Computer sales are set for massive decline, ousted by the growing popularity of laptops, tablets and smartphones... if you believe the headlines. Look past the hype and it’s plain to see the PC’s demise is nonsense. So why aren’t people buying desktops so frequently?
For one thing, PCs last longer. Whereas once there was a constant need for more processing power – hence you regularly bought a new machine – that’s rarely an issue now. Even the budget laptops we review these days are more than fast enough for most people’s needs. And that’s probably also the case with the PC you bought four years ago: you just don’t need a new one yet.
‘Customers want mobility, not a bulky PC’ is an argument often cited by analysts, yet portability isn’t a factor for everyone. Tablets have their place but, if we’re brutally honest, they’re still gadgets, non-essential toys if you like, and cannot compete with a PC in terms of productivity.
Who in their right mind would give up their large, high-resolution screen and mouse and choose to edit photos or home videos on their tablet or smartphone? It’s eminently possible to do so, but far from preferable.
Take the brilliant all-in-ones from Dell and Apple. Their 27in screens are ideal for seeing the details in photos and video, while keeping the editing tools in view. These stylish, space-saving PCs are underrated, in our view.
Another credible reason for the slump in PC buying is that people are choosing a laptop instead of a desktop. Trading screen size for the benefit of a full-blown Windows experience that you can use on the sofa or even when travelling is a compromise worth making for many.
However, it’s possible that manufacturers are pandering too much to the concept of a laptop that can convert into a tablet, thereby becoming all things to all men. These hybrid or ‘convertible’ devices with rotating, twisting touchscreens are perhaps too confusing (or aren’t being properly demonstrated instore) and put off prospective buyers.
You could even blame Windows 8, reviewed, with its radical Start screen and associated learning curve, but the fact remains that people still turn to Windows PCs for productivity. A recent survey carried out on behalf of Intel by IDC in June showed that 83 percent of respondents were more productive on a PC than on a tablet or smartphone.
This highlights where PC makers could be going wrong. People want to buy inexpensive laptops and PCs that are simply good at getting things done, without them trying to be an oversized tablet as well.