Getting Off the Upgrade Treadmill

Is the PC business suffocating because Android and iOS are sucking all the air out of the room? Could be:

Sameer Singh over at Tech-Thoughts has gone over some recently released Gartner data and has found that consumers are replacing their PCs much less frequently than they used to, and are instead opting for cheaper, more mobile options such as tablets and smartphones.

Singh also says that consumers are using their PCs less than they used to for critical functions that can also be accomplished by tablets and smartphones. Thus, users don’t feel the need to upgrade their PCs as frequently as they used to since so much innovation has shifted over to the mobile space.

“Over the last couple of years, it has become more and more apparent that PCs are seen as appliances, in that owning a PC is a necessity, but upgrading one is not,” he writes. “This has been driven by a shift in development activity from the traditional PC platform to mobile devices and the web/mobile web. When was the last time one of us had to upgrade a PC in order to run a new application?”


That last thing is the key right there. I used to upgrade PCs every 30 months, just to play the latest games at the highest resolutions, but those days are long over. Even Windows was hungry enough to need a faster processor every few years.

But we reached “good enough” somewhere around the two gigahertz barrier.

Casual gaming has moved to mobile devices. Tablets are taking casual users away from traditional laptops and desktops. And there simply aren’t enough hardcore gamers to drive PC growth.

Come to think of it, my phone and tablet are both on two-year upgrade cycles — even quicker turnarounds than when I felt like I had to stay on the bleeding edge of PC tech. But that doesn’t mean history won’t repeat itself.

I barely use my iPhone, just because I don’t much like phones. And the camera on it is so good, I can’t imagine needing a newer, better model just one year from now. It’s a similar situation with my iPad. It has a Retina screen, LTE, and a wicked-fast processor. To get me to really need to upgrade in 2014, Apple would have to come out with an attachment — one that will fit only on the 2014 iPad — that would iRon my shirts for me.


Sometimes there’s nothing worse than a happy customer.


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