According to a recent PEW RESEARCH CENTER report* almost 66% of Americans own a smartphone. More importantly almost 20% of Americans rely on a smartphone exclusively for accessing the internet. These trends are expected to continue growing.
So what does this information mean regarding the desktop computer? According to a January 2015 IDC press release*…“Portable PC growth remains strong with double-digit growth from a year ago, while desktop shipments declined by more than -10%.”
Could this be the beginning of the end for the desktop computer? Desktops have survived the invention of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and a variety of other mobile devices, but could there a time come when all laptops seem too bulky and too stationary to ever own?
Current State of the Desktop Computer
Desktops and laptops still possess the majority of the market when it comes to searching the Internet at 90%, but smart phones are close behind at 80% and tablets are nearing 50% and growing rapidly. These numbers are expected to change in the coming years as tablets and other mobile devices become accessible to users in all budgets. There is also debate over the recent net neutrality ruling and how it will affect Internet use in the coming months and years.
Desktops have withstood the usual two year time-frame it takes for something to be considered obsolete once a viable replacement arrives on the market. However, recent years have brought alternatives:
- Laptops now feature strong performance power without weighing a ton from excess hardware
- Cloud services allow users to send data to online storage
- As more and more people telecommute, desktops seem to make less sense
Despite the developments in mobile devices, many believe it will be a long time before business users shift completely to mobile devises over laptops or desktops. Desktops have a longer lifespan than laptops, but they limit the mobility of the user.
Desktops for Entertainment and Work
One of the key markets that will play a role in the lifespan of desktops is gamers. They benefit from the customization options desktops offer and require systems that are high-speed with strong 3D graphics. Smartphones, tablets and laptops will improve, but they will still be far from the ability of a desktop.
Another feature of desktops that appeals to gamers and other communities is the ability to easily fix and upgrade parts on a desktop. Laptops have some upgrade ability, but tablets are far behind.
Desktops allows users to operate numerous open windows simultaneously and run multiple monitors when necessary. Gaining single screen access to multiple browsers, photo editing software, social media, and word processing at the same time is essential for many people in the business world and a desktop is still the best (and in some cases only) way to do this.
Finally, and perhaps is the biggest argument in support of desktops never leaving the market? The devastation of a shattered screen is extremely unlikely. Anyone who knows the devastation of dropping their smartphone, tablet or laptop understands the security offered by a desktop computer.
Are we on our way to a desktop-free world? Only time will tell, but most agree it isn’t going to happen in the immediate future.