The Guardian had an interesting article yesterday in which the author (or, at least, the subeditor who wrote the headline) speculated that PC sales have passed their peak. Quoting Gartner and IDC, it noted that year-on-year shipments for the first quarter worldwide were off by a few percentage points; Asia/Pacific and Latin America were the only regions that saw increases in PC shipments, and the decline in PC sales was significant in the U.S.
Depending on whose numbers you go by, the drop in sales for the land of the free and the home of the brave was anywhere from 6 to 10 percent; in explanation, both firms pointed to the emergence of the tablet computer market driven by Apple’s iPad – a device that wasn’t available in Q1 of 2010. They added that other factors could have contributed to the sales shortfall, such as an increase in useful life or the lack of a compelling reason to buy new hardware. I suspect that all three teamed with the continuing economic doldrums to give potential customers a reason to hold off, or consider new device types altogether.
It’s way too soon to be speculating that we’ve passed “peak PC” in the U.S. and Europe, but we may be approaching that point. In the fairly limited orbit of my nearest and dearest, I can point to three iPads having been gifted in the last six months, while I can’t think of a single household that’s purchased a new PC. As the saying goes, if you collect enough anecdotes, you wind up with data.