Wednesday, August 26, 2015

PCs: "The news of my death has been greatly exaggerated!"

With Apple's iPad storming the scene, some felt that the PC was dead giving away ground to the tablet form factor. What I felt that Apple achieved with the iPad, was the "toasterfication of IT": turning the relative complex device in something that is easy to operate as a toaster. This lent it to be something that would a fan favourite with the elderly and kids.

Things don't look as rosy for the iPad. Fortune reported that "the iPad is the current leader in the tablet market, accounting for 24.5% of all tablet sales, its market share has consistently decreased by about 18% over the last few years".

Nick Statt of CNET posted a great article that discusses some possible reasons as to the declining fortunes of the tablet. Once seen as a PC killer, now is in a state of normalization. One could argue that the tablet is entering into the "trough of disillusionment" after slide down the "peak of inflated expectations". Nick explains in his article that mini-tablets have lost market share to the the phablet (as I have noted in previous posts, I strongly dislike this term. But phonelet isn't much better!). Quoting IDC analyst, Jean Philippe Bouchard, "When your phone is only an inch or two shy, what's the point".

I find his analysis dead on: when I migrated from the Blackberry, I went straight to the Samsung Note to get a larger screen that would be easier to type because I was so used to the physical keyboard. However, when I was contemplating getting the Nexus 7 from Google, I thought exactly that: why bother with the tablet when my Note is already a "pocket tablet"? 

When it comes to the larger tablet form factors, Nick points out that tablet owners are favouring to keep their iPads for a longer period of time and now are opting for the 2-in-1s (like Lenovo's Yoga line of laptops), which enable more productivity than the tablet counterparts.

Why is this the case?

It seems to me that people have realized that tablets are more of a consumption device rather than a productivity device: they are great for reading, listen to podcasts or watching videos. However, if you want to churn out a blogpost, document or even email - you need that physical keyboard.

Wall Street Journal also had an interesting op-ed pointing to the continued usefulness of the PC. Geoffrey Fowler attempts to convince us  that the next computer should actually be - wait for this - a desktop! Mr. Fowler, not without humour, mentioned how a friend asked him whether he still drove a horse and buggy!

Jokes aside, I think he does a pretty good job in pointing out that when you are able to connect remotely via multiple devices to cloud based software to get your work done, desktops make a lot of sense. In the article, he included the following link that points to the improved productivity (17% more to be exact) of using a full keyboard and mouse. The article includes a number of suggestion, including the HP Pavillion mini, which looks quite tempting (see the CNET preview below). Definitely agree with the tip about using the keyboard and mouse: I actually lug around my ergonomic Microsoft mouse and keyboard connecting to my work issued 2-in-1 Lenovo Yoga to save my wrists and neck.

The revised interest in the PC and retreat in sales of the iPad highlights the importance of being on top of tech trends and avoiding the "bleeding edge": executives should be sure of the business value of the technology before jumping the bandwagon.