IDC Says PC Sales Continue to Decline, What Does it All Mean?

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Windows 8 has done little when it comes to stopping the continued decline of the PC market. This isn’t that surprising, as most analysts felt it wouldn’t make a big difference, at least not at first.

Interestingly though, research firm IDC says that the level of decline is worse than they previously predicted. For 4th quarter 2012 IDC states that 89.8 million PC units shipped, down 6.4 percent from the same period last year.

The bottom line is that this is the first time in over five years that PC shipments have declined during the 4th quarter, a time when most folks are shopping hard for holiday gifts. Outside of the 4th quarter results, the entire year saw a seven percent drop from 2011. So what didn’t Windows 8 make enough of a difference, IDC’s David Daoud offers up a possible reason:

Consumers expected all sorts of cool PCs with tablet and touch capabilities. Instead, they mostly saw traditional PCs that feature a new OS (Windows 8) optimized for touch and tablet with applications andhardware that are not yet able to fully utilize these capabilities.

I can honestly say, I agree. Sure, there were some innovative devices, but on the whole PC makers haven’t done enough to embrace the changes that come with such a bold new OS. As a result, both everyday consumers and enterprise users see little merit in Windows 8.

But honestly, it’s about a lot more than that. I haven’t completely agreed with the past sentiment that we are in the “POST-PC” world, but I’m starting to finally agree. That’s not to say that home computers and laptops are dying– they just aren’t appealing to the mainstream anymore.

Tablets, smartphones and even Smart TVs are filling gaps for consumers that just need to get on the Internet for socialization and other consumption purposes. People no longer want to sit at their desk and log into the Internet through a traditional OS.

This is why Microsoft brought out Windows 8 to begin with, they were hoping to bridge the gap and create something that would help them move into the tablet world while also bringing some consumers back to PCs.

Where do we go from here?

The age of the PC is ending, the writing is on the wall. We are in a period of transition. New technologies like cloud computing and tablets are pushing this change. New work ideas like BYOD policies are also fueling a revolution in the enterprise world.

So where is Microsoft’s part in all of this? If Windows 8 and future versions of Windows are going to be a success, Microsoft needs to show us how we can make our play, work and social life work seamlessly together.

I’ll warn you now, the rest of this article is largely opinion– you may agree, you may not. I’m not claiming to be right, I may have a limited viewpoint and could be missing the big picture. If you feel differently, you are always welcome to comment politely at the end of the article– I look forward to your feedback and am always open to different viewpoints.

With that out of the way…..

Consumers no longer want a TV, home phone, laptop, desktop and cell phone. They no longer want business and entertainment devices– they want one or two devices that can do everything. They also don’t want to pay a fortune. While the iPad is popular in many homes, it also has a lot of hype, hype that can’t last forever. The truth is that alternatives like cheap smartphones and Android tablets are beginning to steal away some of the iPad/iPhone thunder.

People feel that the Internet isn’t a privilege, it’s a part of life. Accessing the web and this connected lifestyle should be easy, and shouldn’t cost a fortune.

As far as desktops and Windows 8 tablets are concerned? Consumers want apps, but they don’t want complicated desktop applications.

Right now, Windows 8 tablets could be very appealing for power users that want the best of the tablet and traditional desktop world. But for average consumers? They want a cheap consumption device, they don’t need more. Windows RT had the potential to cater to this group, but so far limited apps, limited hardware and high pricing has kept RT from taking off.

I believe that Microsoft’s long-term strategy is to unite all fronts (Xbox, tablets, PC) and could work. They just haven’t got there yet. They are probably going to stumble more than once along the way, as well. Ultimately though, I believe Microsoft could come out on top– it just might take a while to get there.

Now I’ve spoken my piece, it’s your turn. So how about it, do you think we are in the post-PC world like Apple has said all along? If so, can Microsoft be part of it or is it too late for them to move forward?

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