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PC Sales Declining?

The launch of Windows 8 at the end of 2012 has made two things very clear indeed; 1. Microsoft face a huge battle to reposition themselves at the centre of the technology market, particularly in light of Apple’s dominant growth in the last 5 years; and 2. The move towards touch-screen operating systems indicates a big shift on the horizon for home computing. This is indicated more clearly still by sales figures released this week which show that worldwide PC Sales from October-December 2012 declined 6.4% from 2011.

Numerous reasons have been offered for these statistics. The release of a new Windows operating platform has historically been met with some caution (often quite understandably) and there can be a time lag before manufacturers and developers are able to persuade consumers that their new PCs are worth investing in. This may be particularly true with Windows 8; the first operating system to provide both desktop and mobile functionality is heavily dependent upon the sales successes of new, compatible devices. If you’re not familiar with Windows 8, one of the central premises is that traditional, ‘desktop’ computing and new touchscreen navigation technology can overlap. This has been accompanied by a variety of new hybrid devices, including laptop and desktop machines with removable touchscreens.

Both Apple and Microsoft are predicting that 2013 will be the year in which post-PC computing becomes more of a reality. However, this doesn’t take into account the “workstation segment” (PCs used in the workplace). More pertinently, it overlooks the fact that despite the figures quoted above, leading brands such as Samsung, HP and Lenovo outperformed the rest of the market, with the launch of Windows 8 being attributed to relatively strong sales figures. If these brands are able to capitalise on Windows 8’s impressive specification and capabilities, there is no reason to suppose that PCs are going to be disappearing any time soon.

We’re particularly interested in the dynamic between traditional desktop browsing and touch-screen mobile/tablet functionality that Windows 8 embraces. It reflects the tendency that many of us have to want both the functionality and power of a desktop experience and the flexibility and portability that mobile and tablets bring.

This has implications for us as web designers, with responsive web design and mobile-first website design very much on our radar in 2013. We’re very much aware that our clients expectations are constantly evolving; it’s our responsibility to continue integrating new technology, functionality and compatibility into our web design solutions.