The Death Of The PC Has Not Been Greatly Exaggerated

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How long has the mainstream media been saying the death of the PC is near? Fifteen years? Twenty? Ugh. :(

Every time the market for PCs doesn’t seem like it could get worse, it does. Worldwide PC shipments saw their biggest drop in nearly two years, market researchers said this week, reaffirming the ascendancy of mobile and the steady demise of the personal computer.
 

Obi_Kwiet

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There's less and less reason to upgrade, especially for general use. PCs are just viable for longer these days.
 

kbrickley

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I find it amusing that a product type that sells more than 250 million units in a year is being discussed as dying (more than the consoles sell in their product life and few are talking about the death of consoles) ... PCs are also available in "mobile" platforms through both notebook and tablet form factors so I don't see mobility killing the PC, just transforming it

Also, we have been fairly stagnant on the software front ... if we could have some breakthrough software that demands new hardware we could get a spike ... or a breakthrough technology like VR could also cause a spike and resurgence ... I think Michael Crichton put it best, “All major changes are like death. You can't see to the other side until you are there.” ― Jurassic Park :cool:
 

DogChainX

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Pffft....its because software hasn't pushed the hardware. How fast do you need a word processor to go? 5-6 year old computers are still very viable in most office and home settings. If you were using a 5 year old computer in 2000, you'd be looking at INSANE performance increase (Pentium 120MHz vs Pentium III 933MHz!)

Intel has pushed performance/watt efficiency since 2600K, not IPC. The days of doubling IPC and massive increases in clock rate for single-threaded performance are gone. think of 1990 to 2000...it was almost (sometimes more than) 50%+ performance increase per year.Now...its more like 10%...if that.

Until software that people want and need to use really starts pushing the hardware, we'll still have people using 2010 personal computers in 2020.
 

LOCO LAPTOP

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Pffft....its because software hasn't pushed the hardware. How fast do you need a word processor to go? 5-6 year old computers are still very viable in most office and home settings. If you were using a 5 year old computer in 2000, you'd be looking at INSANE performance increase (Pentium 120MHz vs Pentium III 933MHz!)

Intel has pushed performance/watt efficiency since 2600K, not IPC. The days of doubling IPC and massive increases in clock rate for single-threaded performance are gone. think of 1990 to 2000...it was almost (sometimes more than) 50%+ performance increase per year.Now...its more like 10%...if that.

Until software that people want and need to use really starts pushing the hardware, we'll still have people using 2010 personal computers in 2020.
Pretty much.
 

EODetroit

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Only laptops and tablets wear out, desktop users only upgrade when there's a good performance reason to do so, and since at least Sandy Bridge, there hasn't been one.

Good luck to those laptop users trying to stream video though, its the next big thing and your computer sucks at doing it.
 

Yakk

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The end is coming, THE END IS COMING!

Hmm, think I'll have the soup.
 

FrozenSteel

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What makes me laugh is that my father uses a Gateway with a Core 2 Quad Q8200 that he bought in March 2009 which is still on par with many of the Intel ULV processors. It came with Windows Vista with a Windows 7 upgrade (He ran Windows Vista for a whole year.) He was going to buy a new computer until Microsoft decided to give Windows 10 free as well. He said unless it breaks (which I'm surprised it hasn't yet being a Gateway over 6 years old), there's no reason to buy a new one as the one he currently has runs all the latest software.
 

WaltC

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I can't believe there are actually people who think that cell phones and personal computers are the same thing, or interchangeable...;) Guess what, people buy a lot more underwear than they do cell phones--does this means "the death of the cell phone is inevitable"..? Anyone who thinks a cell phone equates to a PC is an idiot, imo...! Despite all the screwy marketing rhetoric in the world, not even Apple thinks PCs are done--I'll believe Apple thinks PCs are over-and-out when Apple stops selling Macs. Apple surely knows the difference between cell phones and PCs, even if some unfortunate people still can't process it...looking at the cell phone market tells you nothing about the PC market...
 

rive22

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This may happen for the average household user, but the death of the PC entirely? I definitely don't see this happening anytime soon. Too much of everything that is relied on is created through software that requires a proper content creation user interface and pc horsepower.
 

