Post-PC? Don't believe it…
According to Neil Bramley, B2B PC business unit director of Northern Europe at Toshiba, while recent figures might suggest PC sales are in (he would argue marginal) decline, he doesn't believe businesses are entering a post-PC era.
"The traditional PC market is simply evolving, with businesses diversifying their IT offering to account for varied employee needs and technological developments – whether this is the introduction of new form factors such as hybrids or the emergence of factors like the cloud," Bramley says.
He adds that mobility is obviously one of the driving forces behind this evolution, with Gartner predicting that the ultra-mobile premium device market will be the catalyst for growth in this market over the next few years.
Bramley notes: "But this is also being compounded by Generation Z entering the workplace, bringing even more devices into the office which they expect to use for accessing company data seamlessly and consistently, wherever they are."
It is this combination of factors that is pushing businesses to store greater levels of intelligence in the cloud, because this allows IT managers to offer more flexible and secure access to data.
"As a result, the role hardware plays for staff accessing business intelligence is shifting, with PCs now acting as the gateway to this information rather than the traditional hub many have been accustomed to," says Bramley.
Going up in the world
The PC is moving towards the higher-end of the market, and it's in this area that Grasby says there is room for innovation. "In particular in the specialty or custom PC space amongst high-end, power hungry users who demand more from their machines."
He adds that overall, PCs and high-end small form devices remain an essential piece of technology for both consumers and businesses. "I think one thing that is really exciting is the potential for VR to drive innovation across the entire PC ecosystem."
"The buzz around VR is refocusing the software industry's attention and some of its brightest minds back on the PC platform," says Graspy.
"As this trend continues, I think you are going to see increasingly more innovation within the PC space as software developers tap into VR as the most significant change in how we interact with technology since the introduction of the mouse and graphical user interface. And most importantly, high-performance PCs will remain the only device possible of truly pushing the limits of the experience for years to come."
No uptick in sight
After years of decline, there is very little evidence to support any notion of a rebound in the market. Indeed most PC companies and chip makers now talk about a 5-8 year upgrade cycle, rather than a 2-3 year one.
There is a growing feeling within organisations and among consumers that their present PC is good enough for the job in hand. There is no longer a strong pull towards getting the latest and greatest anymore, as the improvement no longer appears that large.
The only way for PCs to maintain any relevance is to admit they have a niche in content creation – they have ceded the content consumption function to tablets and smartphones. To argue otherwise would be deluded.