Dead PC market – Microsoft is the scapegoat!

To start off with, I do not agree with every decision that Microsoft takes and by far there are products which I consider critical too. But what happened here just shows how narrow-minded some arguments are. The background of the excitement are the conclusions of the market researchers IDC and Gartner on the current situation in the PC market. Both make Microsoft respectively Windows 8 responsible for the death of the PC. Lastly, even the investment bankers at Goldman Sachs and other financial analysts associated and come to absurd statements. Microsoft is here wrongly used as a scapegoat!

Background: Current data from the PC market

According to IDC, in the first quarter of 2013, only 76.3 million devices were shipped. This is a decrease of 14 percent. Gartner’s numbers a day later showing a decline of 11.2 percent, that mean 79.2 million shipped personal computers.

Quickly the culprit for this was identified. Microsoft, respectively Windows 8. IDC actually assumed that Windows 8 should ensure a revival of the PC market. However, Microsoft have worsened the situation, according to IDC, because the customer can not get used to the new tile environment, etc.

Meanwhile, the financial sector had responded. One financial analyst is quoted as follows: “The PC used in the business is a mature market with declining replacement investments and in the consumer market you need not have an Office, so no Windows and thus no Microsoft.” Investment bankers therefore have advised their customers to sell their Microsoft shares.

For me, this statement shows, that investment bankers and financial analysts have no providence and even worse, have not a hunch of ​​the market, they are asked to assess. Instead of critical scrutinize the conclusions of IDC and Gartner initially, unqualified statements are made that will possibly have a financial impact on Microsoft and an entire industry.

Hybrid Tablets are the trend

The PC market is not dead, it has changed in recent years. And if one would argue from the perspective of Gartner and IDC, it would be Apple, who is, with the launch of the iPad, responsible for the death of the PC market.

Certainly, the situation is quite different. The PC is not dead, it has now begun to assume a different shape. In my five cloud computing, mobile and big data predictions for 2013, I pointed out that particularly hybrid tablets will move into the enterprise. Hybrid tablets are tablets with a clip-on or rotating hardware keyboard. This has the background, that tablets help us to use most of the IT, the Internet and other things more convenient. However, for the full application in the enterprise, but also in the private sphere, they are not suitable. At conferences and travels, I regular see users, who bought an external keyboard for their tablet. Hybrid tablets are the best of both worlds. The tablet with its touch screen and an easy to use interface, plus the traditional laptops and their keyboards. Writing long texts on a tablet with the virtual keyboard is no fun and exhausting what are also the reactions of business users. In addition, hybrid tablets will replace today’s conventional laptops. And what runs inter alia on these hybrids? Right, Windows 8 – and even MS Office.

That hybrid tablets are the trend has now also been recognized by Apple. There are initial reports that Apple has filed a patent for a “Hybrid Tablet Notebook“.

User behavior is changing

Just as the technology market develops, our lives and our way we consume technologies is affected. If Microsoft had in 2002 waives the keyboard on their tablet and set on touch instead of a pen and chosen a thinner form factor they had been turn the PC market upside down 11 years ago. However, it was Apple that could go one better at the right time and under the hype of the iPod and iPhone with the iPad.

However, we also see that Microsoft’s concept of a hybrid tablet from 2002 already was the right decision. One may therefore say that Microsoft has already back the right horse at that time. It was, as so often, just not the right time.

Let’s look across to the automobile industry, we see similar changes. “Why are thousands of new cars secretly parking in Bavaria?” Because the orders of the automakers to go back and the sales of new vehicles breaks. “Thousands of cars have to be swapped out to make room for newer models and keep the market alive.”

And why is that? Because the user behavior and the claims change. A high SAP manager has told me at CeBIT that in the interviews of young talents it’s not about whether and which company car to get since a long time. The question is, if you get an iPhone and iPad.

I’ve heard a lecture by a Roland Berger consultant a few days ago. The message was very clear, that the car market as we know it today is dead. Logically, new mobility concepts like flinc, Flinkster, book-n-drive or car2go are much more cost efficient. In many cases it is just not worth more to make large investments in an own car. In addition to the monthly cost of taxes and insurance, gasoline prices are one reason. Here you also can not make a single car manufacturer or model responsible for this mess. It’s about what the customers want.

We are currently experiencing the greatest technological revolution until today, which breaks down directly on our society. Starting from IT concepts (cloud computing, mobile, social media, etc.) the behavior of the users in other industries are also changing. And not a single company is responsible for that!

By Rene Buest

Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies.

Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn.

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