FireBean

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the only reason why the media keeps pushing this is to get page hits. The PC is never going away, it is here with us like the Car....

Sure... the car will evolve into something like from Star Trek... image what the PC will do. :D
 
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To answer Steve's rhetorical question, the first time I saw the death of PC gaming proclaimed was an issue of PC gamer in 1995. Not sure what month, but it had Wing Commander 4 on the cover with promises of a review inside. I didn't buy the mag, but I skimmed the article and it claimed that since you could buy a Sony Playstation with better visuals for $300, PC gaming must be on its last legs. Within a year, of course, the 3dfx Voodoo showed up to shame and embarrass the PS1's visuals, and we've been having the same stupid debate every few years since. :)

I do believe, however, that the productivity PC is dying. When they finally standardize a reliable and high quality protocol to wirelessly connect a smartphone or tablet to a monitor or HDTV, especially if that device is running Windows 10 and seamlessly switches to desktop mode once you plug in a monitor and bluetooth keyboard / mouse, there will officially be no compelling reason to buy a low-end PC. PC's for games, photo or video editing, design, and financial trading are not going anywhere, however.
 

Anemone

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Right up there with the "paperless office" for the past few decades...

PC's last a bit longer, not a lot of challenging applications, but they do get "old" so they don't last forever. So the cycle is a bit longer.

There are always slowdowns before a new OS release. I'm surprised that this slowdown didn't start in Q4 of 14. But people like to buy new hardware that "is built with" the new OS in mind, so postponing in Q2 is not abnormal. We as techies often tell people to do exactly that, "wait till Win 10 is here then go get your new machine".

I think it's funny how, after some period of years of using a tablet, people suddenly run out and buy a pc since they realize half of what they wanted to do needs more than a table to do it. I think of this age as "distributed computing". It's not that phones and tablets are replacing PC's and lowering our amount of computing work done. Rather we come to a given computing related task and we choose which device fits to get the task done. And with people living on budgets, some years they replace a tablet or phone and some years they replace the PC.

Summer is always a rough time in the business anyway. People are outside, not inside. And school and the "need something new" doesn't really hit the market till late August.

They sky is not falling :)
 

sir-gold

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We have seen the exact same kind of decline in pre-built PC sales in the months leading up to EVERY major windows release. So this current decline is nothing new, and there will be a major upswing in sales right after win 10 is released.

Part of the problem with "PC sales" is that it only measures the sales of pre-built PCs, which are a different category of user than the people who build their own.
These pre-built buyers aren't going to install their own OS, and as the release of windows 10 gets closer, they are more likely to delay their purchases until after win 10 computers appear in stores.

A separate issue, between pre-built and self-built buyers, is that the pre-built group is far more likely to abandon the PC platform entirely for an alternative such as smartphones or consoles, while a self-built PC buyer is more likely to remain loyal to the PC.
This means that as more pre-built buyers switch away from PCs, the current method of measuring PC sales (based only on pre-built) will become progressively less and less accurate. In theory, we could end up in a situation where the "official PC sales figure" reaches zero, simply because they only measure 1 of the 2 types of PC buyers.

If they really wanted to get an accurate measure of PC sales, they would count the number of motherboards/cpus sold, instead of the number of pre-built PCs.
 

pxc

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If it's this bad driven primarily by consumer segment erosion, it's going to get much, much worse as the corporate segment starts switching to cloud based virtual desktops. PC life will be extended even further, and sales drops could be much steeper.

All hope isn't lost. Most major component makers provide parts for both large OEMs and channel. The consolidation shake out from a smaller market probably isn't going to be pretty. System builders should still be fine if they can live with smaller selections.
 

Ashbringer

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The truth is we aren't making PCs faster. If you own a 2500K you're good even for today's gaming. How much faster is Skylake going to be? Enough for a Haswell owner to upgrade? Probably not. How many cores do we add to CPUs that aren't getting used by applications, not even games? The software isn't evolving either, especially the games. We're limited to what consoles are capable of.

