What year will tablet unit sales eclips those for PCs?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by anthonymoody, Jan 25, 2012.


What year will tablet unit sales exceed those of PCs?

  1. Never

    5 vote(s)
  2. 2012

    8 vote(s)
  3. 2013

    11 vote(s)
  4. 2014

    8 vote(s)
  5. 2015

    9 vote(s)
  6. 2016 or later

    12 vote(s)
  1. anthonymoody macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    You've probably read by now that Tim Cook believes the day will come when tablets out ship PCs (desktops and laptops combined); not just at Apple (as they already do by a factor of 3) but market wide.

    What year do you think it'll happen?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Fixed that for you. Within 3 years.
  3. kalex macrumors 65816

    Oct 1, 2007
  4. george-brooks macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2011
    Brooklyn, NY
    I dont think it will be terribly soon, and if it does happen, I dont think we will see a time where there are MORE tablets than PCs in the world, just more annual sales. I see a tablet as something you upgrade every 1-3 years and a PC as something you upgrade every 3-5 years, so for every PC I buy i might buy 2 tablets (this isnt necessarily true for me personally since I never really took the iPad plunge, but I'm talking about a typical user). This is why there will be more tablets than PCs sold someday. And when it happens, I want to see some data on who purchased what and what else they bought when.
  5. Stealthipad macrumors 68040


    Apr 30, 2010
    It would not matter to me until Apple gives the iPad more FREEDOM to do what I need, it would NEVER replace even my laptop. much less my desktop.

    Apple, lets see a file system on the iPad 3 for our documents!:eek:
  6. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    The problem with this question is that it assumes a static definition and configuration of devices. A better question might be to ask when/if touch screen interfaces become a common feature of computing devices.

    Devices with 10 inch (or smaller) screens able to display only a single window at a time and with on screen keyboards that take up a third of that limited real estate are not going to "eclipse" PC's, at least not for computing. Nor are devices (as noted above) that require handsprings to manage large stores of data/documents/etc.

    Finally, most of the computer users in the world are not rushing from one meeting to another. They're sitting at desks in ever shrinking cubicles where portability is a secondary consideration.

    Asking when tablet unit sales will eclipse PC's is roughly equivalent to asking when cell phone sales will eclipse PC sales. (They already have.) But that does not mean that phones have taken the place of computers.
  7. Night Spring, Jan 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012

    Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    But what about families that might only have one PC, but have a tablet for each person? Or schools that might have 50 PCs in the lab, but a tablet for every student? I agree with you about how tablet sales might be deceptive about the ratio of tablets / PCs in actual use, but I also think more and more families, schools and even offices will eventually move to a configuration where there are fewer PCs in actual use than tablets.

    I think you are reading too much into the question. The question asks when tablets will outsell PCs. There's no implication that outselling = replacing.
  8. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    Perhaps, but I suspect that's the implication. Otherwise, one might just as well ask when tablets will outsell TV's.
  9. anthonymoody thread starter macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    - Depends how you define "computing" (in your second paragraph). My guess is that you are defining it for yourself as a computer user. My guess is further that that your definition - IF you truly need a full boat computer (and you really should only if you are a coder/designer, video editor, photo editor, super long form writer, spreadsheet jockey, etc. iow jobs currently had by something on the order of .0000000000000001% of the global population) - your definition does not gel with 99.99999999999% of the population.

    - Portability alone is not driving the inexorable takeover of tablets - the overall simplicity and robust user experience is. You're limiting your thinking. Consider an iPad type device that comfortably docks with all manner of "professional" hardware at a desk...multiple monitors, full keyboards, input devices, etc. We may not have them today, but there's not much reason to think we won't have them at some point going forward (hell we already have this for the MBA).

    Also, re portability, most people may sit at desks in their jobs, but laptops (I.e. portables) are the only segment of the market showing any real strength; desktops, as an overall % of the PC category, are shrinking rapidly. So don't underestimate the importance of mobility and portability. This sales mix trend isn't happening accidentally.

    Actually, I do believe they are replacing computers. The inflection point at which tablets out ship PCs may not be the signal point at which this will have occurred and in fact it will almost certainly not be; this tipping point will be an important moment in the process, but it'll take a couple hardware replacement cycles beyond that to see the inevitable trend I predict: unit shipments of PCs as we know them will not only stagnate, as they more or less are now, but will shrink, and tablet sales will ultimately vastly outstrip them. So not only will tablet sales top PC sales, tablets will replace PCs for the vast majority of humans on earth.

    Look, right now, y-y PC industry unit sales changes, such as they are, are already anemic when growing and in fact shrinking in the most highly developed markets (source:IDC). It is only in the developing world where PC shipments are still growing, boosting the global number into positive y-y territory. Given the economic challenges faced by the developing world, lower general price points and energy consumption of tablets, greater ease of use (and, yes, portability), it's not hard to paint a picture that the trend we are already seeing will continue when the developing world embraces tablets the way the developed world already has.

