Is the PC Market in Trouble? What Rising Tablet Sales Mean for Businesses

According to research firm IDC, PC shipments are falling, and they’re going to keep going down. They’re predicting that globally, they’ll drop 7.8 percent this year. The first quarter of this year, said IDC, was marked “the worst quarter since IDC began tracking the PC market quarterly in 1994.” Even Apple, the company with among the best selling and best reviewed laptop products on the market, saw a 7.5 percent drop in shipments—and that’s partially because sales of its own iPad are growing. In fact, tablet sales overall are expected to jump a full 58.7 percent in 2013. IDC predicts that by 2015, tablets will outsell the entire PC market, both laptops and desktops, by 2015.

What does this mean for PCs? Are they dead and gone forever, never to be heard from again? Will we someday see a desktop in a museum and have to explain to our children about how we used to suffer terribly, having to do all our work on those behemoth dinosaurs?

A tablet is a PC, though one with a whole different modality. And among the many reasons that they’re as popular as they are is their functionality means that not only can they perform most of the tasks consumers undertake on a laptop or PC, they can also consume content in a whole new, intuitive way. Plus tablets are the pinnacle of inexpensive, stunningly beautiful technology with tremendous flexibility and potential, both for personal use and for the business world to harness.

The hands-on pleasure of tablets mean consumers are drawn to them and the intuitive, inherently personal gestures like tapping and swiping and pinching they require. It changes the whole relationship of the user to the technology and the content they’re consuming—and it is a fascination and familiarity that businesses can harness in their marketing and promotions.

That’s why the trend away from traditional PCs is not just localized to just the consumer market. Many businesses are finding ways to replace their traditional PCs and button-based interfaces with tablets, as a way to better engage with customers and empower employees. Where you might have walked into a big box retailer and found multiple PCs serving employees as POS terminals, now you will find a proliferation of tablets, serving both the customer and the employee. Why?

Tablets are more approachable. As a consumer, we have been trained to be hands-off with PCs in a retail environment. Traditional POS operating systems are very complex and generally only employees know how to extract the information you need. Tablets make you want to reach out and touch them—and consumers enjoy the experience.

Tablets can show a wide variety of engaging media and content. Retailers and businesses have a growing library of content and media they can use to educate, and even entertain, their customers. Tablets now give them the ability to leverage this media.

Tablets are lower cost and have a much smaller footprint. Tablets are dropping in price as the market grows stronger, making the initial investment and roll-out cost effective and good for your bottom line. And once you’ve got them installed, you see that they’re much more aesthetically pleasing, helping you create a more attractive store environment right out of the gate. Instead of an entire counter to hold a computer, monitor, mouse and keyboard, a tablet is easily mountable on a shelf or on a small space on a counter.

What it boils down to? The tablet revolution in the consumer market means that businesses have a natural entry point into consumer consciousness and interest. It’s the future of marketing and advertisement, with the kind of cost-effectiveness that means a return more than the worth of the initial investment.

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About the Author: Shay Thomson