Yesterday I wrote at Incognitosis (in Spanish) about the latest data that Canalys published about the PC segment. The numbers are crude but real: sales are down for all hardware makers, and even Apple is feeling the pressure.
Analysts from that firm suggested -not really a new argument- that the smartphone is guilty for that reality, but there is at least one more reason:
Your PC (or laptop) is good enough.
I made two polls that would be useful to confirm that idea, but the results were not so definitive as I would have thought. The first question, “How many years have you been using the same PC or laptop?” was pretty conclusive: 7 out of 10 users have a machine that is at least 3 years old.
The second question was more interesting: “Are you thinking of buying a new PC or laptop?“. The answers were pretty different from what I would have assumed:
As you may see there (although the poll is in Spanish) there are many people here who is thinking in buying a new desktop PC (around 40%) or a new laptop/convertible (46%) in the next three years. I think my audience is really tech related -the same happens here- so the poll isn’t that definitive in either case, but I would have thought of much more reduced percentages there.
After analysing the results, there’s an obvious fact: we updated our old PCs because we had to. If we didn’t, we were just missing the future. We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those exciting features Windows and its apps and games were giving us. We always want more, but in that case we also needed more in order to avoid falling behind.
That’s not the case anymore. The market is mature and most people feels no need to upgrade or buy a new PC. Their machines are good enough, and Microsoft has made a big mistake with Windows 10, an OS that runs even better than Windows 8 or Windows 7 in old hardware. What happened with minimum requirements? Suddenly the equation didn’t work for us. And that’s a tragedy for Microsoft, Intel, AMD and all the rest of companies that once were successful thanks to that feeling of being compelled to buy a new PC.
Paul Thurrot throws new adoption data for Windows 10, which is now active on 200 million devices around the globe. Thurrot is a little bit overoptimistic with comparisons with Windows 7:
Despite the availability of Windows 10 on new device types, the average monthly usage gain over the past quarter was 31.25 million units per month. That is dramatically better than the standard-bearer, Windows 7, which was artificially massaged to accomplished 20 million units per month.
That would be a great reference, but there’s one thing missing in Thurrot’s argument. Windows 10 is a free update.
It has been so since its launch and will be free for another six months. And saying that Windows 10 monthly usage is so huge isn’t such a big deal when you take into account that you actually had to pay for a Windows 7 license.
I’m not a big fan of Apple, but you should consider what happened with OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the first version of that operating system that was available as a free update from Mountain Lion. In five months Mavericks had a 40 percent share in the US on Mac based computers. An image is worth a thousand words:
If you put that into context and compare that first free version of OS X with this free update for Windows 10, something is clear.
Windows 10 has a 9.96 percent market share globally (data from Chikita in March 2014 was just US based, that’s true), while Windows 7 is over 55 percent. And the 200 million devices include devices like the Xbox One, not just desktop PCs and laptops. The numbers are good, but not that good.
I asked here why Windows users don’t upgrade to Windows 10 and the answer was interesting: privacy concerns was the clear reason for almost half of the respondents. Microsoft made some mistakes on this launch, and I’m affraid that concerns have not been solved to this day. Microsoft is actually forcing the update, which is not a smart thing to do for the vast majority of traditional Windows users.
I wonder what will happen after the free update period, and I really hope Windows 10 takes off both on the PC/laptop and on mobile, but the growth isn’t that great as Thurrot wants to reflect.
The Post-PC is more of a PC-Reborn era. And it is so because the PC isn’t that big box under the table anymore. Or even that laptop, Ultrabook or convertible you’ve spent some money on lately.
No. Your PC is your smartphone. And if it’s not yet, it will be that soon enough.
That’s what Canonical envisioned almost four years ago. On October 31st, 2011 Mark Shuttleworth published this on his personal blog:
By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud.
