Monday, September 1, 2014

Personal Computers: To be or not to be!

Forecasting is essential in every industry and for firms in the industry to be prepared to adapt to changing trends. The landscape of the tech. industry, one which has been among the fastest changing industries, was largely dominated by personal computers (PCs) for the past two decades. Of late, however, predictions of the demise of the PC industry have become quite common. Many analysts predict that PCs might get obsolete in the next 5 years, if not already. The recent decline in PC sales by 10% has strengthened this argument. The good news is that most of the large players are adaptive and have already begun R&D in tablets that are believed to be the future, which in turn are accelerating the PCs decline.

Declining sales alone do not mean that PCs are on the way out. Changes in consumer preferences and usage also have a role to play. Tablets and smartphones have overtaken the PC in delivering the convenience of browsing the web, checking emails and using a variety of other applications that do not require great processing capacity. When we look around, we can see most of us accessing a smart phone or a tablet to perform tasks, which were earlier reserved for PCs. The entertainment market is completely dominated by these substitutes, as they are able to offer much better customer experience with the help of accelerometer and gyroscope - features not available in a PC. The mobility advantage also gives these products an edge. Advancements in technology which allow consumers to stream entertainment channels on their tablets has further diminished the role PCs played earlier.

While the lay user might say that he does not need PCs anymore, they are eager to know how soon that might be. IDC has given an optimistic view that it will slow down in 5 years but the difference in their previous predictions were quite high compared to the reality which suggests that they might become obsolete sooner.

Thought the advancements in technology have been rapid, I still wonder if these substitutes can replace the PCs for high-performance applications. Even today, the PCs, with all their drawbacks, are the best bet to run reasonably heavy-data applications such as GIS and other programming applications. Do you think the tablets we hold in our hand can perform these tasks? Will the tablets just be limited to perform the simple tasks we use them for or will they have the capacity to perform heavy data tasks?


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