Sign of the mobile times: Samsung shutters its desktop PC business. Who’s next?


It’s not the first company and it won’t be the last, but Samsung is getting out of the desktop computer market. Speaking to The Korea Times on Monday, a Samsung executive said, “Demand for conventional desktop PCs is going down. We will allocate our resources to popular connected and portable devices.”

HP Slate 7 in red and grayWhile the idea of moving away from selling desktops in a market where mobile is growing seems obvious, it’s still a milestone for the computer industry as a whole. I think it also speaks to Samsung’s savvy strategies when compared to others that are staying the course. HP is a perfect example: After betting $1.2 billion on mobile at the right time — it purchased Palm in 2010 — HP squandered the opportunity and has only recently brought its first Android tablet to market.

To HP and others in the Android tablet and smartphone space, I say “good luck!” Research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that in the first quarter of this year, Samsung earned 95 percent of the Android smartphone profits. It may not do quite as well in the tablet space, but it’s still among the leaders.

And that’s a perfect reason for Samsung to extract itself from the desktop computing market; why invest resources in a dying breed of unprofitable devices? Sure there will be a need for desktop computers for years yet: think of the PC gamers and enterprises that still haven’t yet moved to laptops and docks. That’s why I say it’s a “dying” and not a “dead” market. Just today Gartner noted that tablets sales will be basically equal to PCs in 2014, while I’m on record aggressively suggesting slates will outsell traditional computers this year.

So I’m not necessarily surprised that Samsung is bidding adieu to the desktop computer. I’m curious which vendor will now follow along and when that will happen.

WWDC Mac Pro

Surely, it’s not going to be Apple, which offered a sneak peak at its provactive Mac Pro desktop refresh last month. HP will be among the last, as will Dell, I think because traditional computing is in their DNA and it’s difficult to transition in that case.

If I had to place a bet, I’d suggest that Sony is next to fully abandon the desktop. It doesn’t have many offerings to begin with and the company is trying to become a more substantial player in the fast-growing Android market.

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