The PC – a dying empire

Desktop PC

Desktop PC losing favour?

Much as masters of the desktop and laptop – Microsoft and Intel – may wish otherwise, the PC market is declining as consumers ditch PCs in favour of tablets. Analysts Canalys – recording the PC market falling 6.9% and the tablet market growing 65.2% – are just the latest to record the trend, notes David Manners.

If you take the ‘PC’ market to include tablets, which analysts Canalys do, then tablets represent half the PC market and Apple is market leader with 19.5% of the market.

This overall PC market, as defined, declined 6.9% last year while tablets grew 65.2%, says Canalys.

Empires wax and wane, of course, and the interesting question is always: Why?

According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire fell because of orgies, drink and self-indulgence – but that was a Victorian view. The Romans also did well when they were engaging in orgies, drink and self-indulgence.

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The British Empire waned because it spent all its money, and more, stopping the Nazis from ruling Europe.

But Wintel is probably the only empire ever to wane through boredom.

The rows of look-alike PCs in the shops eventually bored the heck out of people.

At work people resist having a new PC forced upon them because they’re no better than the old one while changing is hassle.

Last year Intel and Microsoft spent $20 billion on R&D and changed PCs how much? Zero.

Apple spent $4.5 billion on R&D last year and brought out the iPad Air which cuts the weight of an iPad from 1.33lb to 1lb and produced a new iPhone which, for beauty, beats the best of the rest by a country mile.

How on earth, one wonders, can Wintel deliver so little to consumers after spending $20 billion on R&D?

The answer is rotten leadership. A company, like a fish, rots from the head down, noted Intel founder Robert Noyce.

Despite Vista, despite Windows 8, Microsoft still cannot see it itself as others see it. Getting swept up in self-indulgent innovation which upsets customers means that the boss isn’t looking at the company from the outside.

The same thing applies at Intel where the iCore 3, 5 and 7 designations baffled consumers, the addition of cores made little apparent difference to performance and the descriptions of processing generations lost all connection with measured reality. As with Microsoft, Intel’s CEO apparently didn’t recognise these customer annoyances as issues to be addressed.

There are head-in-the-ivory-tower CEOs and get-out-and-about-and-listen CEOs and the recent Wintel CEOs have been of the latter stamp. So Wintel had its days of wine and roses but, as the saying goes, they are not long.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may

Old time he is a’flying

And that same scam which thrives today

Tomorrow is a’dying.

Tags: Apple, desktop, Intel, microsoft, PC, tablets

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