These seem to be tough times for PC vendors. Global PC sales were down 9.6 per cent in the first quarter, according to Gartner, while the latest figures from Canalys show that the same period was the sixth consecutive quarter of falling PC shipments.
Of course, these headline figures mask a more complex situation where some types of system, such as the so-called 2-in-1 devices that can be configured as a laptop and a slate-mode tablet, continue to be popular, while interest in other types continues to evaporate.
One surprise is that tablets, which have been touted in recent years as replacing the PC, have also seen a decline in sales, save for premium models such as the iPad Pro and Surface Pro.
There are many reasons for this decline, not least of which is that other devices have displaced the PC as the primary way that many people, especially consumers, access content and the internet.
Smartphones can provide access to email, social networks, music and videos thanks to mobile network access, for example, and can be carried in a pocket wherever the owner goes, scoring highly on the convenience scale.
Meanwhile, on the corporate side, PCs continue to be the chief endpoint device for workers to get their job done, even if that role is now taken more and more by laptops rather than banks of desktop PC systems.
This is because a full-blown PC is still the most versatile and effective tool for many purposes, especially running multiple demanding business applications at the same time.
However, it appears that the refresh cycle for PCs in the corporate sphere has lengthened. At one time, it wasn't unusual for a large enterprise to replace a desktop fleet on a three-year cycle, but organisations now typically keep systems for five years or even longer.
Extended replacement cycles are down to a number of factors, one of which is that new software just isn't continually pushing the performance limits of the hardware as much as it once did, which means that business PCs are capable of doing their job for longer. Reliability has also arguably increased over time.
Another factor has been Windows. A new version was often the catalyst for a new round of PC purchases, but Windows 8 rather stifled buyer enthusiasm and Microsoft has allowed existing users to upgrade their system for free with Windows 10.
But above and beyond that, PCs just seem to have become, well, rather much of a muchness these days. There is little in the way of innovation or differentiation between the various available models, and buyers see few reasons to invest in a new model until their current one becomes defunct.
With this in mind, perhaps the PC could be saved from its seemingly inevitable decline by new designs or form factors.
Certainly, Intel and Microsoft have pushed for more imaginative and inspiring designs in PC systems, but it often appears that hardware vendors lack the ambition or the ability to come up with anything really innovative. Microsoft, for example, had to resort to building its own devices, the Surface family, to showcase what a Windows tablet could be capable of.
Compare the situation now with a decade ago, when a flurry of experimentation led to form factors such as the netbook and the ultra-mobile PC. I recall testing one of the more successful ultra-mobiles, the OQO (pictured), and marvelling that I had a system running Windows XP that was small enough to slip into a jacket pocket.
Of course, the netbook and ultra-mobile concepts soon ran out of steam, partly because tablets arrived to displace them but partly because their small size meant that battery life was too short for a full day's work while on the road, for example.
With today's better battery life and more power-frugal processors, is there room again for innovative formats that blend PC and mobile, perhaps a hybrid PC and smartphone?
Or has the PC industry run out of the will - or the ability - to energise buyers with products that break new ground?
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