It has been widely reported in the media that the PC is dying. With PC sales dropping last quarter by over 13%, many have predicted that this is the start of the decline of the PC for business and personal use. Although I do agree to some extent that the personal PC is not as important today as it was 5 years ago, and it will be less important as more people buy tablets and other portable devices, I do not believe that the PC has seen it’s days numbered for business and government use.
First and foremost, business software generally runs on PCs and not on tablets and other devices. Most of the companies that we work with use one or more programs that are exclusive to the Windows operating system. Many of these companies have looked into “Cloud” solutions for their software, only to find that the features are not comparable, or they end up being more expensive in the end. One good example of this is Quickbooks Online. The online version of this popular accounting software is great for ultra-small businesses, it lacks many features of the PC based version. Additionally, once you add up the monthly cost of the software, it is no less expensive than purchasing the retail version.
Screen size and usability is also critical. Over the past few years, screen size has increased dramatically, due to the low cost of LCD screens. Additionally, many users have increased their productivity by having multiple monitors on their desktop. Moving to smaller, single screen systems will cut down on productivity for many users.
Most business users are not mobile (yet). The big advantage to moving to the “Cloud” or using mobile devices is to allow users to work from wherever they are at. On the other hand, there is no reason to offer that to many workers. If you think about most office, retail, manufacturing, or commercial operations, most workers need to be working at an office, plant, store, etc., and will not benefit from working remotely. The PC still is a great investment for these employees.
Finally, many analysts have actually attributed the drop in sales to the lack-luster acceptance by the industry to Windows 8. When 8 was first released last year, it was difficult to find new PCs from major manufacturers that still offered Windows 7. Today, many manufacturers have realized that Windows 7 is the desired alternative for businesses, and have switched back to offering Windows 7. Additionally, with Windows XP retiring officially in April 2014, many businesses will need to replace those machines over the next year. I expect to see an upsurge of PC sales through the end of this year and beginning of next year.
Don’t count the PC out. The Desktop PC is here to stay for the long run and is still a great investment for businesses today.