Pity the poor PC: First the iPad, now iCloud

Tablet sales are up, PC sales are down, and here comes iCloud. What's poor Michael Dell to do?

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Speaking of Dell, there was some comfort for his company in the Gartner report. The research outfit sees some recovery in the sales of business PCs, an area where Dell is strong. "Businesses sharply reduced replacements and extended PC lifetimes in response to the recession," says Raphael Vasquez, a research analyst at Gartner. "Businesses have begun replacing aging PCs more vigorously. We expect the growing urgency for businesses to migrate away from Windows XP will drive significant professional replacements."

Isn't that a heck of a note, though? Businesses are replacing Windows XP, an OS that debuted 10 (!) years ago as of Oct. 25.

Then there's iCloud
Apple's share of the computer market is still relatively tiny, even though it keeps growing faster than the PC market as a whole, so the number of people actually using Apple's forthcoming iCloud sync-and-storage service to full advantage won't be enormous. But iCloud, which allows users to sync content transparently across multiple devices, is right, well, in sync with how people now view computing.

PCs are transitioning from a one-size-fits-all computing platform to a more specialized device, prized for their ability to complement other devices, says Gartner's Atwal: "Moving forward, PCs will no longer be a market by themselves, but part of a larger device market that ranges from smart televisions to the most basic feature phones. Within this market, consumers and professionals will increasingly use the combination of devices that best suits their particular needs."

We all have digital photos, music, and documents on our PCs, smartphones, and tablets, and keeping that content organized and accessible is really difficult. The PC has been the central repository of our "stuff," but that becomes less and less attractive as digital content multiplies and users want to take it with them. The answer to that problem is not a six- or seven-pound laptop, even if it does have a cool Windows 8 touch interface. That's not a rocket-science insight, but the PC industry doesn't seem to get it.

Then there's developer energy. Every time you turn around, there's another burst of creativity on the mobile front. Sure, lots of the apps you'll find in the iOS App Store or in the Android Market are pure junk. But compare the excitement over Angry Birds to the latest release of Office. That's momentum.

As I've said over and over, Microsoft isn't going away -- it is still a money machine. Dell and a few PC makers will hang on as well. But all those companies are on the wrong side of history, and that's not a good place to be.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill.snyder@sbcglobal.net. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "Pity the poor PC: First the iPad, now iCloud," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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