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8/19/2013
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Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs

Tablets can't and won't replace personal computers inside most small and midsize businesses.

Tablet Buying Demystified: 10 Tips
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Tablet Buying Demystified: 10 Tips
Tablets are in vogue, with surging sales that have only recently shown signs of tapering off. PCs, on the other hand, are not cool. Sales have plodded along, failing to impress a tech industry that's perpetually fascinated not only with what's new but also what's next.

The conclusions drawn from these trends are to be expected: Tablets are cannibalizing PC sales! The PC is dead! Mobility reigns! Yet recent research from Techaisle, which focuses on small and midsize business (SMB) IT habits, suggests some of the sky-is-falling proclamations about the future of the PC are at best misguided, if not altogether off-target.

"Those who predict that the PC is dead are not seeing the picture correctly," said Techaisle analyst Anurag Agrawal in an email to InformationWeek. "They are probably getting carried away by the current wave of tablet adoption."

Agrawal, who recently wrote a blog post on the topic, said that there's no doubt that some people are buying tablets in lieu of PCs -- especially consumers who are put off by a confusing and complex PC purchase decision.

[ Can Microsoft win in the tablet arena? Read Microsoft's Next Surface Tablets: 7 Must-Do's. ]

But for the majority of small and medium-size businesses, the tablet-as-PC-replacement scenario simply isn't a reality: 68% of U.S.-based SMBs that have purchased tablets did so to fill new or complementary functions, not to replace PCs. Only 16% bought a tablet specifically to replace a traditional laptop. The complementary scenario numbers tick higher in some other countries, according to Techaisle's recent polling of 9,500 SMBs worldwide: 75% in Canada, for instance, and 70% in the U.K. Among U.S. SMBs planning future tablet purchases, 74% said the devices will be used to complement, rather than replace, PCs.

This rings true for Steve Cummins, director of digital marketing and communications at Dittman Incentive Marketing. The 35-person firm, which manages group travel incentive programs for sales teams and other corporate clients, recently purchased iPads for its "travel team" -- on-site event managers and coordinators who accompany customers on trips. The Apple devices aren't taking the place of PCs; rather, they're replacing big binders of paper and fulfilling tasks that were never optimal on a laptop or desktop. Dittman's corporate office remains 100% PC-based.

"The use of tablets hasn't shifted our purchasing schedule for PCs," Cummins said via email, adding that different devices best suit different tasks. "The advantage to us with tablets is their ability to be easily carried everywhere and 'always on,' and this is most important when we are on-site at a resort destination managing one of our travel programs," he said. On the other hand, the tablet isn't a be-all tool; for example, employees have found spreadsheet work challenging on the devices, noted Cummins. "Even with a Bluetooth keyboard, this can be cumbersome on a tablet," he said.

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Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 7:49:59 AM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
and that is why burying the desktop after the metro and officially calling it legacy scared all users and developers with common sense.
at the end of the day we will have ms either firing ballmer and keeping providing dominant desktop computing platform, or ms keeping ballmer, pc market collapsing, and people doing stuff on mostly non wintel tablets (and osx) through backends mostly on not wintel servers, with ms being the thirs smartphone company on the ay to join blackberry fate.
Palpatine
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Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/21/2013 | 7:44:41 AM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
Interestingly enough, smb sales force are a very active area of transition from pc to taclets after w8 release, but not toward w8! I'm seeing a lot of smb going to android or ipad because all the outcome of windows 8 fuss for their was plainly "windows is dead".
Quite uncanningly, w8 has failed where it was meant to triumph, hordes of white collars are now accustomed to android and ios and the "me too" absurd move from ms has only accelerated the idea windows is no longer needed, even in smb.
As for what i can see smb replacement rate is very high now if you count every white collar now has a non wintel device alongside an ageing pc, and that there aren't, in hundreds smb i can see, ANY plan to buy w8 machines to replace xp ones.
xp decommissioning will be ms armageddon in its smb stronghold.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/20/2013 | 8:19:10 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
I expect that will change before too long, after Adobe Photoshop loses its lock on the market.
Onyemobi Anyiwo
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Onyemobi Anyiwo,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 7:06:57 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
I also imagine how difficult programming would be if you used a tablet rather than a laptop.
elleno
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elleno,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 7:00:36 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
Common sense at last. I use my tablet for reading, surfing the web, looking up info, running apps, but for proper work - writing a letter to a client, analyzing a spreadsheet or dealing with email in business - nothing beats a PC.

Business are not swapping out PCs any time soon. And nor are consumers who do more than consume information.
Guest
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Guest,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 6:36:10 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
I also imagine how difficult programming would be if you used a tablet rather than a laptop.
GBARRINGTON196
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GBARRINGTON196,
User Rank: Strategist
8/20/2013 | 4:42:45 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
You CAN'T operate a digital darkroom with a tablet. You can do cutsie pie edits for upload to Facebook, but you can't do serious work.
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2013 | 2:12:40 PM
re: Are PCs Dead? Not For SMBs
"Eventually, the same factors that currently
affect PC sales -- product maturity, marketplace density, extended
replacement cycles and, yes, competition from new technologies -- will
catch up to tablets, too."

Yup, this exactly. PCs won't be dead for a long, long time. (As popular as they were? Well, no. But far from dead.)
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