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

Maybe it's about time the tech industry gets ready for the waning of the importance of the PC?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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