Some of the trolls lurking here keep harping that small cheap computers just cannot replace the legacy PC because they lack something: keyboards, kilowatt PSUs or whatever. The fact is that that a large segment of users don’t require those “requirements”. Their purposes are multimedia and Internet, something small cheap computers have been able to do for years now.
“Itâ€™s not that you canâ€™t use a laptop to do any of these things. Iâ€™ve used a laptop as a tethered shooting companion for photography for years now. Seeing instant feedback as I shoot speeds up the process and makes editing faster, itâ€™s great. But Iâ€™ve never wanted to use a laptop. Theyâ€™re bulky, theyâ€™re not the right form factor and theyâ€™re not optimized for easy one-handed operation (not counting the one you hold them with, thank you). And some of these cases, like diving, present an impossible challenge for laptops. Theyâ€™re simply not the right tool for a lot of jobs.”
Then there’s mobility… something everybody but the bed-ridden have and many people want in their IT. You just can’t lug around kilowatt PSUs or even hair-driers as easily as a small cheap computer. If you don’t need a keyboard, why drag one around, especially those flat keyboards found on notebooks? I hate those. Give me my zombie keyboard from Fujitsu anytime. It fits my hands and I can plug it into a small cheap computer if I want to type… A big box AND a keyboard are not what I require. I just need a keyboard. I also want a big display, something I can’t have with a notebook so small cheap computers work for me. For storage I can use a server. For heavy computing, I can use a server too. I don’t need either of those in my client PC. I use a truly networked OS, GNU/Linux.
The writing is on the wall. The slowdown in sales of ATX boxes and notebooks is real. It’s not a fad. Small cheap computers are taking over a huge share of IT whether M$ and fans are ready or not. The world is not going to wait for Wintel to get its act together. While the current share of tablets and smartphones is significant, imagine a world in a few years with this kind of sustained growth.
IDC: “For the full year 2013, unit shipments declined -10.0% from 2012, a record drop reflecting the changes in mobility and personal computing affecting the market. While commercial purchases helped to prevent a larger decline, the consumer side remained weak.”
IDC: “worldwide tablet shipments are expected to reach 221.3 million units in 2013, down slightly from a previous forecast of 227.4 million but still 53.5% above 2012 levels. Shipment growth is forecast to slow to 22.2% year over year in 2014 to a total of 270.5 million units. By 2017, annual market growth will slow to single-digit percentages and shipments will peak at 386.3 million units, down from the previous forecast of 407 million units.”
IDC: “worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to surpass 1.0 billion units in 2013, representing 39.3% growth over 2012. Despite a number of mature markets nearing smartphone saturation, the demand for low-cost computing in emerging markets continues to drive the smartphone market forward. By 2017, total smartphone shipments are expected to approach 1.7 billion units, resulting in a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.4% from 2013 to 2017.”