There is no doubting that the internet is a wonderful resource for information, but it also has another murkier side. No, I’m not talking about porn… I’m talking about the many ludicrous headlines which are are obviously designed specifically to attract attention… often with absolutely no regard for the truth. Not too dissimilar to the headline which possibly tempted you into reading this very article. <apologies by the way>
Two of the most widely publicized and prolific subjects over the past few months have been the failure of Windows 8 to catch consumers’ imaginations and the predicted demise of the PC. I am astounded at the sheer volume of misinformation and inane commentary associated with these topics. In many cases it boils down to some so-called expert expressing his or her opinion with total disregard for logic or actual facts. Yep, it’s the headline that counts… to heck with the truth!
Just last week I visited a well respected tech site, one which I frequent fairly often, only to be confronted with the following glaring headline… “Windows 8 causes most precipitous PC decline in history”. It turns out that the basis for this outrageous claim has been predicated almost entirely on a comparison of PC shipment numbers between the first quarter of 2012 and the corresponding quarter in 2013. For someone to come to such a conclusion based on a single statistic displays just how little that person understands about the intricacies and complexities of economics and the market place. Anyone versed in these matters would realize that a quite significant differential between the statistics gathered from one year ago to now is only to be expected… after all, over the past 12 months or so the overall shift in market penetration within the computer and technology industry has been massive.
Let’s take a look then at some of the influences which have actually contributed to Windows 8’s somewhat underwhelming reception and the PC sales downturn:
Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
Many of the Windows 8 doomsayers have re-enforced their argument by comparing early adoption figures for Windows 7 with those for Windows 8, but these numbers are seriously skewed and should not be taken out of context. In reality, Windows 7 was akin to a breath of fresh air following the disaster which was Vista, and users were accordingly keen to upgrade. In comparison, Windows 8 has had the undeniably more difficult job of trying to lure users away from the ever reliable and very popular Windows 7. The two scenarios are like chalk and cheese.
The hardware advancements effect.
The history of PC hardware advancements was pretty much at its pinnacle during the late XP —> Vista —> Windows 7 period but had slowed considerably by the time the Windows 7 —> Windows 8 transition came to fruition. Bear in mind that there is a distinct and direct relationship between major hardware advancements and sales of new machines. As there is also between sales of new machines and operating system sales/upgrade figures. In the earlier scenario many people were upgrading their machines simply to take advantage of the newer technology… and those latest machines were often accompanied by the latest operating system. On the other hand, by the time Windows 8 was launched, advancements in hardware technology had pretty much flattened out. Sure, the user could still improve his or her hardware specs but the days of truly dramatic increases in capacities and performance had pretty much run its course. I am convinced that the almost meteoric advances in hardware technology twixt the later XP years and Windows 7’s release, when compared to today’s much more stable hardware environment, has contributed hugely to the apparent fall off in PC sales numbers. And if PC sales show a decline, the logical consequence is that any new operating system will also suffer a similar fate.
Mobile devices galore!
Finally, we cannot underestimate the huge impact mobile devices have had on the market place, one simply cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence presented by the statistics. The days when the trusty PC was the one and only method for connecting to the internet are gone. Today we have alternatives galore, a veritable plethora of mobile devices all with the ability to connect to the internet at any time and from anywhere. This rapid emergence of mobile technology has bred a new class of users who, dare I say it, do not necessarily need nor want a traditional PC… mobile devices simply fulfill the bulk of their requirements. It’s only logical then, that as mobile device sales have increased, so PC sales have exponentially decreased.
What we have been experiencing over the past few years has amounted to a major shift in the computer/internet user paradigm. There will always be a demand for serious PCs but that demand is undeniably on the decline, being inexorably supplanted by the demand for mobile devices. In the end, the law of supply and demand will almost always dictate the market place. Bottom line; the fall off in PC sales can be largely attributed to the corresponding increases in the demand for mobile devices, and to a lesser extent the slowing down of advancements in PC hardware specs. In my humble opinion, it has very little to do with Windows 8.