Part of the reason there was so much scoffing about the iPad when it was first revealed was the fact that PC manufacturers were scared stiff that a tablet would crush them. And not unreasonably so. Your average American uses the computer not for intense word processing or heavy technical tasks, but rather for Web-surfing, messing with photos, and watching TV, all tasks that tablets are not only very good at but better at and easier to use than a laptop.
As for desktops, well, consider that before the iPad, the biggest craze in computing was the netbook. I owned one of those cramped bastards and in fact wrote a lot of my early stuff for this site on one. The tablet pretty handily put the netbook to shame and now, PC manufacturers are facing a shrinking pie.
Basically, the quarter three numbers indicate that PC sales are off by a tenth of what they were this time last year:
Gartner blamed a lackluster back-to-school season and a weak consumer PC market for much of the decline, which also affected Dell (down 1.4 million units year-over-year) and Acer (down 1 million units year-over-year) among others. The fallout from HP’s corporate troubles is clearly visible: its third-quarter shipments are down nearly three million units compared to the third quarter of 2011, and while most PC makers are doing worse this year than last, none of them suffered such a precipitous drop in sales.
Really, the only people not walking into their earnings call as if it were a death march will be the folks at ASUS and Lenovo, who actually saw year to year growth. On the other hand, beating somebody who is already getting beaten by a midget clinging to their back, pounding at their kidneys, and rapidly growing into a monster is not really a victory.
For contrast, tablets are expected to move about 130 million units this year alone. Many think students opted for tablets instead of computers for the back-to-school rush. So around midterms, they’ll see an uptick in keyboard sales, at least.