    So yes, I am saying that they will replace PCs. No, that replacement will not be marked by unit sales of tablets eclipsing those of PCs. It will come a few (5?) years later.
  10. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    In the first place, I'm not generalizing my requirements. I'm considering the millions of people who inhabit "Dilbert World," i.e. those folks who aren't coders or engineers, but they use computers eight or more hours a day in their work. They are apparently invisible to many Apple (and specifically iPad) users, but they constitute the lion's share of the folks in the world sitting in front of computer screens.

    You claim that tablets will ultimately replace PC's as tablets connect to multiple screens, enable multiple resizable windows, utilize keyboards, and in general increase their connectivity. Hate to break it to you, but once all that happens, what makes a tablet a tablet no longer exists. It's simply a smaller form factor cpu. And since most workers sitting at their desks have little use for a touch screen interface, a "tablet" isn't a "tablet" anymore. (Note that touch screen interfaces have enjoyed extremely limited acceptance in most office settings. That's because it's far more efficient to control a computer with your hands on a keyboard.)

    It's certainly true that tablets are rapidly increasing their year to year sales, especially in terms of percentage growth. But that doesn't mean PC sales are declining or are likely to. It simply means that one is comparing a product category with a huge installed base to a product category with an initially tiny installed base.

    It's also true that desktop systems are rapidly being replaced by laptops. But that's not because most workers spend their time wandering about the halls computing, much less jet setting about from meeting to meeting. It's because laptops consume less energy and take up less space in ever shrinking cubicles into which most computer users are stuffed. And without a 30 lb desktop cpu to find a spot for, the potential for an additional monitor increases. That's a very good reason to replace a desktop with a laptop system (with equivalent power.) It's not a reason to replace either a desktop or a laptop system with a tablet that has a 10" screen, limited interfacing capabilities, and lacking in the horsepower to provide reliable multitasking.
  11. ghall macrumors 68040


    Jun 27, 2006
    Rhode Island
    For geeks, I don't think it will ever happen. We're going to hang on to our beloved desktop/notebook computers with dear life (I know I will). But for the average consumer, I definitely think we will see tablets eclipse the PC by 2015.
  12. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I agree with what you are saying about the majority of the work force not needing mobile computing, and especially with your point that once you attach a full desktop setup to a tablet, it's just a small factor CPU. And while a mobile professional like Anthony will use such a tablet-CPU in both modes, a majority of the work force are clerical level workers who just work 9 to 5 and have no need or desire to take their work home with them once the workday is over. So there is no reason for businesses to buy tablet computers for these kinds of workers.

    But consider what these people do computing wise after work hours. Currently some of them may not even own a personal computing device. Most of them likely have a desktop or laptop shared among multiple people in a family. But now that they have a choice of buying a tablet device in addition to or instead of a desktop/laptop, more and more people will start to buy tablets for their personal use. A secretary at a law firm would never consider buying a laptop, because she doesn't need to work outside the office. But she might very well buy a Kindle Fire or an iPad so she can read, watch videos, play games, etc during her commute. In this case, the tablet isn't replacing a traditional computer, it's creating a brand new sale where before there was no sale.
  13. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

    Aug 11, 2010
    With the arrival of Windows 8, tablets will be PC's. Fully fledged computers.
  14. anthonymoody thread starter macrumors 68020


    Aug 8, 2002
    -Those Dilbertians could use an iPad 9x% of the time given what they spend their time on. I know, I spent years and years and years in such environments in another professional life.

    -Saying that an iPad or other tablet connected to all manner of other devices doesn't in any way blunt the argument that tablets will overtake and replace PCs, sorry. Your straw man about the the touch interface is simply that (and fwiw a touch interface is far more efficient for may tasks and useful for many more people).

    -PC sales are ALREADY shrinking in the developed world year over year. Check the facts. So while yes the tablet market is new (or, well, at least the iPad is) and the PC market is old and entrenched, there is no reason to believe that the PC unit sales trend seen in the developed world won't continue in general, AND will be seen as well in the developing world as the better price, energy consumption, portability, increasing capabilities, and ease of use of tablets helps them find their way into more such markets around the world (there are many many nations on earth where it is almost impossible, logistically or financially, to buy anything other than a pos desktop or laptop).

