Thoughts on the Shrinking PC Market

The PC market just keeps on declining

Gartner reported this week that the PC market hit it’s 5th straight year of decline. As Mikako Kitagawa notes:

“The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth. There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life. This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth.”

Basically, we’ve reached a point where people feel that their current computer is “good enough” and PC makers aren’t offering any improvements that are compelling enough beyond a small segment of, essentially, power users.

I recall that twenty years ago, it felt as though when you bought your PC, a better, cheaper and faster version was already available before you got it home. We were always acutely aware of the processor speeds on our PCs, and how they didn’t stack up to the just released ones. Nowadays, unless you are buying a machine for something like high-end gaming, I doubt that many people even pay close attention to what processor is in their PC or how fast it is. If anything, we just want things like lighter and longer battery life.

Mobile phones have probably reached that point (or nearly anyway), technology-wise, but, probably because they are as much accessory as utility, maintain a value as a “status symbol” that often compels people to upgrade.