If you don't play games then you don't need anything beyond Core2Duo. Quantum computing is never going to happen cause it has to be super cold to even opperate, and it's like multicore CPUs on steroids. We have simply hit the max we can do with computers. We can only marginally increase performance with design changes and new material, but nothing double the performance of the previous generation.

Computing will only be interesting again until artificial interference and we're a few hundred years away from that. Think Data from Star Trek.
 

PersonalJ

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We have seen the exact same kind of decline in pre-built PC sales in the months leading up to EVERY major windows release. So this current decline is nothing new, and there will be a major upswing in sales right after win 10 is released.

Part of the problem with "PC sales" is that it only measures the sales of pre-built PCs, which are a different category of user than the people who build their own.
These pre-built buyers aren't going to install their own OS, and as the release of windows 10 gets closer, they are more likely to delay their purchases until after win 10 computers appear in stores.

A separate issue, between pre-built and self-built buyers, is that the pre-built group is far more likely to abandon the PC platform entirely for an alternative such as smartphones or consoles, while a self-built PC buyer is more likely to remain loyal to the PC.
This means that as more pre-built buyers switch away from PCs, the current method of measuring PC sales (based only on pre-built) will become progressively less and less accurate. In theory, we could end up in a situation where the "official PC sales figure" reaches zero, simply because they only measure 1 of the 2 types of PC buyers.

If they really wanted to get an accurate measure of PC sales, they would count the number of motherboards/cpus sold, instead of the number of pre-built PCs.
Very few people build their own PC, total PC sales has an impact on the amount of money companies like Intel and Nvidia put into R&D for certain platforms. These companies are clearly chasing mobile and embedded devices, previously those resources would be allocated towards PC related products.
 

nilepez

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There's less and less reason to upgrade, especially for general use. PCs are just viable for longer these days.
Exactly. My current system is 5 years old. I don't think any other primary system lasted more than 3...maybe I hit 4 once.

I find it amusing that a product type that sells more than 250 million units in a year is being discussed as dying (more than the consoles sell in their product life and few are talking about the death of consoles) ... PCs are also available in "mobile" platforms through both notebook and tablet form factors so I don't see mobility killing the PC, just transforming it

Also, we have been fairly stagnant on the software front ... if we could have some breakthrough software that demands new hardware we could get a spike ... or a breakthrough technology like VR could also cause a spike and resurgence ... I think Michael Crichton put it best, “All major changes are like death. You can't see to the other side until you are there.” ― Jurassic Park :cool:
So PC doesn't include laptops? I just assumed they meant mobiles/tablets. Regardless, I buy phones more often, because they improve more quickly. At some point, we'll buy a phone and replace it 5 years later.
 

Flogger23m

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There's less and less reason to upgrade, especially for general use. PCs are just viable for longer these days.
That is all there is to it. Phones are great to use outside. For really quick tasks, like checking the weather or directions (since you can use it in your car) the phone also makes sense at home. But I never sat at my PC and said "hey, I want to watch this movie on a screen 1/10th the size!" or "I wish I could a few paragraphs with my fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard!". A phone/tablet is just a hell of a lot slower, and it really is a pain using them.

No one is throwing away their computers. PCs are just lasting longer like other major appliances. Just because people don't run out to buy washing machines every 2 years doesn't mean the market is dead for them.
 

serpretetsky

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I find it amusing that a product type that sells more than 250 million units in a year is being discussed as dying (more than the consoles sell in their product life and few are talking about the death of consoles) ... PCs are also available in "mobile" platforms through both notebook and tablet form factors so I don't see mobility killing the PC, just transforming it
article isn't comparing to consoles, i'm not sure why they are relevant. The article is pointing out that PC sales are declining. Also, they factor in laptops as part of the PC sales. Laptops aren't as mobile as small tablets and smart-phones.
 

brettjrob

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That is all there is to it. Phones are great to use outside. For really quick tasks, like checking the weather or directions (since you can use it in your car) the phone also makes sense at home. But I never sat at my PC and said "hey, I want to watch this movie on a screen 1/10th the size!" or "I wish I could a few paragraphs with my fingers instead of a mouse and keyboard!". A phone/tablet is just a hell of a lot slower, and it really is a pain using them.

