Talking tech since 2003

IDC, a well-known and trusted data analysis firm has recently gathered enough evidence that they say concludes the prediction that the production and sales of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers will surpass that of traditional computers in 2012 – and even as soon as 2011.

A similar conclusion drawn by marketing firm Gartner late last month stated that the mobile market was going to expand at higher rates than the PC market, meaning that the sales of mobile devices would have a higher increase than that of computer sales.  However, Gratner’s statement wasn’t as bold in stating that the market for mobile computers would grow to surpass traditional desktops and laptops.

In 2011, there are expected to be 377 million sales of “app-enabled” mobile devices (this means smartphones and tablets, not simple “dumbphones”), and 402 million sales of traditional PCs.  However, in 2012, the sales of mobile computers is expected to be at 462 million; only slightly higher than the predicted PC sales of 448 million.  Nonetheless, it would still stand that mobile devices would be a larger industry, and we would likely see the same trend continue in the years ahead as well.  The visual representation below shows this predicted trend.

As you can see in the graph (click on the image to view it in a larger scale), both PCs and mobile devices are doing very well right now.  However, even when looking at the increases in PC sales between 2009 and 2010, 2010 and 2011, and 2011 and 2012, we do not see the same steep increase in sales that we do between 2011 and 2012 (predicted).

Also, it is important to realize that prior to this year, there were very few mobile computer sales.  Because of this, there was a lot of information floating around in regards to computer sales in previous years, but no information on mobile sales.  Why is this?  In short, mobile computing was a somewhat insignificant industry prior to this year.  When looking at it in this sense, mobile computer sales are really impressive, because they started recently and really took off.

When looking at the chart, we still see increases in PC sales in upcoming years.  However, I think that down the road we will see two things: further increases in mobile sales, and decreases in PC sales.

You see, if mobile sales increase enough, there will be a greater competition in the market.  Anyone who has any business knowledge knows that competition leads to lower prices, and lower prices mean that more people are capable and willing to purchase said products.  This concept goes beyond simply looking at lower-class Americans who would finally be willing to front the money for a mobile computer, but also includes people in third-world countries who could potentially have easier access to cheaper mobile computers.

And, if mobile sales do really well, people will be more likely to buy tablets, etc. instead of traditional computers.  One aspect that will truly shape this phenomenon will be mobile developers, because if they can make the transitional process easier for day-to-day users, mobile computers will become a more viable computing option.

When all is said and done however, I still cannot see traditional PCs biting the dust quite yet.  Power users and more stationary users are sure to keep their trusted desktops and laptops.  But if mobile sales do well in the coming year, I can see where a “snowball” effect could easily take place, and the PC market could be at risk.


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