The going must have become pretty tough. Otherwise, why would the two top Indian hardware manufacturers pull out of the PC business within a month of each other? There is no doubt that this is the start of a major consolidation among PC manufacturers. All of them are feeling the heat of falling sales, triggered by the increasing popularity of smaller, smarter devices that compete with their products. While the smaller players, with limited global reach have downed shutters on their computer business, the larger ones have a bit more breathing space thanks to their larger volumes.
PC sales have been falling the world over. And this decline of what was the primary computing device for well over three decades has coincided with the growth of the smartphone and the tablet in the past few years. A recent report by research firm Canalys predicts that next year tablets will almost out ship all other PC form factors combined. This segment, which is all of three years old, would by then be big enough to command almost half of the client PC market which also includes desktops and notebooks.
There is one big reason for people choosing the tablet, or the smartphone, over the desktop and the notebook. An overwhelming number of us are just consuming content on these smart devices. If the smart devices aren’t really great with creation of content, then a bulk of first time users too are not really bothered about stretching these small computing devices to do so. Those who really need a more powerful and versatile device to create serious stuff, already own proper computers. Add to this the fact that the new devices are much more compact and easier to use.
Even though Canalys estimates that over 396 million tablets will be shipped in 2014, this does not mean the desktop/notebook market will be completely wiped out. A lot of things will still have to be done on old-fashioned computers. So there is going to be a huge replacement market. Companies like Intel, which is the largest manufacturer of processors, is optimistic about countries like India where a lot of people still haven’t used a computer.
But with India there is always the chance that a lot of these people might just skip the PC era and go directly to tablets or smartphones. So just to be on the safe side, Intel and others are opening up to the world of Android, while top PC makers like HP are exploring the world of tablets.
Nandagopal is editor (new media) based in New Delhi.