Pundits aplenty have been predicting that smartphones will be the predominant device for accessing the web in the near future. That future may be accelerating. IDC, the International Data Corporation, has reported that smartphones have now out shipped personal computers.
Smartphone shipments have tripled, while PCs shipments are growing at less than 50%. In the past you had to buy a new PC every 3 years or so to keep up with innovation and performance (I’m including Apple in there). But the innovation curve belongs to smartphones now. PCs are fast enough and feature rich enough for the majority of people. Consumers can do things on their smartphone that, in the past, had to be done on their PC. New features, functionality and performance are now dominated by the smartphone. Consumers can do more with their phone than their PC and it’s completely mobile.
So is the PC dead? Absolutely not. The reality is that PCs are becoming closer to a television; mature and ubiquitous, and used for very specific activities. They will be replaced at a much slower pace than in years past, and if you have young children, they will buy less than half the number of PCs you have owned, but purchase three or four times more smartphones than you ever did.
This is what has made Apple so strong over the past three and a half years. They saw this shift coming and created the technology to enable it. Their MacPro heavy aluminum tower computers are losing sales ground to the all in one iMac model because there is less need for that purebred desktop computer. The acceleration of tablet sales will put even more pressure on PC shipments.
Brands need to be designing their experiences and business models to adapt to this technology landscape shift, or risk being relocated to the basement with the old folks, while the young, cool, hip people are tapping on the handheld device at the coolest party in town.