One-third of PC users shifting activities to post-PC devices: Report

One-third of PC users shifting activities to post-PC devices: Report

Summary: Maybe it's about time the tech industry gets ready for the waning of the importance of the PC?


There's yet more evidence—if it were needed—that the PC's dominance is giving way to post-PC devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

(Credit: Samsung)

An NPD Group report suggests that PC users continue to migrate traditional desktop activities towards mobile devices.

According to the report, a total of 37 percent of consumers who used to access content on their PCs have switched to using their tablets and smartphones.

The two activities that have switched the most from PC to post-PC devices is Web browsing and Facebook. Meanwhile, 27 percent of smartphone owners have decreased both their Web browsing and Facebook usage on their desktop and notebooks.

There's a similar shift among tablet users, with another 27 percent saying they are using their PC less frequently for accessing the Web, and 20 percent using the PC less frequently for accessing Facebook.

The PC is still king when it comes to Web, with 75 percent of owners using it for this task, compared to 61 percent of smartphone users, and 53 percent of tablet owners. Facebook interaction follows the same pattern, with 63 percent still accessing the site using a PC, compared to 55 percent of smartphone owners, and 39 percent of tablet owners.

It’s not just mobile devices that are eroding PC usage. Internet-connected TVs are also attracting attention, with 21 percent of consumers with a TV connected to the Internet now switching from their computer to using their TV to watch video from streaming services—not limited to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Instant Video.

This shift is going to have a marked effect on a number of different industries:

  • The idea that you can replace a PC with a smartphone or tablet is bad for PC makers who are already enduring a rough patch;

  • The flip-side of this is that what's bad for PC makers is good for post-PC device makers. Right now people are replacing their smartphones and tablets more often than they used to replace their PCs, so the shorter upgrade cycle is good. It remains to be seen however if the upgrade cycle remains as aggressive in coming years;

  • Companies who rely on advertising need to get their ducks in a row because mobile generates less revenue that desktop and notebooks;

  • Engagement is another factor. Gaming is big on Facebook, but this doesn't translate well onto post-PC devices. How will social media sites keep people engaged when using mobile devices?

Times are changing, and tides are shifting, and the tech industry as a whole needs to be preparing for the waning of the importance of the PC.

Topics: PCs, Mobility, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Huh?

    I thought web browsing and visiting Facebook were roughly the same thing? Why is Facebook being singled out like it's a separate activity? Why not email, which arguably is more of a separate activity than cyber-stalking your friends.
    • Probably

      Probably because most smarphone and tablet users are visiting Facebook through an app and not a browser. The distinction is, in some ways, academic, but it's still a distinction.
      • +1

        Forgot about the apps.
  • Come on now kids.

    Does anyone think for one second that people who work in an office setting, be it in an Enterprise, academic, or research situation, are going to stop using a desktop computer, and start using a Tablet or Smartphone? If you are completely brain dead.

    The PC/MAC desktop is going nowhere. It may be augmented by one of these devices...but will never...ever...REPLACE them.
    • Comepletely, no... but that's not the point

      Will post-pc devices replace PCs entirely? No, not until they basically become PCs themselves. But I guarantee that a lot of familes that would, in the past, have owned a desktop PC and two laptop computers will find that all they really need is one destop PC and a couple of tablets. And there will be some people who decide that they don't need a PC at all.

      If you're a computer manufacturer that is NOT what you want to hear. You want market growth, not shrinkage. This is why any computer manufacturer that wants to stay financially solvent and continue to grow will have to start producing post-pc devices.
      • Only for some

        Tablets will replace some desktops, but only for users who never needed a desktop in the first place. For example, my wife's aunt never used her desktop for anything other than email and Facebook. She bought an iPad and stopped using her desktop entirely. She has no plans to ever buy another. So, yes, tablets are replacing desktops in some cases. Then again, for most people who are using desktops to do work, a tablet will never completely replace the desktop. Instead, the tablet becomes a great desktop augmentation device.

        So, tablets are definitely responsible for a percentage of the drop in desktop sales. The question is, "how big is that percentage?"
        • There are more people

          Who don't need a desktop than you think there are.
        • I think that percentage is quite big!