    -You can't have it one way re: laptop space/energy/efficiency/portability and another way for tablets. They both achieve the same net result (or can, with continued evolution) once connected to additional "stuff." And, your final straw man regarding lack of sufficient computing power and/or connectivity options in tablets is, once again, not only just that, but misses the mark:

    iOS, the latest and greatest apps, hardware add-ons, and the ipad2, are already far more robust, flexible, powerful and capable of serving a broad array of use cases (and in fact in many specialized niches are already more capable than PC equivalents - see the recent batch of iPad-based audio mixing consoles) than their predecessors of only a year ago. Similarly and by extension, there's absolutely no reason to think that a year from now, the number of things "you just can't do" or can't do well, on an iPad 3, or 4, and with it's surrounding ecosystem, will continue to diminish and asymptotically approach zero. Contrast that with the PC ecosystem which is essentially static* and the argument is only strengthened.

    Said another way, increased performance/capabilities in tablets is something baked into my projections of the future.

    So any debate involving an analysis of trends which attempts to make projections therefrom but that looks at the two things being weighed as equally static is flawed, especially in this case. PCs are PCs, and basically have been since Windows 95. Tablets on the other hand have been and continue to make leaps and bounds in their evolution.

    *As someone else posted, Windows8 tablets may hold the key to turning this debate on its head, or at least complicating it, depending on whether you lump these into tablet sales or PC sales. It remains to be seen how wonderful these things are to use in practice (for my part, I'm not a fan of WP7 and am not overly confident in MSFT's ability to not screw up the experience in W8 on tablets), but in general I would call them tablets and point to them as an example of the evolution of tablets becoming increasingly powerful and capable as has already happened from iPad 1 to 2.
  15. jsh1120 macrumors 65816

    Jun 1, 2011
    No disagreement from me on any of these points. And that's why I suggested earlier in this thread that one might as well ask when tablet sales might eclipse the sales of TV's rather than PC's if one wants to compare reasonably "like" devices in terms of their functions.
  16. APlotdevice, Jan 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012

    APlotdevice macrumors 68040


    Sep 3, 2011
    Windows tablets have been around for a decade. Windows 8 just remedies the interface issues that have always plagued them, and also brings support for ARM processors*. Though I wouldn't be so quick to assume that these improvements will be enough for it to overtake the tablet market, if that is indeed what you're suggesting. Only time will tell.

    *These machines will NOT run conventional (x86) Windows applications however.
  17. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    About 3 years or sooner IMO.

    Not saying Tablets are going to replace PCs, but everyone will seem to have one regardless of whether they have a PC or not. PCs will still be in it's own class.

    Watching how quickly smartphones replaced dumbphones and how quickly Flatscreens replaced Tubes in the last 3-5 years, it's not hard at all to see tablets outselling PCs very soon.
  18. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Well, let's not forget a significant number of people who currently have more computing power than they need. For instance, my boss' wife has a netbook that she only uses for internet surfing and some light emailing. People like her are prime candidates for replacing their "computers" with tablets.

    I think TVs and iPad only share one aspect in common, in that they are both entertainment devices. But TV can only do entertainment, and only one type of entertainment at that, and aren't portable. iPad is portable, can do multiple types of entertaianment (read books, watch videos, play games), in addition to doing some general computing functions. IMO, it has a lot more in common with PCs than with TVs, therefore, it makes more sense to compare it with PC than with TV.
  19. Dr McKay macrumors 68040

    Dr McKay

    Aug 11, 2010
    I worded my answer quite poorly, I meant to say with Windows 8, Windows tablets will become mainstream enough to make a dent in tablet marketshare. Before, tablet versions of Windows were often overpriced, underpowered and horrible touchscreen functionality. With Tablet Windows being fairly difficult to use, while they did exist, they were few and far between. With the rise in cheap tablet hardware, the vast improvement in specs available for tablets, with the vast improvement in touchscreen technology combined with a version of Windows 8 that was completely redesigned with tablets in mind, should make for a huge wave of Windows Tablets hitting the public.

    Thanks to the iPad, the public has really gotten interested in tablet computers. I know that I will be sorely tempted by a Windows 8 tablet, I love my iPad but sometimes I do hit a limitation on it that I have to hop off the sofa and log onto my PC to achieve. Being able to do all of this from the tablet would be very handy.

    As for Windows 8 tablets not running traditional x86 or x64 programs, there will be 2 types of Windows tablets, some will run on ARM processors and rely on metro apps from the app store (and apps specifically coded for ARM apps) and the others will run traditional processors and will run x86 x64 apps.
  20. Carouser macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2010
    I have to LOL at this. People are always bellyaching on this forum that "Tablets will never replace PCs because they can't do everything my computer can". Yet when tablets finally do all those things, people can then say "That doesn't count, because it's not a tablet anymore, it's a 'real' computer." As a result, the whining can continue until the end of time (like it wouldn't anyway).

    But of course you recognize this, as you say:

    Another similar question would be to ask when they run the same OS and GUI.

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