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Summary:

Mobile computers will chip away at the desktop PC market according to research, led by notebooks that will be shipping 291 million units by 2014. The mobile segment — notebooks, netbooks and tablets combined — will ship over 400 million units in that same year.

Computing Devices Graphic

New statistics by research firm In-stat show that mobile computing has won.  Mobile computers, led by notebooks, will chip away at the desktop PC market, which will be shipping 291 million units annually by 2014. The mobile computer segment — notebooks, netbooks and tablets combined — will be shipping over 400 million units in that same period. Notebooks will represent 52 percent of the computing market, even though the young tablet market will see a 123 percent growth between now and 2014.

The tablet segment was kick-started by the successful launch of the iPad , and will continue to grow as companies bring models based on the Android platform to market. While notebooks will remain the computers purchased by most, the tablet will begin to rival the netbook/smartbook according to these numbers. The rapid rise of the tablet will be a hot topic at our Mobilize conference later this month.

These numbers don’t address the rise of the smartphone as mobile computers, and recent figures from IDC have a whopping 270 million phones shipping this year. It’s not unreasonable to believe that today’s high-powered smartphones can impact the sales of mobile computers, particularly the netbook/smartbook segment. The mobile computer, no matter its form, has won the war with the lowly desktop.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Are You Empowering Your Mobile Work Force?

  1. They’re wrong. As tablet computers become more ubiquitous and capable, and likely less expensive, tablets + desktops will cannibalize notebook sales (they are already cannibalizing netbook sales, and you can get a tablet AND a desktop for the price of a notebook, or less), so, as the tablet wedge of the pie increases, the desktop will rebound with it, the notebook will shrink, and the netbook will all but disappear.

    Notebooks will remain a necessary item for some small number of users, but, for almost everyone else, a desktop + tablet will make them more productive and more mobile.

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  2. The dominant combination that most people will have, will be:
    -touchscreen phone, up to around the optimal screen size of around 4 inches, some of the phones with sliding physical keyboards,
    and
    -laptop: more powerful dual core netbooks are now available, or larger notebooks

    Phones, up to around 4 inches, are convenient, to put in the pocket, use with one hand. Larger than that is too big to fit in the pocket, and people need a bag to carry the device. If people are going to use a bag, they would rather have a laptop, with its physical keyboard for easier input,than the larger screen tablet- touchscreen-only input is cumbersome

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  3. This is a good take on android and on smart phones eating into the PCs. Not sure if we can say mobile has won – as we think it is more an ease of use/put away thing [without this huge black/brown/white beast in the corner of the living room] in the consumer market segment than true mobility needs [coupled with tumbled prices differential between desktop and notebook]. More like comfort and aesthetics have won. In business, desktop will stay due to security reasons.

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  4. Most people don’t need the power of a desktop nowadays. Modern mobile computers do the basics more than well enough, and mobility can be quite an intoxicating capability.

    But you’re fooling yourself if you think the desktop will disappear entirely. Why?

    Games, for a start. Even almost three years after its release, “But can it run Crysis?” is still a valid question today. Core gamers insist on nothing less than a custom-built desktop with high-end parts, and before you bring up consoles, they have some genre deficiencies, especially where (combat) flight simulations and RTSs are involved.

    Production software, be it 3ds max, Maya, Softimage, Lightwave, modo, Blender, etc. for 3D work, AutoCAD and such for-you guessed it-CAD, Photoshop, Painter, Illustrator, GIMP, and such for 2D work, and of course, programming suites like Visual Studio benefit greatly from a desktop’s power as well.

    It may become more of a niche, and it may take a radically different form in the future (I’m betting on a home server of sorts), but the need for personal powerhouses that eschew mobility for raw upgradability, expandability, and above all, power will always exist.

    Oh, and if you’re talking sales, desktops sell less because people upgrade the things more often since it’s easier to do so (especially regarding graphics cards). Then there’s all the custom-built enthusiast computers that don’t register as a sale for a whole desktop, but a CPU sale, a RAM sale, a motherboard sale, a graphics card sale, a PSU sale, a case sale, a HDD sale, and so on and so forth.

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