Are PCs going extinct? One study says yes

Thanks to the rise of new technologies such as smartphones and tablets, the PC may soon no longer be the primary device for accessing the web.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012 by YuMe

In the early days of the internet, the personal computer was the sole device for going online. However, thanks to the rise of new technologies such as smartphones and tablets, the PC may soon no longer be the primary device for accessing the web.

According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Center for the Digital Future and market research firm Bovitz, 25 percent of all PC owners said they will likely not replace their PC with another desktop or laptop when their current machine becomes unusable.

Although the percentage is not a majority as of yet, the report's authors said that the findings could represent a major shift in how consumers go online. As smartphones and tablets become more powerful, the previous advantages of owning a PC versus a mobile device begin to dissipate.

"We are seeing a major change in how a large percentage of Americans view their computing needs," Jeffrey Cole , director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said in a statement. "In only a few years, the explosive growth of tablet adoption has created significant shifts in how, when, and why Americans go online. Clearly, more computer users are ready to make the switch to a PC-less lifestyle by moving to tablets and other devices."

Explaining the shift
When asked why tablets were seen as more appealing than PCs, 54 percent of the survey's respondents said mobility was the primary factor. Additionally, 38 percent said that tablets can do everything they need from an internet-enabled device, and 34 percent indicated that tablets were easier to use than desktops or laptops.

"The tablet is an inviting gadget," Cole said. "The desktop PC is a 'lean forward' device – a tool that sits on a desk and forces users to come to it. The tablet has a 'lean-back' allure – more convenient and accessible than laptops and much more engaging to use. For the vast majority of Americans, the tablet will be the computer of choice by the middle of the decade, while the desktop PC and even laptops fade away."

However, the study found that the PC will continue to be heavily used by consumers for at least the next few years. Among those polled, 66 percent thought PCs were more comfortable to use than mobile devices. In addition, 58 percent said they preferred the larger screen size of a laptop or desktop, and 56 percent indicated that having a keyboard and mouse was beneficial for completing more complex computing tasks.