Tech DeKoded — Is it all doom and gloom for the PC?

Girl with a laptop

If you were asked to write an obituary about your personal computer, what would it say? Perhaps you would jot down some of the fond memories from the times when you were close friends, and spent hours together. But eventually, it got clunky and old, while you moved on to newer friends. And the last time you saw the PC, it was at the bottom of your drawer, gathering dust.

Well, we are still some way off from officially declaring the PC to be dead. But the news about it has not been good. In fact, tech blogs were buzzing with PC tales earlier in the day, after two leading research firms — Gartner and IDC — released their latest reports back to back, on the state of the PC market.

Doom and gloom?
The Gartner analysis claims global PC shipments declined 8.3 percent in Q4, 2015 and holiday sales provided “little cheer” to PC vendors. Meanwhile, PC shipments in EMEA totaled 22.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015, a decline of 16 percent year-over-year. Even worse, this was the fifth consecutive quarter of worldwide PC shipment decline.
IDC too paints a gloomy picture — it reports the year on year decline in 2015 PC shipments was “the largest in history”, surpassing the decline of 9.8 per cent in 2013. The only vendor who came out grinning in 2015 was — yes, you guessed it right — Apple. IDC notes the fruity company “continued its strong run and outperformed the market”, increasing its share globally to 7.5 per cent for the year.

Time to say goodbye?
So is the PC really dying? Well, most probably not. There will always be certain scenarios where PCs will have an advantage — image, music and video editing, for example. Or even high-end gaming. Elsewhere, you will find big companies with legacy software that needs PCs to run on. So yes, even a decade or two from now, there will be takers for PCs.

But the more important question is — will the market be big enough and reasonably profitable for most vendors to stick around? Will they be fighting over a decreasing pie, with razor-thin margins? Or will most follow the example of IBM and Sony, and sell off the PC hardware business? Currently, it is anybody’s guess on how the PC saga will unfold over the coming years. But we believe there will be a twist in the tale, that actually brings the PC back in vogue in 2017.

VR to the rescue
The third big report to come out was from Goldman Sachs. It predicts the virtual reality (VR) market will outpace the TV market in annual revenue by 2025, generating $110 billion dollars compared to TVs $99 billion. And to make VR work optimally, you need to invest in a high-end PC. We expect by next year, VR will go mainstream, and lot more people will be buying new PCs for it.

So for all you know, the PC might actually jump out of the hospital bed and make a grand comeback to a standing ovation. Well, at least in an alternative virtual world.