There’s been many articles talking about the death of the PC and the rise of tablets. Some of these articles point to PC sales data stats, discussing the fact that while people seem to be going out and buying iPads and Android tablets and so on, they aren’t going out and buying the old traditional PC.
My question is – why the hell would they?
Now – back in the 90’s I upgraded to a new computer every year. But back then every 18 months you felt Moore’s Law kicking you. If you were a gamer, you had to keep upgrading your CPU, Graphics Card, RAM and often motherboard because if you didn’t, the latest game ran like a PowerPoint slide show.
But something has happened in the last few years. The gaming rig I purchased 2 years ago seems to run cutting edge games – for example MechWarrior Online in full screen 2560x1600 without dropping as much as a frame. Computers have gone from having a service lifespan where 3 years seemed ancient to one where 5 years looks more like middle age.
The same applies to laptops. Sure, the batteries give up after a couple of years, but there are a large number of sites around that will ship you cheap replacements. My wife’s laptop (an ASUS Lamborghini VX2) has had it’s battery replaced runs fine and we got it 5 years ago. Unless something spectacular goes wrong with it, we’ll probably be using it a couple of years from now.
So is it that we’ve reached a “Post PC” era – or is it that PCs have reached a level of maturity where their lifespan is more similar to that of the family pet than it is a mayfly? PCs aren’t selling fast because after a few years they still manage to do the job you purchased them for as well as they did the day you unboxed them.
This will naturally delay the adoption of new operating systems – as most people only get a new OS when they get a new PC (the exception to that is Apple, who with their method of incremental OS upgrades, have their users neatly treadmilling to the next version).
So next time you hear about PC sales slowing, consider that for most people, that 4 or 5 year old computer they got back in 2007 or 2008 is probably still doing everything that they want it to do and even the gamers who bought a state of the art rig in 2010 are probably pretty happy with their computer’s performance.