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Itís Official: The Era of the Personal Computer Is Over
All Things Digital ^ | 09/16/2012 | Arik Hesseldahl

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 we’ve 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 world’s memory chip supply.

And while it may not come as a terrible surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to personal technology trends during the last few years, there’s 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 firm’s 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 couldn’t 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 world’s 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 world’s memory by 2013, while by that time PCs will consume less than 43 percent, making the decline, in the firm’s 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t take.

PDAs like the Palm Pilot and Microsoft’s 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 person’s daily life. Now, it’s 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.” It’s not gone yet, but it is going.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet; Society
KEYWORDS: pc; personalcomputer; trends
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1 posted on 09/17/2012 10:06:28 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I bet you posted that from a personal computer.


2 posted on 09/17/2012 10:07:26 AM PDT by DannyTN
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To: SeekAndFind

I personally hate tablets. I already have a smart phone, and a PC. Why do I need to have something in between?


3 posted on 09/17/2012 10:09:14 AM PDT by Shadow44
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To: DannyTN

You bet right :) ( And this PC runs on Vista, never found a reason to upgrade it yet ).


4 posted on 09/17/2012 10:09:23 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (bOTRT)
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To: SeekAndFind

You’ll be just in time to get Windows 8. :)


5 posted on 09/17/2012 10:11:06 AM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I bet most phone and tablet apps were made on PC’s


6 posted on 09/17/2012 10:12:06 AM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: SeekAndFind

Gamers and Simmers will stick with the PC.


7 posted on 09/17/2012 10:12:18 AM PDT by Signalman
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To: Shadow44

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.


8 posted on 09/17/2012 10:14:37 AM PDT by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: Signalman
Gamers and Simmers will stick with the PC.

+1!

RACE 07 (and GTR3, whenever it releases) FTW - for me...

9 posted on 09/17/2012 10:15:01 AM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: DannyTN
Hmmm ...

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.

10 posted on 09/17/2012 10:15:14 AM PDT by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilization is Aborting, Buggering, and Contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: SeekAndFind

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.


11 posted on 09/17/2012 10:15:18 AM PDT by Yaelle
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To: SeekAndFind

Yeah right... sure.

LLS


12 posted on 09/17/2012 10:15:42 AM PDT by LibLieSlayer ("if it looks like you are not gonna make it you gotta get mean, I mean plumb mad-dog mean" J. Wales)
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To: SeekAndFind
Everything I do with every other device comes back home and downloaded to the PC, and synced up. Actually, no, not synched. More goes to the PC than to the devices.

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.

13 posted on 09/17/2012 10:16:24 AM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Rome didn't fall in a day, either.)
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To: Shadow44

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.


14 posted on 09/17/2012 10:17:02 AM PDT by Yaelle
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To: SeekAndFind

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.


15 posted on 09/17/2012 10:18:03 AM PDT by discostu (Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.)
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To: Shadow44

We use Tablets for professional surveying jobs. Phones can’t handle anything but the most basic of surveys.


16 posted on 09/17/2012 10:19:26 AM PDT by agere_contra (Vote ABO. Don't choose the Greater Evil and then boast about how principled you are)
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To: SeekAndFind
You bet right :) ( And this PC runs on Vista, never found a reason to upgrade it yet ).

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.

17 posted on 09/17/2012 10:24:08 AM PDT by Las Vegas Ron (Medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism)
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To: SeekAndFind

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.


18 posted on 09/17/2012 10:25:06 AM PDT by catbertz
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To: agere_contra

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.


19 posted on 09/17/2012 10:26:58 AM PDT by Shadow44
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To: SeekAndFind

same here.


20 posted on 09/17/2012 10:27:46 AM PDT by brivette
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