The Age of The PC Is Ending
IT’S unusual for someone to go through two entire technological revolutions in their own, one, lifetime, but I think it might be happening to me. Might have to hope I can hang on for another decade or so to see it entirely becoming true perhaps. But I’m referring to the rise and the fall of the PC.
Personal computer sales slipped even further in the run-up to Christmas, capping the worst annual decline in the PC industry’s history.
Research firm Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments for the three months ending in December dropped 7pc compared with the same period in 2012. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter of decreasing PC sales.
It means PC sales plunged a total of 10pc in 2013. Shipments of desktop and laptop computers have never fallen so dramatically. The numbers show that annual PC shipments have now dropped to levels last seen in 2009.
OK, we might not think that is all that dramatic: they’re still shipping 90 million or so after all, even with those declines.
But the point is that this is a very new technology indeed: the PC only really started shifting in any large numbers in the 1990s, and it didn’t even exist as anything other than for a few hobbyists before 1980. I certainly started my working life when accounts, even in large banks, were done with books and calculators, not spreadsheets.
And this whole technology is now on its way out. Sure, computers aren’t going away, but the PC is. To be replaced by tablets and smartphones, naturally.
Back in that day the PC was the technology with the fastest adoption of any other, ever. It took a good 50 years for electricity to get everywhere for example: and here we’ve got one that looks as if it will be born and also die within that timescale. And it’s also worth noting that the replacement, that smartphone, is now the technology with the fastest adoption ever. It didn’t even exist a decade ago and yet now more than a billion people get one every year.
It’s really very difficult to think, as some do, that technology is stagnating in some manner.