Skip to comments.Itís Official: The Era of the Personal Computer Is Over
Posted on 09/17/2012 10:06:25 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
As a signpost on the road to the so-called Post-PC Era weve been hearing about for so many years, this one is pretty hard to argue with: As of this year, personal computers no longer consume the majority of the worlds memory chip supply.
And while it may not come as a terrible surprise to anyone whos been paying attention to personal technology trends during the last few years, theres nothing like a cold, hard number to make the point crystal clear.
Word of this tipping point came quietly in the form of a press release from the market research firm IHS (the same group formerly known as iSuppli). The moment came during the second quarter of 2012. For the first time in a generation, according to the firms reckoning, PCs did not consume the the majority of commodity memory chips, also known as DRAM (pronounced DEE-ram).
During that period, PCs accounted for the consumption of 49 percent of DRAM produced around the world, down from 50.2 percent in the first quarter of the year. The share of these chips going into PCs both desktop and notebooks has been hovering at or near 55 percent since early 2008, IHS says.
As shifts in market share statistics go, it at first seems insignificant until you consider the wider sweep of memory chips in the history of the modern technology industry. PCs have consumed the majority of memory chips since sometime in the 1980s. IHS couldnt say when exactly when the first personal computers started showing up in appreciable numbers in homes and businesses.
And where are all those memory chips going? Tablets and smartphones for starters. IHS says that phones consumed more than 13 percent percent of memory chips manufactured, and it expects that figure to grow to nearly 20 percent by the end of this year. Tablets including the iPad consumed only 2.7 percent of the worlds memory chip supply. The remaining 35 percent, which IHS classifies as other, includes servers, professional workstations, and presumably specialized applications like supercomputers and embedded systems. And given their rates of growth, IHS expects phones and tablets combined to consume about 27 percent of the worlds memory by 2013, while by that time PCs will consume less than 43 percent, making the decline, in the firms estimation, irreversible.
For PC-making companies, notably Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo, the shift marks the beginning of an overall decline in the importance of PCs in the overall chip supply chain. Memory chip makers like Samsung, Hynix and Micron will focus increasingly on winning the business of phone and tablet makers and over time concern themselves less with the needs of PC makers. PCs are no longer generating the kind of growth and overwhelming market size that can singlehandedly drive demand, pricing and technology trends in some of the major technology businesses, is how IHS analyst Clifford Leimbach put it. Depending on when you start counting it, took about two decades for the PC industry to sell its first billion units, a milepost that the research firm Gartner pegged to the summer of 2002. Judging by its annual global sales figure since then, it took about five years to sell the second billion, and about three more years to sell the third billion.
Last year, PC makers shipped about 353 million machines, an increase of about one-half of one percent, and it wouldnt surprise anyone to see the industry finish the year with a slight decline in shipments year-over-year.
No less a barometer of the PC industry than Intel lowered its sales guidance for the third quarter of this year, citing weak demand. It is currently in the midst of a campaign to both re-ignite market interest in PCs and attack the market for phones and tablets.
Compare the PC to smartphones. IHS expects people around the world to buy 655 million smart phones this year, which would amount to nearly twice the number of PCs sold last year and almost three times the number of notebook PCs that will sell this year.
And as for tablets, look no further than the iPad: For the last four quarters reported (Q4 2011 through Q3 2012), Apple has sold 55.4 million iPads, which amounts to only 5 million fewer than all the PCs that Gartner says HP sold in 2011.
So perhaps now the academic debates about where the Post-PC Era begins can come to a close. I remember the first buzz about it back in 2000 with consumer electronics makers like Sony jealous of being left out of the PC feeding frenzy brought on by the first wave of the consumer Internet craze tried to sell Internet devices that looked like PCs and served up the Web and email without costing quite as much as one. They didnt take.
PDAs like the Palm Pilot and Microsofts Pocket PCs made some progress, priming us for living with handheld devices that stored data we needed close at hand. The Blackberry and the Treo became the first of what we would call smartphones.
