Deloittes: End of the PC Era Begins in 2011

I posted an article a few days ago about the death of the netbook (here). Now I have just finished reading an article (here) which is basically about the death of the PC starting in 2011. The article refers to a Deloittes prediction that smartphones and tablets will outsell the PC in 2011.

The cornerstone for this prediction is that there are far more people who ‘consume’ computer content than produce it and people who consume content don’t need a full-sized PC; be it a desktop PC or a notebook PC. All they need is a smartphone or a tablet. As more and more people realise that it is easier and more fun to consume computer content where they are, doing what ever they are doing—which smartphones and tablets allow them to do—then fewer will be the people who will be buying full-sized notebook or desktop PCs.

Only those people creating serious content (professionals) will need PCs because, for the next three to five years at least, smartphones and tablets will not have the horsepower or the screen real estate to do image editing of 20MB images (produced by today’s digital cameras) or edit digital video in order to prepare it for posting to the Web.

But when it comes to content consumption smartphones and tablets are already more than up to the task. They can be used to surf the Web, download files, listen to music, watch videos, get e-mail, compose and send small e-mails, view and manage calendars (appointments, etc.,), create ToDo lists, use facebook or twitter or whatever other social sites that come and go, make simple notes, play many games (being those games that do not require intense screen rendering), read e-books, check Google maps, view pictures, etc., etc.

It is even possible to do limited word processing and spreadsheet work on most tablets although it is my experience that touchscreen interfaces are not suited to these two tasks—however new approaches, interfaces, and techniques yet to be built into these types of applications might help overcome these issues in the next two to three years.

If Deloittes are right then during 2011 the content consumers will rapidly move away from PCs in preference of highly portable smartphones and tablets. This will just leave serious content creators and corporations still opting for a real PC. And as the ratio of content consumers to serious content creators plus corporate users is something like 15:1 you can start to see why there might be something in the Deloittes prediction.

Interestingly 2010 was the best year ever for PC sales with worldwide sales of branded PCs hitting 351 million (according to Gartner Research). It is estimated that a further 17 million non-branded (clone or compatible ‘shop built’) PCs were sold in 2010, making total sales of PCs for 2010 to be 368 million. That works out to over one million PCs being sold every day of the year; 42,000 PCs sold every hour of a 24 hour day.

Also I clearly recall a Gartner Research article about October 2010 saying that corporate purchases were low in 2010 but they expected corporate PC refresh cycles to converge in 2011 with Windows 7 upgrade plans and that this would boost PC sales through 2011. I wonder if the corporate PC fleet refresh effect can push PC sales up enough for 2011 not to be the year that the era of the PC starts to come to an end? Maybe its 2012!

I must try and remember to review the status of this PCs vs. smartphones and tablets tussle at the end of the year and see what the outcome is.