Still Unknown PC’s Future

Can the PC Business Survive?The business of selling Windows based laptops and desktops are at a critical point. The industry is still suffering from profit loss, notably with the most recently high profile exit of the PC business by Sony. Previously, many experts believed the PC business could have been saved by Windows 81. Unfortunately, the result was (and still is) much less than anticipated.

Is there still a future in the PC business? Most insiders will say they’re cautiously optimistic. After several years of lost revenues due to falling prices and lack of consumer demand, the industry is beginning to cut its losses. Several promised innovations, such as integrating the computer with TV, did not pan out. The PC itself sees no significant improvement in the technology, other than the usual CPU and OS upgrades. Laptops are starting to become more like a tablet, such as a “convertible tablet“, but the cost and usability are questionable when compared to the sleek and highly marketable Apple iPad.

A glimmer of hope is in the cloud services. With the rising demand of highly portable and cheaper devices, such as tablets and Chromebooks, the direction is to provide products on the lower end of the PC units.  But, there is a big dependency on the ubiquity of wireless infrastructure, such as Wi-Fi or 4G/LTE. Then there are the security concerns over possible data leaks and hijacking. The balancing act is still being performed.

The PC industry’s downward spiral may also be contributed to the dependance of corporate and government mass purchases. In the past, they were always reliable sources of revenue, much more than consumers. However, in this tough economy, with rising cost on both private and public sectors, those revenue streams have dried up. No one expects high volume sales to increase the bottom line, any more.

So where’s the industry going? Like any good business, it has to stay on course: Continue to innovate and cut cost.  It needs to weather storm. The free market will sort itself out and consumers will pick the best from the lot. Perhaps to be in the last few to remain standing will be the winner in this highly competitive business.

  1. Even the release of Windows 8.1 failed to change people’s perceptions []

Will Windows 8 Save the PC Business?

Windows_8_screenshotPredictions are in already: Windows 8 will be irrelevant. The clues seem to support the suspicion – the masses are already happy with Windows 7. Enterprise already made a substantial investment upgrading to Windows 7. Another migration in 2012 is just too soon.

But putting all that aside, the PC manufacturers need to support Windows 8 because it’s the platform that will finally bring integration of desktop PCs with Tablets1 – especially in an Enterprise environment.  There’s also a good list of new features that will ensure some to upgrade.  Plus, there are millions of new PCs and Laptops to sell, every year.

Windows 8 is still relevant and it will save the PC business.

  1. As demonstrated in Microsoft’s Build Conference 2011 []

The PC is Evolving

Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrathin Laptop

Toshiba Portege Z830 Ultrathin Laptop

Taking the headline from Time Business article, the PC industry is certainly in a different place now.  The PC, aka Microsoft based laptops and desktops, have always been the corporate standard for productivity machines. On the Enterprise level, corporate users demand Microsoft products (ie. Powerpoint) suites, VPN to access internal servers behind the firewall, Remote Desktop for Windows servers, and in some cases, multiple monitors for multitasking needs.

However, there’s been grumbling about the tablets taking over Enterprise issued PCs and Laptops – mainly due to juggernaut Apple’s iPad.  In response, there are now many more tablet offerings from RIM, Toshiba, ACER, or ASUS.  But such ventures do not always end up well. HP pulled the Touchpad after 6 weeks of production!1 That’s just the start – who knows who else will quit the quest to quell the iPad.

There’s a glimmer of hope to revitalize the PC business: the Ultra-thin laptops are coming.  Recently, Toshiba has just announced a good looking one called the Z830 coming this November.  Lenovo has an offering. Even ACER is in the mix.

Just in time too.  There’s a need the lightest portable laptop that will not break one’s back. It helps that it looks as cool as the Macbook Air.

One problem though: price.  It’s understandable why Apple charges way too much for the Macbooks – they’ve historically done this since the Apple II days2. But the PC should not cost as much. To be more competitive, there’s an expectation the PC Ultrathin laptops to be (much) cheaper than the Macbook Air, if they want to sell more of it. Kind of like the HP Touchpad fire sale.

So here’s hoping the evolution of the PC is towards something more useful, powerful, affordable, and highly portable.  There’s still life in the PC world.

  1. Like the old saying from Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca: “Lead, follow, or GET OUT OF THE WAY!”  It’s easier to follow the leader. In HP’s case, they sure did got out of the way. []
  2. 1980’s []