But the PC always held sway as the home base of any digital persons daily life. Now, its entirely possible, though not yet common, to get through modern life without one. Some people have sought to go paperless in their day-to-day lives by relying on tablets and smartphones for the things they used to print to paper. I wonder now if there may soon be a trend of going PC-less. Its not gone yet, but it is going.
I bet you posted that from a personal computer.
I personally hate tablets. I already have a smart phone, and a PC. Why do I need to have something in between?
You bet right :) ( And this PC runs on Vista, never found a reason to upgrade it yet ).
You’ll be just in time to get Windows 8. :)
I bet most phone and tablet apps were made on PC’s
Gamers and Simmers will stick with the PC.
The nice thing about tablets is that they do media very well. Whether it be reading, entertainment, or just general surfing. That is its niche. You can do these things anywhere, without having to have a plug nearby or having to sit down with some sort of table top to place your computer.
But I don’t see tablets being productive machines, where I would do most of my work. I want to be able to sit down for hours at a time, to get something. I also want a machine that will allow me to use my time as productive as possible.
RACE 07 (and GTR3, whenever it releases) FTW - for me...
In the last 6 years, I have purchased more than twice as many smartphone or tablet type devices as I have "personal computers". My 6 year old PC (currently my oldest such device in regular use) is still perfectly serviceable for video editing, image manipulation, CAD, etc ... the things I bought it for 6 years ago.
I wonder how my experience compares to the norm.
I feel like I only own a desktop for the few things I cannot perform — on various websites or complex printing instructions — on an iPad.
Yeah right... sure.
I like my keyboard. I like the mouse. I like my software. That could change over the coming decade, but it hasn't yet, and isn't likely given that potable technology keeps changing before the average person can learn to take full advantage of the operating systems.
Finally, some of the details of the recent stuff on my blog (x, why?) may have been doodled on an iPad, but the meat of each comic is still down on the PC.
I personally hate tablets. I already have a smart phone, and a PC. Why do I need to have something in between?
Your eyes are better and your fingers are smaller than mine, then. Can’t see or type on my phone that well. It will do in a pinch, like when you’re sticking in a waiting room and just have to freep. :). But the tablet is the perfect size.
I think people mistake durability for death. The fact is on the PC the technology is very stable, one no longer needs upgrades very often, you can pretty much keep your system until it breaks. Meanwhile the portable markets are built around being disposable, people replace their smartphones with every contract, and often want to replace them more often, and tablets run a similar fast turnover cycle. PCs no longer drive the market, but neither do microwaves, I know plenty of industries nobody thinks are dieing that would love to ship over 300 million units a year.
We use Tablets for professional surveying jobs. Phones can’t handle anything but the most basic of surveys.
I was more then happy with Vista too, then my machine died and I ended up with a new one and Windows 7. I like it, whether it's worth upgrading to? The most improvement I've seen has been in viewing media videos and the GUI is a bit different.
I have a monster gaming pc, a laptop, a nexus 7 tablet and a win7 laptop. Each have their place, but I expect big rigs to continue to lose market share. I expect laptops and tablets to merge like the asus transformer series.
I understand using them for certain professions like that, and doctors use them a lot now as well. However, I don’t see the point in owning one for personal use in my case.
I have problems trying to create spreadsheets, proposals and other docs on my smartphone. Fingers too big, eyes too bad. Luv my smartphone, but won’t get away from my laptops......... not even for pads.
” As of this year, personal computers no longer consume the majority of the worlds memory chip supply”
That means NOTHING. There are tablets, phones, cars, toys, game boxes, atms, kiosks, switches, routers, etc., all using memory chips. If PCs comprise 40% of usage and the rest fight over the 60%, PCs still are the big dog.
You have an iPhone or iPad? Good luck getting full use out of it without a docking PC or Mac.
