person with tablet on lap screen displaying a sales chart

PC Sales Slump Reality: Doing More with Less, Longer

If you've been watching the PC industry, you know that PC sales are on a downward spiral. Some industry folks and even hardware vendors blame Microsoft, stating that Windows 8 adoption is the culprit. Others have suggested that the rise of tablets is the cause. And, even more have proposed other factors such as the proliferation of smartphones or a lack of hardware vendor innovation.

Today, I read a brief article that suggested that the PC sales slump will continue, but that tablets will also start to realize their own slump soon. The reason given? Phablets. You know, those hybrid smartphone/tablet devices the size of bricks. Whenever I see someone raise a Phablet to their ear, I just shake my head and think how easy it was for the industry to turn consumers into thoughtless zombies. Do they realize how silly it looks?

To me, the idea that Phablets are killing tablets makes no sense and is evidence that analysts are grasping at straws. And, really, it's proof that the majority of analysts have no connection to the real world. If they would just take a step back and talk to real people, they'd get an entirely different perspective.

There are a couple real reasons why the PC and, potentially, tablet sales are on the decline.

First off, consumers are worn out. A new device is released every 3-4 months and touted to be the latest and greatest thing. And, not only that, but consumers are made to feel that, by sticking with the last version, they are somehow missing out. Prices for the devices remain flat. Consumers are tired of shelling out $500-800 every six months just to stay current with the newest, coolest thing. They're also tired of having to move accounts and resinstall apps each time they replace an "older" device. It's a lot of work.

Secondly, PCs purchased 10 years ago are still running pretty well. A few bits and pieces may have been replaced over time, but the PC still functions just fine. Many consumers fall into computing habits and rarely deviate. They want to do this thing, and that thing, and sometimes the other thing. That's about it. They visit the same web sites, participate in the same online discussion forums, and use the same email client to communicate with the same people over and over like an electronic version of the classic movie, Groundhog Day .

People are worried that the world will not make the April 8, 2014 Windows XP deadline.  And, if you look at the recent OS stats, Windows XP migrations have stalled in the last couple months. Why? Because Windows XP still does the job. I'm in no way suggesting that anyone should continue running Windows XP. I mean, security alone is the biggest reason to move. But, the Windows XP conundrum is evidence that many consumers are fed up, out of money, and taking a stand.

Unintentionally, the new device steamroll applied by accelerated device cycles has made the consumer smarter. If a PC bought in 2002 running Windows XP is still able to do the job, then a tablet purchased 2 years ago is enough. It's common sense, right?

And, this is why there's a PC sales slump, and why, if you want to believe it, a tablet sales slump is on the way.

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