Smartphones conquer the PC: The king is dead, long live the king

Published: February 14, 2011
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IDC releases data about the new kid on the block overtaking PCs. DESIGN: ASAD SALEEM

IDC releases data about the new kid on the block overtaking PCs. DESIGN: ASAD SALEEM

KARACHI: For all those wondering about what would replace the laptop, we have the answer and, surprise surprise, it’s neither netbooks nor tablets. The new mobile computing medium is the smartphone; it came and saw and it conquered the computer. Talk about David and Goliath.

These little bundles of joy are now almost as powerful as our netbooks and have the exact same hardware as our tablets; albeit with smaller screens. You could do almost anything that you could ever want to do on a normal computer.

This year, for the first time ever, smartphone sales overtook sales of computers. And we are not talking about just laptops. The sales of smartphones were more than the collective sales of desktop computers, laptops and netbooks put together. That is a ridiculous number of smartphones sold.

And this, in no way means that PC sales were declining because on the contrary, PC sales have been increasing steadily. Desktop sales have more or less remained stable since 2005 but laptop sales have been growing steadily. However, the growth of smartphone sales was such that that the PC was overtaken, for the first time.

It was probably inevitable, smartphone sales overtook PC ones, shipping 100.9 million units to stores worldwide in the final quarter of 2010, compared with only 92.1 million units in the same time frame. At least that’s what the study released by International Data Corporation (IDC) last week states.

Recently, at the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow, CES 2011, Motorola took smartphones to their logical conclusion. Their new phone, the Atrix 4g is the heart and brain of a laptop now in a sense. It slots into a laptop shaped husk, with only a screen, keyboard and a small extra battery. And it turns it into a powerful laptop that can go toe to toe with the netbooks of today and possibly even beat them.

Soon, your smartphone will be your laptop. It will just need to be plugged into a screen and a keyboard so that you can have all of your smartphones data and applications in full desktop mode, with a larger screen and a proper keyboard. The processing power and internet connectivity will be provided by the phone and the only things the dock will provide are the keyboard and the monitor.

However, one has to consider that smartphones are sold at incredibly subsidised packages by the telecom industry. They only make you pay a fraction of the phone’s real price up front and make you pay the rest of it in small affordable monthly installments along with the data plan, at least internationally. This makes smartphones much cheaper for computing purposes, and that could be one of the reasons for their proliferation.

“IDC expects vendors to provide more mid-range and low-end smartphones at lower prices to reach the mass market. In the same manner, even high-end devices will become available at lower prices. This will result in greater competition and more choice for users,” said an IDC release.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • SMI
    Feb 14, 2011 - 12:05PM

    But can it run Crysis?Recommend

  • Safwan
    Feb 14, 2011 - 1:39PM

    “…smartphones are sold at incredibly subsidised packages by the telecom industry.”

    Not in Pakistan! It is a practice in many developed countries, but we still don’t have this ‘luxury’, so this statement is not relevant to us.Recommend

  • Mirza Abeer
    Feb 14, 2011 - 2:02PM

    @SMI:
    You made my day.Recommend

  • Feb 15, 2011 - 1:20AM

    “These little bundles of joy are now almost as powerful as our notebooks and have the exact same hardware as our tablets; albeit with smaller screens”*

    Here lies the answer to your unsound prophecy of smartphones taking over the 17″ laptops or 29″screen desktops.No monitor screens or laptop screens give the enjoy of watching a movie like a cinemascope or 70MM screen of cinema houses. Had it been so all the cinemas in the world would have by this time, closed for ever. Would you like to see your kids birthday movie in a tiny smartphone screen than a 19″ monitor with the same sound effects and all. Donot try to be so much optimistic. Remember, pain killers are in more demand than the real cure. Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    Feb 15, 2011 - 10:07AM

    Smartphones are indeed very useful for people who mostly use their computers for checking emails and facebook. But for writing reports, letters, watching your fav movie, a laptop or PC can not be replaced. Smartphones are popular because they keep you connected on the go. People will get fed up of them soon.Recommend

  • QWERTY
    Feb 15, 2011 - 2:41PM

    @Safwan:
    no its not a luxury, it’s a trap. you end up paying more & tied to the same operator for atleast two years no matter how the service is. It also creates a monopoly, look at Nokia. No_ carrier deals, no penetration in the US.
    .
    And who will buy a Nexus S for 20,000 down payment & Rs. 3000 a month afterwards for 2 years??
    3000 = 2000 phone charges + 1000 for the postpaid services.Recommend

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