Does Windows 8.1 Have Any Chance of Salvaging PC Sales?


The global PC market just took the biggest nosedive of the last twenty years, just in time for Microsoft’s new operating system Windows 8.1. The new OS has some great features, but they have been largely overshadowed by user distaste for the new interface.

Some are optimistic about the second quarter’s sales, speculating that back-to-school shoppers will boost numbers. Will that be enough to bring PCs back from the brink though? Here are some things to consider regarding this trend.

Sales are Down for PCs While Other Devices are Up

Let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room up front. Wireless devices like smartphones and tablets are choking out the PC industry. With all of the advances to these devices in the last several years, it should not come as a surprise that they are replacing desk and laptop computers. Simply put, PCs are a dying breed.

According to a Gartner report, an astonishing 70% of devices sold in 2012 were either tablets or smartphones. Sure, traditional computers will still likely be a standard fixture in home and corporate settings — for a while at least — but the emphasis is undeniably on other devices these days.

PCs Last Longer Than They Ever Have

For a long time PCs dominated the market, and they seemed untouchable. People just couldn’t imagine life without their standard desk and laptop computers. The recession we have experienced over the last decade or so really changed the game.

People have stretched their dollars as far as they’ll go. In an age when streaming movies and games on high-speed internet at home is what the average consumer is using their computer for, it’s easier to justify the monthly bill for companies like CenturyLink than on new hardware. It’s easier to spend $100 on antivirus software, or have Best Buy’s Geek Squad give a computer a tune-up than it is to drop several hundred on a new model.

Seasonal Boosts May Affect Numbers

It’s hard to say whether back-to-school sales will boost sales. If they do, who knows if it will be enough to make up for the recent drop. HP’s recent numbers show that its PC sales fell by 18% compared to last year. Every market fluctuates, but this recent trend is looking bleak for PC manufacturers.

People Love new Gadgets, But Crave Familiarity

When new technologies are introduced, the public usually snatches them up at lightning speed. The technology of tablets and smartphones is and new, but people will eventually go back to what they know, if only in part. Tablets and smartphones are designed to work on their own, but also to work in tandem with traditional computers anyway.

In short, no, the PC market will probably not recover from this recent decline in sales. That doesn’t mean they are dying out, it just means other devices are taking their place at the top of the food chain. Just like the typewriter did not disappear the minute the computer made its appearance, the traditional computer isn’t going anywhere. For a while a least.