Watch out, PCs. Based on the way some people are interpreting this chart, your days are numbered.
Tech pundits love to announce product killers. They also love proclaiming the death of a product or category like Dr. McCoy announcing the unfortunate passing of an Enterprise comrade. This week, it’s the PC that has once again been declared as slowly spiralling towards its demise. The proof? A chart showing unit sales over time that shows PC numbers levelling out over the past couple of years.
Business Insider’s Steve Kovach claims in his title that Asymco’s chart is “proof that the PC is dying.” In addition to stating that sales have started to go flat, he points out that the Mac has been steadily rising and that Android and iOS devices are enjoying explosive growth. Kovach is not-too-subtly hinting that the combined force of Android, iOS, and Mac are sucking the life out of the PC.
But does the chart really show that happening? Let’s start with the fact that Asymco is showing units shipped, not units sold. Those two numbers can be very, very different — just ask RIM to tell you how they line up for the BlackBerry PlayBook. Next, there’s the fact that several hundred million PCs are still being shipped every year. And what about the fact that Android and iOS are rapidly gaining ground? Does that matter?
Probably not. Android and iOS devices aren’t primary computing devices, and they’re not the main productivity machine for anyone just yet. Yes, there’s plenty that you can do on your tablet or smartphone, but it’s still not on par with a desktop PC or Mac. Their rise doesn’t indicate the death of the PC either, only that people have really gotten behind smarter mobile platforms, too.
Asymco’s companion blog post states that over the same period Android and iOS devices outshipped PCs by 358 million to 336 million. That’s interesting, to be sure, but it still doesn’t prove the PC is dying.
It would also be interesting to know what’s actually included in this data. There are, for example, hundreds (if not thousands) of off-brand Android tablets and smartphones being shipped around the world. Take a quick look at eBay or Merimobiles to see how inflated these numbers could be if they’re included. On the PC side of things, do the figures include the millions of enthusiasts who purchase parts and build their own computers? Or even small to medium regional computer retailers who do the same?
And even though the Mac is steadily climbing up the chart, Apple would need to ship more than ten times more systems than it currently does to equal the combined shipments of the PC makers who contributed to those 336 million units.
What do you think, Sync readers? Is the PC really a dying breed, or does this chart really indicate that people love to buy the “next big thing”?
(Image credit: Seth Joel/PhotoDisc/Getty Images)