Best Argument: No
PCs will likely never go away
Why? I don't believe it falls squarely with the PC manufacturer. I feel we have yet to reach a point where the traditional PC model is replaced by something better. With that, PC demand will remain even as we venture into a post-PC world.
Having said that, it's not as cut-and-dry for PC makers. Most traditional PC makers have already pushed into the tablet world -- with some hits and misses -- and some will not survive. I think later on down the line, mergers and further cultural transitions will further dictate how we use computers, and PC builders will have to bundle together to weather the likely market share storms.
The thin-client approach that endorses cloud technology will develop during the Windows 8 lifetime. Despite its abhorrent visuals, it will keep the traditional PC business ticking over until Windows 9 -- when it will likely regain traditional PC focus.
Perlow said it well: This is about whether PC companies can sustain a business model on building and selling PCs. For that, it's a clear and obvious yes.
The writing is on the wall
Look, you don't have to be Carnac the Magnificent to see the writing on the wall. It's painfully obvious that we still have too many PC manufacturers and they have too many redundant products to sell, with a falling demand for their wares.
The majority of consumers desire and require inexpensive, mobile devices that do the basics (Web, Email, Social Networking) along with easy to use apps that leverage data stored in the Cloud.
Conversely, businesses and the enterprise want devices that are low cost, power-efficient, low maintenance and easily manageable, with the ability to leverage applications and data running in their datacenters.
Only Post-PC devices such as tablets, ARM-based systems and thin clients (such as Google's Chromebox) can achieve this.
Sure, some people will still require the horsepower and complexity of the PC. But this debate was never about the PC itself going away; it's whether or not PC companies as a whole can sustain a business model on revenue largely dependent on PCs.
And to that, the answer is a resounding no.
PC ecosystem faces transformation
This is a topic that we've debated before and we're certainly going to be debating again in the future. This is where a lot of big stuff is happening -- like Apple riding strong iPhone and iPad sales to pass Microsoft and IBM and become the world's most valuable technology company. And, it's where a lot of big stuff is going to be happening in the next several years -- thin clients, desktop virtualization, PC/smartphone convergence, BYOD, and more.
As Zack explained, the rise of tablets isn't going to put HP or Dell or Microsoft or Intel out of business any time soon. In fact, PCs are going to easily outsell tablets every year for the next five years. However, when we look at the overall mobile device market, there is still a huge growth curve ahead for smartphones to replace traditional mobile phones, especially in the developing world where these smartphones are going to become the de facto computers for the masses. When you combine that with the fact that tablets are eating the bottom out of the PC market, then you suddenly see how the traditional PC is going to evolve into specialized tool for high-end workers.
That's why I have to vote against the crowd on this one and side with Perlow, who more clearly articulated the future trajectory of the market and what it means for the way today's PC ecosystem is going to have to transform itself in the years ahead.