          Most people probably bought their first home computer in the 90s when the Internet arose for the masses, and the price of PCs began to dip below $2K. Now with smartphones and tablets the majority of these people can now do the same things and more for less.
          Sure your cubical dweller will probably have one for a long time to come, but they also had them before most home users did too.
          • You're right and here is why...

            Most folks I know aren't exactly rich, but they do get pretty good deals on smart phone service with unlimited 3G access. So now they decide they don't need internet, because that is one more expense as well as the land line; so they ditch both of them and go smartphone all the way! Now they only pay for ONE service, and not three! Makes perfect sense to me.
      • This is a moot discussion...

        Tablets/Smart Phones derive their usefulness from PC hardware. It is a matter of production process, the PC platform allows makingthe device larger whilst the post-PC devices are working on miniaturizing that technology. WiFi was a PC only concept until they could make it small enough to fit comfortably inside a handheld device (or the USB add-on) but now there are WiFi USB Memory Sticks.
        The difference we will see is the switch of people who, had they been given the choice at the time, would not have purchased a PC to interact with the web (i.e. such as my father who had a WebTV years ago having no interest in a PC).
        The PC will always be faster, cheaper, and all-around more powerful than handhelds, it is inherent of hardware evolution.
    • In a business setting true

      But the number of consumers who have been buying PC's for home use will dramatically shrink over time. Take my wife for instance, she has a very nice HP laptop that she used to use almost nightly to browse the web, watch things on netflix at times, check email, etc...

      Now that she has a Samsung Note 2, she hasn't turned her laptop on for over a month. Everything that she used to do on the Laptop, she's doing on her phablet. She never needed a full PC, she needed an internet appliance, which the Note handles quite well.
  • Just another non-sense propaganda report.

    Consumers may occassionaly check emails or facebook or do some price checking while inside a shop thru their mobiles devices, but that doesn't mean its post-pc.

    The report is nothing but propaganda... mainly targeted at the consumption for idiots...
    • No idea

      No idea what your comments is supposed to mean, but I guerantee that more than one notebook computer has not been pruchased because the potential customer realized that he could do everything he wanted it for on a tablet.
      • Any heavy-duty typing or looking at the fine details of a high-res. image?

        Then the tablet/phone won't do the job.
        Dave Keays
    • This is the one guy with a Windows Phone 8

      ROFLOL! Like you could spot a trend, not! LOL!!
  • Isn't the study flawed because of what is being used as the data?

    The study starts with traditional desktop activities defined. Yes it is easier for me to look up an actor on my phone while watching TV then it would be for me to run upstairs to the computer to do it like I have done it in the past, but is that "traditional desktop activity"? I've always defined traditional desktop activities as research and desktop printing, things that are not easy to do from a smart phone or tablet. I would say it isn’t any easier to do these things from a laptop on the couch. This is just an extension of PC’s not a replacement from what I have seen.
    • Extension of the PC

      I am sure struggling PC OEMs are not viewing iPads and (Android tablets) running phone OS as an extension of their PCs market. Laptops were a natural extension of the PC, but tablets are on a whole other level of computing/paradigm. It breaks the marriage of having the same OS on both desktop and mobile PC. Microsoft is fighting back with the Surface and Metro trying to keep consumers tied to Windows for all their computing needs but not sure their effort is working well.
      • You may be assuming that

        People can afford to upgrade their PC at the same time they’re buying a tablet. For many it’s a tablet this year, PC next year kind of approach I would have to guess. I don’t see someone who bought a new computer every three years going out and buying a $500 tablet every year. A $50- $200 phone every other year I can see, but nothing beyond that.
        • That didn't stop consumers in the past

          Substitute tablets with flat screen tv's or XBoxs, PlayStation, kids DS. Consumers were purchasing consumer electronics along with new PCs long before the iPad showed up. It's poor excuse to say consumers can't purchase a new pc while at the same time purchasing a new electronic device or tablet. There was no problem doing so in the past.

          The problem is, many don't see a need to run out and replace their PCs when they already have a device that can handle 90% of their daily computer tasks.
  • Wel l first of all it says "one third of desktop users" not all.

    Which logically means that perhaps one third or desktop users never needed the power of a desktop to do what they do. And a mobile device can do all that they need/want. It does not mean the desktop will go away just that in the future there will be less desktops sold.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn