Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tablets on the rise as laptops fall

Article first published as Tablets on the Rise as Laptops Fall on Technorati.

Here we go again. 

The San Jose Mercury news is reporting that IDC (Intl. Data Corp) predicts 2013 will bring more bad news for the PC.  The de facto barometer of consumer markets has revised its latest estimate for yearly PC sales downward.  What was expected to be a 1.3% decline has now been  projected to be more like 7.8%.

The blame is placed squarely on an increase in tablet sales.  With 229.3 million expected this year IDC has gone so far as to predict tablet sales to outpace the entirety of the PC market by 2015.

Unfortunately, the news is both obvious and misplaced. 

Comparing sales of the Galaxy Note to a laptop is akin to comparing a fine wine to a 44 ounce fountain drink.

Tablets are consumer devices more on par with their Smartphone cousins than any laptop.   In a market sense they are disposable.  Conversely, laptops and the PC market in general operate on a much longer replacement cycle.  It's not uncommon, for example,  for the average tech savvy consumer to purchase 2 tablets during the lifespan of one laptop.

These days nobody would seriously consider paying upwards of $1000 for a laptop just to browse the web and check their email when a $300 tablet will do.  It's a given that such mundane mobility tasks have been ceded to the smart device market.    

As such, the decline of PC market share is to be expected but isn't quite the death knell the tech punditry keeps drumming on about.  Rather it's a realignment of markets defined by their functionality instead of their volume and that's as it should be.

A Surface Pro is not a competitor to any IPAD even though both claim a tablet form factor.  Their purposes are distinct and so are their customers.

In a sense, the  cheap, underpowered laptop of yesterday is the progenitor of today's tablet which now occupies it's place in the market.  A classic case of technological evolution and natural selection if ever there was one.