Are PCs dead? Certainly not, as demand for upgraded systems is set to explode

IT managers -- and consumers -- will demand machines with better displays, longer battery life and the power to drive tablets to their knees

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Tablets and smartphones will be used more by people on the run -- to send and read emails in airport lounges and cafes, to watch movies on road trips and to play games while flying to a business meeting.

PCs were never out of the game. Sure, we put off buying new ones so we could spend the money on new tablets and smartphones. Now, though, it's time to replace the old PCs and fire up new, powerful machines that can help us get more work done faster.

"Substantial growth is good news for the industry, and for component makers like Intel, but how well the PC makers profit individually is still up in the air," said King. "Some have done pretty well, while others have driven unit sales by cutting prices, and profits, to the bone. But for the group, Gartner's forecast has to be a cause for relief among both PC vendors and their shareholders."

It doesn't mean, though, it's going to be business as usual for the major PC makers like Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

Consumers and enterprise buyers want a better PC. They want a PC with a longer battery life and more power. And yes, they also want a better-looking, cooler machine.

And they want it now.

"There will still be a large market for PCs," said Olds. "However, it's a mature market. We're well past the point when enterprises and individuals were buying their first or second PCs. Vendors can still make a living on PCs, but it's not going to get any easier. They'll be competing tooth and nail for sales, and need to keep their offerings fresh and costs down -- not an easy task."

"PC vendors will have to ensure that their systems can deliver the performance that users need, at a reasonable cost," said Olds. "For example, laptops need to have great high-resolution displays and enough performance to handle workloads that would take a tablet to its knees. They also have to deliver solid battery life, so that users can remain untethered for a significant amount of time. PCs don't have to hit the same price points as tablets to be competitive but they have to earn that extra dough."

Moorhead also noted that PC makers are taking some of the best attributes from tablets and smartphones and bringing them to the PC platform.

"Intel has done a lot to make that happen," he said. "They've invested billions into touch screens, miniaturization and lower-power, higher-performance chips."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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