Ironically, I am typing this on an iPod Touch. When I do real work (huge databases, audio editing, booklayout) a desktop computer is IT.
the analogy would be akin to saying that the era of the automobile is over because a majority of tires are now used on trucks, segways, bikes, motorcycles, wheelbarrows, lawn tractors, aircraft, trailers and RVs. They COMPLEmENT , not replace.
I got into computers in the first place because I wanted a word processor, to write books and articles.
One of my school friends and I taught ourselves touch typing, many years ago. I can’t imagine using anything but a regular keyboard and mouse, they are so much quicker and more natural.
I spend a lot more time on the internet now than I used to, but I still basically want to type, not go tap, tap with one finger on a screen.
I did go over from desktop to laptop computers, after the memory chips got powerful enough. My laptop sits on my desk, but I can take it with me when I go off somewhere else, and it has enough speed and power so a desktop is no longer necessary.
IPad? No thanks. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I need to trade in my current Windows 7 for a computer with Windows 8, but hopefully that will be worked out by the time it’s necessary. I have found it counterproductive to upgrade systems on an old computer, but I usually like to get the latest system on a new computer. Hopefully Dell or someone will offer the needed tweaks, if Microsoft is too stupid to do it.
Surprise!! So what else was there in the 80's to use those chips in, and what has changed since then? DUH! There's a lot more devices out there now-days.
Besides, people (and businesses) are holding on to their old PC's for longer periods of time now. Heck, I remember a time, long ago, when quite a few people bought new cars every 2 or 3 years.
Even a lot of us gamers are doing more upgrading to our rigs to keep it running and waiting until the old horse just won't run the new stuff at all before shelling out for a new rig.
Glad I held on to my IBM and Digital Equipment shares.
“Its Official: The Era of the Personal Computer Being Used For Productive Work Is Over”
People like me that spend most of the day lost in Word, Excel, Project, Access, and Visio will still use a desktop, preferably with two large screens attached.
I also believe people like me are becoming a minority.
I travel by air frequently and my trips to the lavatory are always a revelation. Anyone walking by me would find my laptop usually with an Excel spreadsheet up, and often with Project active. I'll walk to the lavatory and soon realize I am the only person on the plane not playing a game, watching a movie, or engaged in some other type of entertainment activity.
Everyone already has PCs. Why buy ram when you already have it?
Sure, just like laptops were going to kill the PC and just like COBOL would be dead and gone by 1985. Tablets have their place, for entertainment, non-developers and non-powerusers.
You want whoa? True story.
I’m on a late night flight, most people are asleep. There’s a guy three rows up, on the aisle, watching a porno movie on his laptop. About the time I noticed it, a flight attendant (female) came running down the aisle to talk to him. He gets a coat out of the overhead, puts the coat over the top of him and the computer, and keeps watching.
Flying HAS become an adventure, and I guess you could say he was putting the computer to some kind of “productive” use.
Of course the state of the World economy hasn’t a thing to do with it./s
I love my tablet. It is regular 8 1/2 by 11 inches and has 200 sheets of paper for me to write on. to delete I merely tear off the page and throw it in the waste basket. to save, I tear off the page and put it in a manila folder in my file cabinet. It never fails to work when the electricity goes off.
As my phone does not talk, it is a dumb phone. And I detest being PC about all sort of subjects instead of using words that actually have a meaning and stating my opinions clearly.
If this were a movie, the lights would have dimmed and all the activity in the room frozen. 300 renminbi is US $ 45. And that was the initial offer price given to a bewildered foreigner in China, no haggling. I felt a literal shock.
I bought the device and did some more research. This was a 7-inch tablet, Wi-Fi only with all the attributes of a good tablet. Capacitive touchscreen. Snappy processor. Front facing camera. 4GB of internal memory and an expandable memory slot.
I later found out that these devices are now all over the supply chain in Shenzhen. At volume, say 20,000 units, you can get them for $35 apiece. My device ran full Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and had access to the full Google API, including Gmail, Maps, YouTube and Google Play (not quite sure how that works either).
