Major PC manufacturers experienced overall negative growth between 2012 and 2013, Digital Trends reports. Today, tablets and smartphones easily outmatch low-end netbooks and laptops in specs, boasting dual-core processors and embedded NVIDIA graphics. The devices can edit content using Google Docs, stream multimedia, and easily interface with social media. Laptops and desktops, in particular, are gradually becoming technologies for professionals with specialized needs.
Explaining the shift
The shift towards tablets or smartphones acting as one’s primary device can be explained on both a cultural and technological level. As tablets and smartphones become more capable of handling everyday tasks while providing interfaces that are more intuitive than desktop operating systems—all at price points cheaper than most laptops—many are opting for portable devices over traditional devices. According to a study conducted by Zipcar and reported by The Huffington Post, thirty percent of millennials would rather give up their car than their smartphone. Millennials—teenagers in particular—are using mobile devices as their sole method of Internet access, and are driving the market towards mobile device production.
The shift towards tablets or smartphones has prompted a lot of large social media platforms and content providers to rethink their strategies. Netflix, VUDU, and Amazon work with mobile phone and tablet designers to ensure consumer hardware can scale to HD multimedia content. Additionally, Netflix and other companies had to rethink multimedia content delivery for the 4G mobile network. Netflix, for example, makes extensive use of content delivery networks to cache video and multimedia data at different points of presence throughout the world so that mobile streaming performance can resemble, and sometimes even outpace, standard broadband performance.
The mobile future
As millennials continue to drive innovation in mobile technology through their purchasing decisions, it seems reasonable to expect tablets and smartphones to replace the PC market entirely someday. While laptops and desktops will still be available for specialized professional applications like rendering, development, or statistical computations, tablets and smartphones are certainly poised to dominate the user-facing market.
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