No one is throwing away their computers. PCs are just lasting longer like other major appliances. Just because people don't run out to buy washing machines every 2 years doesn't mean the market is dead for them.
I agree, as I'm sure most here do, but Joe Sixpack doesn't see it that way in my experience. So many of my non-tech friends and family use mobile devices for almost everything these days, even when they're at home with a perfectly good desktop sitting 10 feet away from the couch. And this is true even for some people still using a 4" pre-6 iPhone.
 

kac77

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I agree, as I'm sure most here do, but Joe Sixpack doesn't see it that way in my experience. So many of my non-tech friends and family use mobile devices for almost everything these days, even when they're at home with a perfectly good desktop sitting 10 feet away from the couch. And this is true even for some people still using a 4" pre-6 iPhone.
Correct. People when they are home consume media more so than create it. As a check, when was the last time you had to type out a very long email? Most people say what they have to say in under 250 characters which is completely doable on a tablet or mobile device.

When it comes to the future all content will be streamed even games. You still have about 5 years until it's really doable on a mass scale. When that happens PC sales will shrink even more.
 

kbrickley

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article isn't comparing to consoles, i'm not sure why they are relevant. The article is pointing out that PC sales are declining. Also, they factor in laptops as part of the PC sales. Laptops aren't as mobile as small tablets and smart-phones.
It is relevant in the sense that a console sells 10-20 million units a year and is considered a success ... a PC sells 250 million units a year and it is dying ... that is where I was going with that analogy ... there are still billions of profit and revenue in the PC market (and it is significantly more profitable than the mobility space) ... PCs aren't dying anymore than mainframes and supercomputers are ... even if its market is temporarily shrinking it can survive at that level or even lower levels ... and it could rebound in a heartbeat if a new technology like VR or Home Automation made it the platform or choice
 

Xpl1c1t

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I bet that the battery life benefits brought about by upcoming 14nm cpus/gpus will provoke a laptop market boom. Desktops... sorry, a full atx case is no longer as accepted in downsizing worldwide households. Total TDP for an "average" mid-tower home computer i bet is about 200-300watts, which should make skylake & kepler revolutionary products in multiplying the performance attainable at that TDP.
 
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Without the combination of nvidia/amd/intel putting out hardware 2x as fast as current hardware every six months there is no reason to buy a new PC
 

chaos4u

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Since these articles keep popping up i often wonder if they went through the agony of typing it out on a mobile device.

i wondered if the editor proofed through a mobile device as well.

i often wonder if these people have any clue as to where the majority of work gets done ?

just because the owner of a small business uses a smart phone as their primary communication device does not means his product and business is creating the end product on mobile also.

all those apps that are bought up for millions

the majority of art that those apps use

the majority of content created on you tube

the majority of all content that we watch read or interact with

the majority of research conducted

the majority of getting any thing done productive or creating something

comes from the pc.

so go stick your pc is dying banter up your rear.

the day the internet goes black and the media is gone, and we no longer are creating producing or playing. only then will the pc be dead.
 

MrGuvernment

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Factor in Console sales, Conoeles are now personal computers, as i have said for years "consoles are just becoming PC's.."
 

Flogger23m

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I agree, as I'm sure most here do, but Joe Sixpack doesn't see it that way in my experience. So many of my non-tech friends and family use mobile devices for almost everything these days, even when they're at home with a perfectly good desktop sitting 10 feet away from the couch. And this is true even for some people still using a 4" pre-6 iPhone.
True that a lot of people aren't using a PC as much, but I think most people still do when they plan on using it for more than a few minutes. Using a phone to even search a website is like using chopsticks to drive a car.
 

Advil

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If we have 7 billion people in the world and we put a smartphone in the hands of every one of them it does not make the personal computer any less necessary or viable than it was before.

The need for more powerful, flexible, upgradable technology still remains as it is.

In short, whatever. PCs aren't going anywhere.
 

nutzo

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If it's this bad driven primarily by consumer segment erosion, it's going to get much, much worse as the corporate segment starts switching to cloud based virtual desktops. PC life will be extended even further, and sales drops could be much steeper.
Cloud based computing? Not happening at the company I work for, even though we have free licenses from Microsoft that I could switch people to. Virtual desktops? not going to happen for the most part either. We have a terminal server available for some users, but that's just to make some apps easier/faster to run while they are traveling or working from home. They still have a laptop with everything loaded.

