7 ways OEMs could inject new life into the stagnant PC market

The PC industry has run out of steam, and the OEMs are doing little to help kick start sales other than tinker with form factors.

The PC industry is dying. If you don't believe me, take a look at how some of the big names in the industry – companies such as Intel, AMD, Nvdia, and so on – are frantically trying to carve out new markets.

But the PC market is far from dead. In fact, I'd argue that the biggest problem facing the PC industry is stagnation. PC makers have, for too many years, been gliding along and counting on more gigahertz and gigabytes – and new versions of Windows – to sell hardware. Those days are over, and OEMs need to start thinking outside the box.

Here are some things that OEMs can do and promote to help us fall in love with the PC once again.

1 – Focus on power (again)

I remember a time when people would buy a new PC because it was a few megahertz faster than their old one. Good times.

But then chip makers shifted away from concentrating on clock cycles and started adding more cores, more threads, and more efficient architectures. While people could get their heads around MHz and GHz, throwing threads and cores into the mix made it too complex, and as a result PC OEMs started to put less emphasis on CPU power.

But power is where the PC dominates, and it is the single clearest advantage that they have over post-PC devices such as smartphones and tablets. Leverage this. For example, how about pushing a PC powered by AMD's 5GHz processor ?

2 – Productivity

People can do a lot on their smartphones and tablets, but there little doubt that they can get more done in less time by putting down the mobile device and sitting in front of a PC.

It might seem bland, but the humble keyboard and mouse offer the best way for people to interact with the digital world.

We've seen plenty of ads for smartphones and tablets that show people what they can do with their post-PC devices, and this seems to work. PC ads, in comparison, seem nebulous and do little to promote the benefits of owning a modern PC.

Start showing what the PC can do, and how it can make people's lives easier.

3 – Stop tinkering with form factors

One way that OEMs have tried to reinvigorate the PC market is by tinkering with form factors. Hybrids and convertibles are examples of such experimentation.

Problem is, there's no proven market – or for that matter, demand – for these reimagined PCs. They exist because OEMs needed a way to make existing hardware better suited to Windows 8's touch interface.

Bottom line is that OEMs need to stop messing with form factors and start focusing on what people want from a modern PC. If they don't know what this is, then it's time to research the market rather than trying to create Frankenstein hybrids of PCs and post-PC devices.

4 – The expandable PC

When you buy a PC, you are buying a platform that you can build on. You can add more storage, better peripherals, more displays, printers, scanners, and much more.

While you can do a lot of this with a smartphone or tablet, it's never the same. A PC is a command center you sit in front of to work on, not a device you carry and use in the palm of your hand. The static nature of a PC – semi-static if it is a notebook – offers big advantages, so promote them!

5 – The PC as the ideal companion device

Once upon a time we looked at smartphones and tablets were seen as companion devices for PCs. Now that post-PC devices are all the rage, why not turn this on its head and highlight the advantages of having a PC as a companion for a smartphone or tablet.

There are plenty of ways that smartphone and tablet owners can leverage a full PC, and this means that with the right marketing — and proper setup of the PC – these users can be leveraged.

6 – Longevity

Smartphone and tablet makers expect that you will upgrade every year or so. In comparison, a PC – even a cheap PC – can have a much longer lifespan. For people looking to save money, PCs are, in the long run, a better choice.

7 – Bundles

How about combining a PC with a tablet into a single offer? As long as the price was right I can see this appealing to people who don't want to put too much effort into wading through specs to choose the right hardware.

And if the PC was set up ready for the tablet, and had custom features – for example, perhaps it was set up to use the tablet as a second screen, or the tablet was set up to remotely control the PC – then this could appeal to those who like simplicity.