Death of the PC… I Think Not


Ugh... if I hear one more time about the death of the PC...

I don't mind naysaying persay, although I try not to partake. It's very popular to be negative. Complainers are a plenty. A person can do better though than to spend their time getting frustrated as a response.

I I tend to enjoy more talking about what's good about this and that whether it's born out of a tech giant or a tech startup. I don't mind pointing out what's great about the competition. Where would we be without competition?

But the death of the PC topic is annoying because it is carrying so much more momentum than sense, and I don't like things that carry momentum and not sense.

Critics talk about the recent 14% decline in PC sales as if it's the locked trend that will soon see us into a world where PCs don't exist, and furthermore, they continue to attempt to tie the future of Microsoft to that number.

A couple of thoughts. First, 14% is not a linear trend to the demise of PCs. Second, Microsoft is decoupled.

To my first point, I think we are quickly headed into a world where PCs don't exist... at least, PCs as we now know them. The big box you slide under your desk - going away. The laptop that confines you to a mouse and keyboard and requires a special backpack - goodbye. The PC is already experiencing an evolution swift enough to call a revolution. Watch this Intel commercial for example.

"That's just dinosaur PCs taking their right place"

So what's with the 14% decline? That's just dinosaur PCs taking their right place. When my wife wanted to look up a recipe three years ago, she dragged her 75 pound Dell laptop out and looked it up. And it seemed great compared to trekking to the office to spin up a desktop. But today the dinosaur is simply not the right tool for the job. If we were contemplating a device purchase for looking up recipes, we would contribute to the 14% decline in sales by buying a tablet device that turns on faster, stows quicker, and can be held in one hand. And actually, that feature on the Surface where you can turn the page without getting brownie batter on the screen is pretty awesome too!

There are a lot more than 14% of the use cases that a tablet or a phone will do great, yet people are still using their dinosaur PCs for that. Why? Because they have them. Not everyone goes out and buys the latest gadget in its infancy. But they're not going to spend money on a new 15" screen when all they need is 8. We know that.

So expect to see PC sales drop. They'll take their right place, and consumers will be better off using technology that applies to the task at hand. But don't bet the farm that PCs are going to dye, because I know a lot of people that would sooner cut steak with a butter knife than use a get real work done.

And to my second point. Microsoft is not a static entity and does not have its future tied to the dinosaur PCs. Some components of Microsoft's business that I think you'd agree are significant mostly if not entirely immune - Azure, Office, Xbox. And even Windows has proved its agility.

Never underestimate the creative engine at Microsoft constantly innovating and pivoting to not only keep up with this higher tech world, but to lead where possible as well.

That's all.


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