Traditional PCs Continue To Decline

“Worldwide PC shipments totaled 72.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.7 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. For the year, 2016 PC shipments totaled 269.7 million units, a 6.2 percent decline from 2015. PC shipments have declined annually since 2012.”
 
See Gartner Says 2016 Marked Fifth Consecutive Year of Worldwide PC Shipment Decline
Yes, for most consumers a PC has become a smartphone and they’ll buy two or three smartphones before buying another desktop/notebook. That confirms my belief that the legacy PC was overkill for most consumers from the beginning. Because it was the only choice it took off but monopoly’s not sustainable. New/better/different technology always comes along.

I’m still surprised how much people will pay for a smartphone. Makers are making huge profits compared to the narrow margins of makers of legacy PCs. Savings are everywhere: material, freight, space at every stage… Even maintenance, which was a big industry with the legacy PC, is almost nonexistent with the smartphone. People break them and just buy another. That way they get the latest technology/fashion. Certainly everyone hated the cables, malware and slowing down of the legacy PC running Wintel. In education where I did most of my computing, the legacy PC was a great boon and a great burden. Many schools could not keep a fleet of PCs running until I installed GNU/Linux which was a lower-maintenance option.

I still can’t use a smartphone very well. I have to squint and hold one close to my eye to use the damned things and my fingers just get in the way… So I hold onto the legacy but at least I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home, except for a print-server. I don’t have an ARMed driver for the damned printer, but that printer is getting old. Maybe it will die…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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19 Responses to Traditional PCs Continue To Decline

  1. oiaohm says:

    Deaf Spy QT Mobile with Nokia was the first to do it in prototype.
    https://wiki.qt.io/How_to_Port_From_Desktop_to_Mobile#Porting_a_Desktop_Application_to_Mobile
    It is kind of a pain to have to add extra data so that Desktop application resizes nicely onto Mobile screens.

    That is most likely not the one you are thinking of. The reality is all the mobile/desktop screen API since you have to careful code your application so it not complete trash on one or the other.
    http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240089052/Symbian-builds-proof-of-concept-Netbook-OS
    People forget the Symbian Netbook of 2009. Yes this is where you uses the QT Symbian application on Netbook or Symbian phone that was exactly the same binary just GUI altered based on the interface.

    Now I give you three guesses who’s the only one that can do it today.
    Deaf Spy there are 4 that can do it today. QT based items I bet was not on your list. Please note that does include Android because QT does provide a SDK for android. By your comment I bet you mean Microsoft under Universal Windows Platform what is fairly much do what you do in QT just with less platform choice. Now name the two I have not cover yet. Learn that you have under researched again.

  2. Deaf Spy says:

    Yeah, yeah, in less then two years. But Samsung and Google are still behind. You know what the secret is, Robert? Proper API / SDK for building applications that can seamlessly cross between mobile screen and large screen.

    Now I give you three guesses who’s the only one that can do it today.

    Again, you refuse to consider the fact that PC’s live longer than smartphones. And that smartphones, esp. Android ones, get obsolete faster than other platforms. Until you do that, all your thoughts are too shallow to be worth considering.

  3. dougman wrote, “You do realize that the cheap boards and you might acquire some-day, does not allow one to say, go outside in the backyard and work under the sunlight?”

    That sentence makes no sense. The laws of physics are the same outside as well as in. TLW often works out on the patio. My smartphone can connect to the wireless LAN anywhere in the yard. That gives access to the server and other clients on the LAN. We do see six or more wireless access points from the neighbours on scans. Some have very interesting names like “CSIS mobile unit…”. CSIS is our CIA… Cute. They are about 100m distant. Signal strength is down to -80dB but in our yard we can get -70dB which is useful at lower speeds. In the house depending on location we can get -40 to -70dB between rooms. Connections at 72mbps seem to work reliably with the new wireless access point. I had a speedtest to the Internet at 47mbits/s from the notebook last night. That blows away what we got from the old device. The connection is rock solid with no dropouts at all over the last 12h after some tweaks to the BIOS and driver. Found the “RFkill” switch was flaky. Still OK with ~8 year old notebook.

  4. dougman wrote, “I am willing to bet that if you were to disappear from the picture, your residence would be overtaken by Apple or Microsoft products, perhaps a Chrome device or two.”

    Well, TLW may shop retail but she would lose a lot of benefits of our server. The kids are perfectly capable of maintaining or extending my system. One is the “go to” guy at a tech firm. He get’s calls 24×7 about fixing things. He uses GNU/Linux and other software at work but at home he doesn’t use any products of M$ nor Apple. He does like Intel and Nvidia, though. Where have I gone wrong? 😉

    I remember trying to get my son involved in IT when he was ~7. He wasn’t interested. When he was 15, that’s all he was wanting to do. He was beating most other high schoolers across Canada before he graduated. He programmes a bunch of languages and can work magic with hardware too.

    OTOH, even M$ and Apple are changing. Perhaps by the time I’m dead my work will have been accomplished and FLOSS will have taken over the Earth.

  5. dougman says:

    “People are tired of being anchored to a cable or access point…Now that folks can hook up a mouse, keyboard and big screen…”

    You do realize that the cheap boards and you might acquire some-day, does not allow one to say, go outside in the backyard and work under the sunlight?

    You just contradicted yourself. Yes, it is true, people prefer laptops and smartphones these days while at home. But your dinosaur ass won’t get TLW a Chromebook.

    I am willing to bet that if you were to disappear from the picture, your residence would be overtaken by Apple or Microsoft products, perhaps a Chrome device or two.

