Follow-Up: RIP PC

Pour a little more out for laptops and desktops.


We argued recently that the traditional PC, in its desktop and laptop guises, was looking at a very grim future where it is increasingly marginalized by newer tablet tech. So much so, in fact, that it will lose its status as a common device. It will, as the saying goes, “die.” Now there’s data to suggest this may be happening sooner rather than later.

Morgan Stanley is so confident in Apple‘s drive at the lead of the iPad market that it’s just bumped its bull estimate of Apple’s share price up to nearly $1,000 (it’s currently hovering around $550). The reasons, the bank explains, are pretty simple: It believes the earning power of Apple is better than investors believe and even its own previous bull case model implied, for the reasons that enterprise tablet adoption is due to rise the cheaper iPad 2 will push demand up, an LTE iPhone for late 2012 will spur huge growth, and there’s unexplored markets in China and new markets like Brazil.

Morgan Stanley’s math isn’t based on nonsense but expertise, and it’s echoed in a recent survey from ChangeWave Research that underlines notions that the iPad’s adoption in enterprise markets is set to skyrocket. About 22% of firms surveyed by ChangeWave said they were planning on buying tablets for their employees soon in 2012, and 84% of these respondees said they would be iPads.

Corporate markets are the traditional mainstay of the PC, be it powered by Microsoft software or another provider (including Apple’s), but a dramatic influx of tablet computers means that at least some of the computer burden of modern professionals will be met by tablets rather than laptops or desktops. We may guess that at first this is to appeal to the more mobile modern businessperson–someone who’s confident working from home or on the metro. But it’s equally possible that over time, maybe soon as tablet tech evolves very quickly (with the new iPad as an example), the tablet will soak up more of the computing needs of enterprise, and that habits that seem currently incompatible with tablets like paging through huge Excel models or putting together a graphical presentation will evolve to suit the new software. 

And lest you think this is just Apple in action, think again. Android tablets are consolidating their market share as the hardware improves and Google’s tablet-centric Ice Cream Sandwich Android OS spreads. Interest is already growing in Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 devices. In fact, TechNavio’s analysts have just predicted that the global tablet computing market will grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of over 20% for the period 2011 to 2015–that’s an astonishing huge figure. IDC, independently, surveyed the tablet market and concluded that at the end of 2011 the Kindle Fire did grab market share from Apple thanks to lower pricing (the trend will likely reverse now the iPad 3 is revealed). It also predicts that the global market will rise from 96 million shipped units in 2011 to nearly 260 million in 2016.


In context, Gartner predicts the global PC market will grow slightly this year, and next, and that 400 million will be shipped around the world in 2013. But it notes that tablets and cloud solutions are affecting sales, and tallied with IDC’s longer-term predictions you can conclude that by 2016 tablets will be far out-selling PCs.

It’s just the numbers, folks. But it’s also about technology and markets. Tablets may well see explosive adoption in growing markets thanks to their greater portability and lower prices, and tablet tech itself is developing at an incredible pace–faster, and with more innovation than is seen in the PC game.

[Image: Flickr user Am + Mo]

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