Once my heart started beating again, the first thing I thought was, I thought the screen alone would cost more than $45. My next thought was, This is really bad news for anyone who makes computing hardware.
Baloney, Within the next 6 months, I will be replacing our two 8 year old Microsoft XP desktops with two new desktops that will be All-in-One with touch screens. Both will have a wireless keyboard and a mouse.
I will also purchase a tablet for travel as a replacement for my netbook. Why the tablet? Because it is lighter and because I use it exclusively to access the internet when I travel as well as send some emails. As I do not need heavy keyboard use while traveling, the tablet will be fine, but trying to use a tablet or other pieces of equipment without a keyboard for moderate to heavy typing is highly inconvenient.
Desk top PCs are more of a durable good than smart phones, and any type of portable computing device.
I am typing this on a dual core 2ghz machine with 2G ram that was made in 2006.
In the back room, I have a single core 2ghz machine with 2 gig ram that was made in 2001.
In the early years around the late 80s to 90s you would be worrying about upgrading about every 3, 4, or, 5 years. Since, 2000, It seams as though the drive to upgrade has disappeared for a lot of people. My 11 year old computer is perfectly capable of running the most current release of windows. That statement would have been ludicrous back in 2000 Most of the computers I deal with on a daily basis are older than 5 years old. There is only one person I know of that has a computer that is only a year old.
It seams the desk top computing power has hit a plateau. More power is definitely available, but most people just dont need it.
Look at the minimum requirements for win 8. 1Ghz cpu. 1G ram, 16G HD, DX9 graphics. Heck, one of my old late 90s computers that I have in storage has that amount of power.
That has to do with the fact that MS has cleaned out the glut to a large degree. They have streamlined and optimized the code and OS design. To the point that Linux based systems seam bloated by comparison now.
That is my opinion as to the cause for the slowdown in mem chip use. The memory going into an I pad will be around for a year or two. The memory in a desktop will be there for a decade.
Load of CRAP. PCs are still the “lion’s share” consumers of DRAM. When something else gets above PCs percentage-wise, let me know. Sheesh.
<I personally hate tablets. I already have a smart phone, and a PC. Why do I need to have something in between?
You may not. It depends on what you need to do. I use a tablet to house all the journal articles, syllabi, homework, etc. for each of my classes. Now, instead of bringing a big binder to class (I teach grad level classes), I bring my tablet and everything is there.
I can bring articles I’m writing to doctor appointments and work on them while I wait (and listen to some music at the same time), without worrying about losing a piece of paper or making a mess. If I need to look up something for my research, if there is wifi, I can do it with my tablet sitting in the waiting room, instead of having to wait until I was at home or in my office. My tablet fits in my purse/messenger bag, rather than the big laptop briefcase I used to carry when traveling.
It took me awhile to see my iPad as something other than an expensive toy, but now, it’s worth its weight in gold. I got it free thru my university, but would buy some kind of tablet with my own dime if I had to at some point in the future.
As for phones, I use a cheap Virgin phone with a camera. I pay $20 every three months unless I run over my plan, which I’ve never done. I have had to add extra time when traveling, but I can add in $10 increments - that’s a lot better than paying $30-100 a month.
Using the good-ole graphite word processor, eh? ;-P
How many times have we heard it?
The world may be shifting back to the massive mainframe model, where terminals are simply local access points of a huge computer in a central hive. However, I won’t make that change. If my data is in a cloud, it’s not mine, it’s the cloud’s data; I lose privacy, protection and probably any sign that it is being read by snoops or the government.
If it is on a computer in my home, I gain privacy, control and protection. In short, personal computer = personal property rights over my information.
Yes, graphite word processer and occassionaly I’ll upgrad to a fountain pen processer.
I agree 100% MY computer MY data! The cloud can stick it where the sun doesnt shine! (pun intended)
I work in IT, and I’ve watched our experts try to make it secure. Unless you own the server in the server farm, you can’t make it as secure as your data should be.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.