Windows PC Sales Continue to Decline, What Does That Mean?

According to Apple, we are in the post-PC world. According to Microsoft, we are in the PC+ world. Now matter how you spin it, PC sales are continuing to decline.

A few weeks back, NPD Group reported that PC sales in the first few weeks since the launch of Windows 8 were down 21% from the same period a year ago. Now NPD is back with updated information dealing directly with the 5-week holiday sales period from November 18th to December 22nd.

According to NPD, “Windows notebook holiday unit sales dropped 11 percent, on par with Black Friday, and similar to the yearly trend, but revenue trends weakened since Black Friday to end the holiday period down 10.5 percent.”

Other information indicated that about 4.5 percent of the sales of Windows 8 PCs were touch-based notebooks. So holiday sales are down from last year, overall sales are down from last year– what does this all mean?

Is the PC dead, or not? I’d say the answer isn’t as obvious or simple as that. Really, it depends on Windows 8 now more than ever. Windows 8 has the opportunity to do one of two things to the PC market:

Drive everyone away.

Windows 8 is different and has a sharp learning curve. It has received plenty of early criticism, but Windows is pretty much the only choice for desktop/laptop computers unless you have extra cash to spend on a Mac or are willing to learn Linux.

Most consumers won’t convert to Mac because they are looking for the cheapest routes possible. These same consumers want an easy to use experience, and probably won’t move to Ubuntu if things head south.

That means that if Windows 8 doesn’t eventually catch on, Microsoft could help drive non-business folks to the Android/iOS tablet world even faster.

Give PCs a new lease on life.

The disaster scenario where Windows kills the PC for all but the most hardcore or business-type users is a possibility, but so is the idea of PCs getting a renewed marketshare thanks to touchscreen PCs.

If Microsoft can convince people that Windows 8 is worth the learning curve, many consumers might eventually like the idea of all-in-one Touch Desktops that they can use for family PCs but also for family gaming devices for two-player sessions of games like “Fruit Ninja” and much more.

How do they get to scenario two?

Scenario one sees the realization of the idea that we are in the post-PC world, but the second scenario is about how PCs are evolving in a touch-centric and mobile-centric world. Talking about it is pretty easy. Getting there is much more difficult.

Microsoft needs to continue to push aggressive marketing and just ride the waves of criticism. It’s hard to remember so long ago, but many consumers had similar complaints when Windows 3.1 switched to the start menu in the first place.

The biggest difference here is that times have changed. There were no real alternatives to PCs and Windows back in the mid-90s. Now there is.

I am confident that Microsoft can realize the vision of a PC+ world were touch-centric PCs are a mainstay in the 21st century family’s house, but it isn’t going to be easy.

What do you think, is the tablet going to take over the PC or are we going to see a resurgence once people adapt to changes like touch PCs and the presence of leap motion-like technology?

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