Legacy PCs Being Squeezed Out By Smartphones

I think IDC has finally accepted reality, that smartphones are displacing the legacy PC for much of IT. “The PC will be the new accessory to mobile as smartphones become the first and primary computing device for many. IDC expects smartphone shipments to outpace total PC shipments by more than 6 to 1 in 2018.
The smartphone installed base is quickly approaching two billion units, and vendors are scrambling to find the next two billion users in new markets.”
It took them a while. Like many they kept seeing the decline of the legacy stuff year after year but they kept looking for light at the end of the tunnel. That was not an opening but an oncoming train, Android/Linux on ARMed smartphones.

What’s changed is that IDC and others have been conditioned by M$ to see IT as a highly competitive market with every OEM competing to sell one of M$’s OS but the world has left monopoly behind and now the world is competing to sell small cheap computers with FLOSS operating systems. That’s the right way to do IT. FLOSS gives products with the lowest cost per unit which is what the market is demanding. Since M$ no longer controls the market, good things happen. M$ was worried about competing on price when legacy PCs were ~$1K but now that consumers can buy what they want for less than $200, and even less than $100 with no contribution and no “tax” from M$, M$ can no longer dictate to OEMs all and sundry details. Gone are the days when M$ could destroy an OEM by raising the price of licences a few dollars. Now M$ almost has to pay OEMs to install M$’s OS.

What’s shocking people, including IDC, is how rapidly this change has come. In less than a decade Android/Linux has gone from curiosity to commodity. In the last two years, Android/Linux has overtaken that other OS in installed base. M$ has lost market-share, mind-share and even bottom line for client OS. M$ is having to work for a living and all its bloat accumulated in the days of monopoly prevent M$ from doing that well.

It’s ironic. In the early days of the legacy PC, M$ and Intel did work hard to persuade the world that the legacy PC was necessary even though very few needed all the capability. Many PCs were simply glorified typewriters. Now, the world appears to believe personal computers are necessary but Moore’s Law, and ARM and Linux and Google and Samsung and Android have made an entirely different platform front and centred in people’s mind. Further, the new PCs don’t make whirring noises pointlessly stirring the air and wasting energy. They run all day on a tiny battery. What money people spend on them mostly goes to getting the best bang for the dollar in CPU power, storage, and networking rather than filling M$’s coffers. Intel, too, has been cut out. Instead of running a $200 chip from Intel that needed a dozen other chips to interface to the real world, the smartphone does it all with just a couple of chips that cost much less. The network connects the smartphones to any real big storage/compute engines and there might be 1K smartphones connected to just one server. Wintel is no longer necessary anywhere in IT.

It’s been a long time coming but it’s a great day.

See Smartphones to Drive Double-Digit Growth of Smart Connected Devices in 2014 and Beyond.

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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