  6. Deaf Spy wrote, “No evidence of people actually using such setups for productivity and actual work getting done.”

    TLW uses Odroid-C2 to run her business. It’s software is supported by Debian and others. Odroid-C2 is very similar to a smartphone. Google and Samsung do support millions of smartphones and many have such setups for productivity. Wired Magazine is a business which gets stuff done using only smartphones for the mobile work.

    “We’re living proof: for the last two years, WIRED has been able to cover events like CES almost exclusively using our smartphones.”

  7. Deaf Spy says:

    One counter-example: QED

    No example. Just a tutorial how to do something that is definitely not supported officially. (Contrary to Continuum, which actually is). No evidence of people actually using such setups for productivity and actual work getting done.

    No QED for you, Robert.

    Come on, Robert, even Fifi can pull links better.

  8. Kurkosdr says:

    I know when XP came out, TLW had to reboot daily.

    And I used to get blue-screens in Windows Me.

  9. Deaf Spy wrote, “Nobody does that”.

    One counter-example: QED

  10. Deaf Spy says:

    Now that folks can hook up a mouse, keyboard and big screen to a smartphone

    More non-sense. Nobody does that, Robert. And the only platform that can do it properly is actually Windows 10 Mobile.

  11. Deaf Spy wrote, “Care to think seriously why PC sales are in decline?”

    Yes. People are tired of being anchored to a cable or access point and they are tired of fighting malware and hackers. Now that folks can hook up a mouse, keyboard and big screen to a smartphone there’s very little reason for many people to own a legacy PC these days.

  12. Deaf Spy says:

    Yes, they included a self-breaking component called TOOS.

    Are yo aware this is so irrelevant and stupid that it hurts? Even Fifi can do better than that with his enormous capacity for irrelevance.

    Care to think seriously why PC sales are in decline? Like, for instance, compare the average life of a PC (constantly increasing over last years) vs. a smartphone (actually decreasing over last years)?

  13. Deaf Spy wrote, “OEMs should start producing PCs that last only an year.”

    Yes, they included a self-breaking component called TOOS. MTBF was about 30 days ISTR. I know when XP came out, TLW had to reboot daily. I’ve been in schools where half the XP machines weren’t working at any time and it was impossible to keep them going. We installed a proper OS and everything ran smoothly.

  14. kurkosdr says:

    can’t change = can’t chase

  15. kurkosdr says:

    A PC, which you keep at home and don’t bump on every street corner, tends to keep working nicely for years.

    I believe the software side of things is more responsible for the fast replacement cycle. Many 4.0-4.2 devices would have no problem running at least 4.4 and even Nougat if the hardware was actually upgradeable without having to deal with nasty usermade mods. And the bad thing is that anything 4.2 and below is slowly on its way to obsolescene as the Android Studio support gradually slips.

    It is still not as bad as the insta-obsolence that WP7 users experienced, when all fancy new WP8 apps simply didn’t run, but it is still planned obsolescence.

    Let’s be honest, there are people in the industry who don’t like the open nature of the PC. They want software tied to hardware, so a software purchase comes with a hardware purchase and Android OS, being based on Linux, which basically means that driver hell is practically guaranteed, fits the bill perfectly. Even manufacturers who want to support their devices in the long-term can’t because the SoC manufacturer can’t change the quicksand that is the kernel ABI, so they have to join the planned obsolescence dance. Funny how when Microsoft drops the ball , we start slowly sliding towards the Apple and Amiga model of “software tied to hardware”.

  16. Deaf Spy says:

    People break them [smartphones] and just buy another

    Exactly. People spend lots of money on smartphones, much more than they do for a PC.

    A PC, which you keep at home and don’t bump on every street corner, tends to keep working nicely for years.

    Robert, perhaps OEMs should start producing PCs that last only an year. They break, no maintenance, people buy a new one. OEMs should get a clue from you, I tell you! Then just sit and watch how PC sales will skyrocket.

  17. Kurkosdr says:

    Everyone who has a Windows PC has one and it works really well for them. Why waste money buying a new one if they are not gamers or 3D artists?

    Hence, Microsoft should immediately stop providing security updates to Windows 7 and make PCs of that era non-upgradable (not without crippling bugs and usermade mods at least), like the case is for Android devices. Planned obsolescence for the win.

    Sent from my Nexus 4 running Android 5.1.1

  18. Deaf Spy wrote, “you plan to make TLW get rid of her 8-core Intel notebook?”

    I don’t need to do anything about that. She’s bound to drop it or lose a critical mass of key-caps sooner or later. She’s very careless with mobile IT. In the last few years she’s smashed two smartphones and a tablet. The Odroid-C2 is safe because it sits out of her sight and the keyboard and mouse are wireless and tough. We’ve been married several decades. She’s not going to change. BTW, TLW has utterly no respect for M$ nor Intel when it comes to IT. All she cares about is that it works no matter how rough she is with it. She’s come a long way though. It was about 15 years before she quit using a fistful of legal-sized papers documenting the procedures to follow to do anything with a GUI…

    On a related note, and speaking of stubborn people, I just got off the phone with my banker who distributes my annuity. Despite my having clarified the payment a week ago, it took a second phone call to get it right. These guys determined that there was a slight error so they weren’t going to increase the payment above the minimum and they weren’t planning on telling me. Thank Goodness the website showed the problem. Sigh. When are banks going to enter the 21st century? They use TOOS as well and their website is frequently unavailable for logins or displaying certain pages. I sent them an official scolding through channels but haven’t seen much improvement yet… The scolding had to go by e-mail because the feedback page would not work with FireFox… Arghhh!

  19. Deaf Spy says:

    at least I’m joining the 21st century by switching to GNU/Linux on ARM instead of what the remains of the Wintel monopoly ships. 2017 should be the last year an x86-based PC runs in my home

    What, you plan to make TLW get rid of her 8-core Intel notebook? That would be interesting, keep us updated.

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