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Mobile Devices Sell Faster and Die Sooner

29 March 2012
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There has been a lot of hype and real data about mobile devices(smart phones and tablets) outselling PCs of late. Like everyone else, I was impressed. Then I saw another quote on the topic from Box’s Aaron Levie,

Some simple math: Majority of new devices are ‘post-pc’. Vast majority of enterprise software isn’t. What do you think happens next?

I was sitting in my home office reading this when I realized something…

Mobile devices aren’t winning. Not yet at least.

Oh, they are pervasive and everywhere. They are even reducing the usage of PCs. There is no arguing their impact when you go to any conference today or hang out on public transportation.

Quick Survey

As I sit here at home, I’m using my 4+ year-old-desktop to rip a new CD and play some music. I’m using my laptop to work and write this post. My smart phone is sitting here not being very smart because I just need the mobile phone to be active. My iPad is in my bag and my Galaxy Tab is by my bed. My wife’s smart phone is God only knows where. My kids are currently deprived.

Two PCs (one work issued) and 4 mobile devices. When not being used for phone calls, the PCs get the most use. The wife checks email on her cell phone but she prefers to respond on the home computer.

When I walk around the office, I see people using computers of various ages. Some are new but the average age is well over two years. When I was at my previous company, computers were kept for three years and then replaced, if anyone was keeping track.

Meanwhile, I know people that have bought three iPads, one a year. Phones tend to last two years, but people jump at the chance to upgrade when they can.

A Mobile World with a Strong PC Foundation

I see a world where the average professional will have a PC, a tablet, and a smart phone, each with different purposes. Sure, some executives can survive without a PC, but if they want to create more than basic content, they’ll have a PC somewhere, even if it stays parked in the office.

That is a 2:1 ratio. When you consider that the average PC will be used almost twice as long as the average mobile device, that moves it up to a 4:1 ratio.

Let’s be conservative at 3:1. This is generous because while people say that many computers die early, how many mobile devices get dropped or wet?

You want to make a case for us being in the post-PC world? When you remove PCs out of 50% of the households that have two or more mobile devices, then maybe we’ll be there. If more than 50% global workforce of Information Professionals don’t own or use a PC for work, then we’ll be there.

Until then, we are in the transition between the two. The PC is still the power lifter of office productivity. Mobile insures that productivity doesn’t stop when people leave their desk.

Not telling anyone to ignore Mobile, just that they ignore the PC at their own peril.

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