drop, IDC points to the increase in Smart connected devices that include PCs, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. This market increased by a whopping 29.1 percent globally in 2012.
A still nascent area that also has implications for this scenario is the extensive research on hybrid laptop-tablet devices by most hardware manufacturers. These move towards combining mainstream laptop performance with a tablet design and could mark an important evolution for the global personal computing journey. Other interesting experiments in this direction include MIT Media Lab's ‘future PC of 2019'- which is fact a variation on today's Smartphone.
Clearly, the last word in this debate has yet to be said. While the need for PCs may taper in the short term, the longer-term perspective points to a mix of computing devices. These may be led by tablets or other devices enabling mobility, but would by no means be homogeneous. Organizations will have to plan their IT portfolio to cater to this diverse and transitioning technology landscape.