At The Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference in June, Apple CEO Steve Jobs compared the PC to a farm truck, saying that when America was an agrarian economy: “All cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farm. Now trucks are one in 25 to 30 vehicles sold.” Whether you think PCs will shrink or grow in importance seems to depend partly on semantics. During the same conference, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer countered: “I think people are going to be using PCs in greater and greater numbers for years to come. . . . The PC as we know it will continue to morph form factor. The real question is, what are you going to push.”
Jobs may not view the iPad as a PC, but we do.
Our view is that the consumer PC market in the US is indeed getting bigger: Over the next five years, PC unit sales across all form factors will increase by 52%. In fact, desktops are the only type of PC whose numbers will be fewer in 2015 than they are today — and even desktops will benefit from innovation in gaming and 3D. We detail our findings in a new report, The US Consumer PC Market In 2015. Clients can read the full report on our Web site, but here are a few key takeaways:
- US consumers will buy more PCs in 2015 than they do in 2010.
- Growth will come from new form factors like tablets, but laptop sales will increase steadily also.
- Tablets will cannibalize netbooks, outselling netbooks starting in 2012.
- In 2015, 23% of all PCs sold to consumers in the US will be tablets.
- Desktops aren’t dead. Fewer desktops will be sold in 2015 than in 2010, but in 2015, they’ll still be used by more consumers than any other type of PC.
The bottom line for product strategists: Plan for growth in new form factors but also anticipate the continued relevance of “traditional” PCs, which aren’t becoming farm trucks anytime soon.