When Adobe switch to cloud based software, we stopped upgrading the software. When the manager of that department got the price quote for switching to the "cloud" version, they decided to just stick with the old version for as long as possible or use other tools.
We actually ended up saving money as we used to upgrade every other version. Now it's now been almost 3 years and we are still running the same version.
 

nutzo

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Desktops... sorry, a full atx case is no longer as accepted in downsizing worldwide households.
I'm still buying desktops for the office. Unless the user needs to travel, or take their computer to meetings, they get a desktop.
Even a cheap, basic desktop with an i3 CPU is faster than most laptops. They are also more reliable and less likely to be damaged or stolen. It's much easier to buy a cheap USB keyboard and mouse if someone spills a drink than to get a laptop repaired.

However I have downsized the desktops. I started mainly buying desktops instead of Mini towers a couple years ago, now I'm buying even smaller desktops that use laptop drives. Takes less desk space.
 

kbrickley

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I think the other thing these statistics don't consider is that we have created a society that is upgrading their phones every 12-30 months (much faster than PCs) and it isn't certain that is a sustainable model (cough cough Intersteller cough cough) ... at some point the mobility purchases will have to slow (as they mature) just as PCs did ... PCs aren't dying, they are just a mature technology right now (a place that the other mobility products will eventually reach also) ;)
 

Sovereign

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There's less and less reason to upgrade, especially for general use. PCs are just viable for longer these days.
This 9001x.

I gave my old gaming guts (Q6600, 8GB RAM, ip35 Pro mobo, GTX470) to a friend who uses...1680x1050. Those guts were viable for that res when I bought them (though I was running primary 1920x1200 at the time) and they still are.

Computers are getting much longer legs in the enthusiast space--what once required SLI (1920x1200 and 2560x1600 after it) is totally doable on a single non-dual-GPU card without turning settings down to lowest.

My parents' office PC has a Pentium D 830. The only upgrade that machine got was an SSD.

PC and PC part makers should look at what's happening to cars--my parents and grandparents tossed their first cars when they hit 50k. Now 50k is young and a well-maintained vehicle can push past 200k.
 

Supermr2

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I think the other thing these statistics don't consider is that we have created a society that is upgrading their phones every 12-30 months (much faster than PCs) and it isn't certain that is a sustainable model (cough cough Intersteller cough cough) ... at some point the mobility purchases will have to slow (as they mature) just as PCs did ... PCs aren't dying, they are just a mature technology right now (a place that the other mobility products will eventually reach also) ;)
This the new models just aren't THAT much different than last years. Also all the cell phone carriers are moving away from contracts that subsidize the phones. You were almost foolish to NOT buy a phone every 2 years for $99.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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I find it amusing that a product type that sells more than 250 million units in a year is being discussed as dying (more than the consoles sell in their product life and few are talking about the death of consoles) ... PCs are also available in "mobile" platforms through both notebook and tablet form factors so I don't see mobility killing the PC, just transforming it

Also, we have been fairly stagnant on the software front ... if we could have some breakthrough software that demands new hardware we could get a spike ... or a breakthrough technology like VR could also cause a spike and resurgence ... I think Michael Crichton put it best, “All major changes are like death. You can't see to the other side until you are there.” ― Jurassic Park :cool:
Well, it is relative. it is shrinking drastically. May still be large from a quantity perspective, but it is much smaller than it was not that long ago.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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This 9001x.

I gave my old gaming guts (Q6600, 8GB RAM, ip35 Pro mobo, GTX470) to a friend who uses...1680x1050. Those guts were viable for that res when I bought them (though I was running primary 1920x1200 at the time) and they still are.

Computers are getting much longer legs in the enthusiast space--what once required SLI (1920x1200 and 2560x1600 after it) is totally doable on a single non-dual-GPU card without turning settings down to lowest.

My parents' office PC has a Pentium D 830. The only upgrade that machine got was an SSD.