The idea was clear: your smartphone would become your PC, and the experience on that device would adapt to your needs and resources. But Canonical wasn’t able to deliver that promise. It even tried to launch Ubuntu Edge, the “convergent phone” that would provide all the necessary to get a responsive experience. That project had to be cancelled due to insufficient funding on Indiegogo, where nevertheless it was a record project.
Thankfully, Microsoft stole the idea
Microsoft took up the torch, and the company led now by Satya Nadella is finally delivering that idea. We saw the result with the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, the first phones that thanks to Continuum, the Microsoft Display Dock and that ‘One Windows’ paradigm are able to transform that experience.
You can finally use those smartphones as a smartphones or as PCs. It depends on what you need, and on what your resources are. A display, a keyboard and a mouse are enough to provide that desktop experience running from a smartphone.
Convergence is here, and it seems unstoppable.
Google agrees: this is the future
Google has been pretty clear in the past about the relevance of Android and Chrome OS. Both made sense for the company, and both covered different users. That was the official message.
There was other goals inside the company, of course. As many predicted, maintaining two code bases when one of them is clearly not getting much traction seems not a good idea. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal revealed how Google would ‘fold’ Chrome OS into Android. There has been some updates on that report, and it seems Chrome OS will continue to exist after the release of that combination of both projects.
Chrome OS, tells The Verge, is not being “killed” and Re/code explains how “Starting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android“. It seems the path to Google’s convergence will be a little slower, with two products coexisting -Android with Chrome OS features, and the traditional Chrome OS-, but the end seems clear: only Android (maybe with a different name) will survive.
Apple: merging iOS with OS X seems mandatory now
The discourse about convergence has also been unequivocal at Apple. Tim Cook recently explained how iOS and OS X had both sense for different scenarios:
We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. These operating systems do different things,” said Cook. “We have no intention to blend them.
But again, this is the official discourse. There are to many hints to dismiss a possible merger between iOS and OS X:
OS X has received minimal updates on the last two years, and in most cases there has been an ‘ios-ification of OS X‘. Continuity and Handoff were nice, but not specially ambitious.
Apple’s ARM SoCs are incredibly powerful: they even beat the new MacBook, and that could led to that promising Apple laptop based on on an ARM processor (Apple A10?) and, of course, iOS.
The new iPad Pro proves that Microsoft’s idea with their Surface is the one that can really save tablets. And it’s based in iOS. Not OS X. iOS.
The Mac division is still important, but the iPhone is what makes Apple successful. Compare 63% revenue from iPhones to 13% revenue from Macs. If you add the iPads (another iOS product), you get a whopping 71% of revenue based on that products. That’s what work.
I have no doubts about this. Apple wants your smartphone to be your PC too. I’m absolutely sure they’re working on it, so stay tuned. Google’s decision won’t be the last on this front.
Apple brings refinement and under-the-hood changes to Yosemite’s new design.
Ars Technica has been publishing the best, more detailed and more complete reviews of OS X since its first version 14 years ago. John Siracusa became a legend in this scenario, and he decided to stop reviewing it last April:
There is no single, dramatic reason behind this. It’s an accumulation of small things—the time investment, the (admittedly, self-imposed) mental anguish, the pressure to meet my own expectations and those of my readers year after year—but it all boils down to a simple, pervasive feeling that this is the time to stop. I’ve done this. It is done.
I’d say there is more than that. I’d say that Siracusa was just tired of reviewing new versions with so little to review. OS X El Capitan is a good example of that, but even realizing that reality, Ars Technica has again published a pretty long review that shouldn’t have been that long. The conclusions make this clear:
After Apple’s WWDC keynote, a friend texted me to tell me she couldn’t figure out what was supposed to be so great about El Capitan. It’s an understandable question to ask, especially after Yosemite’s big, immediately obvious changes (and an admittedly grandiose new name).
And the reason is simple. There’s not much to talk about, and Apple doesn’t deserve that kind of review when the changes to OS X have been stingy in the last few years. OS X 10.11 isn’t worthy of this.