PC Put out to Pasture as Plucky Portable Platforms Prevail

PC ownership will take a backseat to cellphones and tablets in 2014, say researchers at IDC Canada.

The firm is the latest analyst to read the technology Tarot cards and posit its predictions. In this case, IDC Canada has metaphorically drawn the Kipper thievery card, which signifies loss or reduction, for the PC market.

Mobile platforms have drawn the Sun card, an indicator of success and positive energy. The Calgary Herald quotes group vice president Tony Olvet as saying “we are right now at the cusp of the great inflection point when tablets and smartphones together outnumber the install base of PCs.”

While IDC Canada’s fortune telling may well come true, it’s a little misleading. Just as it’s likely for a family to own more bicycles than cars, it’s also more likely for people to own more portable devices than PCs (just as they own more pockets than desks to house these respective devices). Olvet acknowledges this, saying “We see multiple devices rather than one single device becoming the norm in business and also at home.”

As for the PCs people are buying, the group predicts more mobile-like features will creep into them. “We expect to see a big spike in touch-enabled PCs, from just 3.7 percent of PCs shipped in the first quarter of this year growing to about 24 percent by the end of 2014—that’s a huge increase,” Olvet said.

The firm predicts a continued rise in Android phone use in the workplace; 31 percent of the companies they surveyed said they currently support Android phones, which is nearly a 50 percent jump from last year. IDC Canada sees Android phone adoption in the workplace increasing another 30 percent through 2014.

To round out their readings of the market, the group metaphorically drew the Five of Pentacles, signifying loss or poverty, for a handful of other marketplace trends. These include mobile payments, by which customers can pay for goods using their mobile phones (such as Timbits and sundry other delicacies from Tim Hortons, as the restaurant chain recently announced). Only 20 percent of those surveyed were interested in mobile payments. Granted, the survey was completed before Tim Hortons had made their announcement.

Respondents were also disinterested in wearable technology, a category which includes smart watches like the Pebble, and augmented reality tools like Google Glass. IDC Canada predicts that even if Apple launches a smart watch in the coming year, less than two percent of Canadians will purchase one.

Olvet and his team predict that smart watch ownership will grow to over 15 percent by 2017, long after anyone remembers this year’s predictions anyway.