Diversifying Computing Needs

The evolution of smart-thingies is now predicted to affect the PC market according to Gartner. They predict that folks will allow notebooks to age as they consider tablets and smartphones as personal computing devices.

“Gartner expects worldwide PC shipments to total 440.6 million units in 2012, a 13.6 percent increase from 2011. This is down from Gartner’s previous outlook of 14.8 percent growth for 2012.”

“Overall, we now expect home mobile PCs to average less than 10 percent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through 2015”

“even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements”…

No doubt this is why M$ plans to port that other OS to ARM, to stem the bleeding. ARM will be having substantially higher growth than x86 PCs in the coming years. It also shows Linux on ARM will have a great run and ARM could intrude into the usual notebook space to make those devices lighter and more flexible. Tablets, having smaller batteries and no keyboard are half the weight of notebooks. Portability is important and the ARMed thingies are more portable. They should also be less costly.

This is good evidence that the monopoly of Wintel is on its last legs. Instead of being the norm of IT it is about to become only “good enough” while other technologies have huge growth. 2011 could be the end of monopoly. Wintel will from now on just get its share based on consumer choice, not monopolists’ dictates. That share will be likely less than 50% by next year.

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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9 Responses to Diversifying Computing Needs

  1. oldman says:

    “But the smart thingies can be cranked out like popcorn. They can be built much faster and cheaper than notebooks and desktops.”

    But those same smart thingies will also have functionality that is deliberately restricted to what is deemed required at the price point. For instance feature phone class functionality has only just made it to the cheapest phones.

    Tablets offerings will also follow the same path once they become more common. But even here,You are not going to get a 10″ tablet with dual core ARM processors for $99.95 any time soon!

    The real question is when will the low end smartphone become “good enough” for trigger the revolution that you posit. It is my contention that that point is much further in the future than years end.

  2. Ray says:

    “Everyone has the iPad2 as a benchmark now. The world can do much better.”

    It isn’t much better on the phone side of it. People are still benchmarking against the iPhone 4.

  3. But the smart thingies can be cranked out like popcorn. They can be built much faster and cheaper than notebooks and desktops. Everyone has the iPad2 as a benchmark now. The world can do much better.

  4. oldman says:

    “So, it’s no-name brand, not the latest tech and it has little RAM but it works and looks good.”

    Junk from the far east, I should have known. I can’t see any major carrier selling them – these kind of cheap devices in my experience are usually more headaches than they are worth.

    I would also suggest that basing your predictions on what shows up in an odd lot digital junk store like alibaba.com isn’t conducive to being correct, and probably isn’t likely to get you taken seriously.

  5. Ray says:

    “That share will be likely less than 50% by next year.”

    I don’t really think that it’ll drop that fast in a year. Computers don’t change in a year.

  6. There are already perfectly usable ~$100 smartphones. There is so little material in these gadgets that they can be built quite cheaply. The tablets have several times the mass of plastic, copper and glass.

    see http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/424365733/Smartphone_Android_2_2_Phone_GPS.html

    So, it’s no-name brand, not the latest tech and it has little RAM but it works and looks good.

  7. oldman says:

    “Content creation involves more than text these days.”

    Absolutely, but the interaction interface with a portable computing device is in my experience too small for for any kind of extended work. One does not edit ones home movies on a smart phone nor (at this point at least) on a tablet

    “Some time in 2011 prices will drop for the ARMed thingies and it will be game over. ”

    I do not see how this can be. The application functionality is simply not there for people to consider using a smartphone as their sole computing device, even if they had an external bluetoolh wireless keyboard and monitor. Furthermore, those models that support the enhanced function are extremely pricey and will remain so – the price drop on the devices that actually have the horsepower to actually DO something, IF it comes this year will probably be minimal. Market segmentation pressures (no manufacturer will willingly cannibalize existing markets) and user inertia will keep the general hierarchy of computing power intact for years to come.

    Game over Pog … Unproven.

  8. @oldman
    Content creation involves more than text these days. The smart-thingies with 5MP cameras can do a lot. Take a look at an ATX motherboard lately. It’s mostly empty space. Everything is in a few chips. ARM puts it all in one chip. Lots of PCs have miniATX motherboards these days. Smaller is the end-result of many generations of Moore’s Law. Apps that still need high-bandwidth locally may well need more powerful processors but I bet for every producer there are many consumers. The big PC may have a role indefinitely but it will be reduced.

    The number of devices that are being manufactured each year keeps increasing. The tiny ARM CPUs can ramp up quickly because many more of them fit on a wafer at the FAB. ARM CPUs for embedded uses are cranked out by the billions annually. It is just a tweak to crank out the ARM CPUs suitable for PCs. The limiting factor early in 2011 are touch-sensitive screens. Apple has ordered so many supplies for other OEMs are tight. In only takes a few months to ramp that production up. By the end of 2011, production of ARM chips for personal computing of all kinds will greatly outnumber normal PC production. We have seen desktop PC production flatten out with ~0 growth. Notebook PCs which were growing in production by ~40% per annum are now expected to grow at 10% or so while the ARMed thingies are pushing 100% growth. It’s just a matter of time. Some time in 2011 prices will drop for the ARMed thingies and it will be game over. 100 million smartphones shipped in 4Q2011. Smartphones and tablets have plenty of room to grow.

  9. oldman says:

    “Wintel will from now on just get its share based on consumer choice, not monopolists’ dictates. That share will be likely less than 50% by next year.”

    The only way this will even have a chance of happen is if you consider smart phones and tablets as the peers of x86 based desktops and portable systems. to someone such as myself who has a smartphone and has had the experience on occasion of using it as a substitute for a traditional computer, Such as estimation is at best far fetched. Even with an attached keyboard, the average smart phone is so underpowered as to make anything beyond the most rudimentary content creation painful. Tablets are somewhat better in this regard and may indeed do some cannibalization of the x86 market on the low end, but how much remains to be seen.

    The real problem here is once again that one is reinventing the wheel application wise with ARM based systems. The rich commercial application ecosystem available for x86 based devices is closed. One need only look at the best developed application set today – those running on apple iOS. Content consumption applications are relatively rich, but content creation applications are still quite thin. And certain whole classes of content creation apps are absent.

    Now it may be that users will not feel the lack and will find the smaller less functional applications available “Good Enough”, but to what extent this will play out I would suggest is unknowable at this point.

    IN short, your speculation of a 50% drop in Wintel market share within a year is IMHO highly speculative.

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