PC and PC part makers should look at what's happening to cars--my parents and grandparents tossed their first cars when they hit 50k. Now 50k is young and a well-maintained vehicle can push past 200k.
This is exactly it.


The most intensive thing 99% of users try to do on their computers is to watch a high resolution youtube clip.

A typical computer user does the following things:
  • MS Office (Word, Powerpoint and possibly Excel)
  • MS Outlook
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Web browsing
  • Storing and looking and pictures from theri camera. (not even editing them)
  • Stream online radio / spotify music

They never install or play a game, and if they do its flash based doodle jump crap or farmville, they never encode or render anything, they don't watch netflix (they want that on their TV's), they don't use photoshop or premiere or anything like that, they don't use CAD software (not that most modern CAD systems even really load a modern computer)

That and less and less of the web browsing is happening on computers anymore as they have phones and tablets.


So, the computers they have, even an Athlon 64 X2 or a Core 2 Duo from 2006 are probably sufficient for their needs.

(Heck even I was using a 1.5Ghz dual core Athlon X2 in my HTPC until about a year ago, and I'm quite a power user)

The amusing part is, that if most of these typical users knew how to (or even knew to askl about it in the first place) drop an SSD and a little more RAM in their existing computers, there probably would be even fewer sales.

Even though CPU and even GPU advances have slowed a bit year over year since their heyday, for what most people do, the demands on these systems have grown even more slowly.

So, there has been a massive failure on the part of OS/Software makers to find useful applications for all the computer performance we have today for regular people, which is why as of late, the emphasis has been more and more on low power, mobile parts, as most people are never going to see any benefit from a high powered part anyway. As a result of this, people don't need to buy new computers.

Now what is probably further exacerbating this is that a lot of people didn't like Windows 8. it's having a little bit of a Vista effect, with a lot of people holding off on buying a new computer until the next version of Windows.

We will probably see a little bit of a bump in sales after the Windows 10 launch, but other than that, I expect this trend to continue, until someone actually releases some software ordinary people want to use, which actually loads a modern computer.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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If we have 7 billion people in the world and we put a smartphone in the hands of every one of them it does not make the personal computer any less necessary or viable than it was before.

The need for more powerful, flexible, upgradable technology still remains as it is.

In short, whatever. PCs aren't going anywhere.
This is true.

No one is going to start typing essays, scientific papers, doing CAD design, etc. etc. on their phones/tablets any time soon.

PC's will still be necessary. They will just become a smaller and smaller part of the pie.

In a way it's a lowest common denominator type thing. People using highly mobile media consumption devices, and moving away from real computers that can accomplish real work, in favor of the "app" eco system of marginally useful junk software.

I have a phone and a tablet, and I use them out of convenience when I am on the move, but I consider them lesser devices I have to put up with when I am not in a convenient place to use my real computer.

There are a growing number of people who don't see it this way, and this concerns me, as it means over time we will only see more and more Windows 8 type mindsets among developers, where stuff is designed for the mobile masses and desktop use is either an afterthought, or crammed in in a multi-purpose way that just doesn't work well.

Or, you know, another way of looking at it for those of us old people who remember PC gaming before consoles is, the "crappy console port" experience is not just for games anymore...
 

serpretetsky

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It is relevant in the sense that a console sells 10-20 million units a year and is considered a success ... a PC sells 250 million units a year and it is dying ... that is where I was going with that analogy ... there are still billions of profit and revenue in the PC market (and it is significantly more profitable than the mobility space) ... PCs aren't dying anymore than mainframes and supercomputers are ... even if its market is temporarily shrinking it can survive at that level or even lower levels ... and it could rebound in a heartbeat if a new technology like VR or Home Automation made it the platform or choice
If consoles sell 10-20 million every single year then it doesn't really make sense to say that consoles are dieing or are approaching death, since there is no change. And if consoles are slowly selling more every year than they are succeeding. I don't see why it matters that they are selling 10-20 million a year. Is this trend declining, rising, or staying the same?


PC's are selling less and less every year. The industry is slowly dieing. Yes, you're right, it will most likely never completely die so I guess it probably isn't right to say the death of PC is approaching.
 
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