The age of PC computers is over. That’s certainly not to say no one will ever buy a PC again, but with the emergence and rapid success of smartphones and tablets, the volume of PC purchases has been declining steadily. With more ways to search the web than ever being developed, it seems unlikely that a huge comeback for the PC is right around the corner.
The proof that PCs are losing ground is in the numbers. According to a Forbes article entitled 2013 Represented Worst Decline In PC Market’s History (a promising title to my point), sales of PC computers have fallen for seven straight quarters. In addition, according to a study by Gartner in the same article, 2013 marked a 10% decline in PC sales, which represents “the worst (decline) in history for the worldwide personal computer market.” Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, says in an article on Marketing Land that “mobile has won.” He goes on to express his estimation that smartphone penetration will reach 75% of the US market by the end of 2014. While there could be some room for PC sales to grow internationally in developing countries, it seems that the first world market has been tapped as consumers continue to latch on to new technologies to satisfy their web searching needs.
While tablets and smartphones have already begun to take their toll on PC sales, there is evidence to suggest that the web searching market space could really explode in the coming years. I wrote an article last month that goes into detail about the potential of some of these emerging technologies, but at a glance consumers are already using Google Glass and the Samsung smart watch. While they aren’t currently widespread, they are early innovations in an emerging market of wearable web search technology. In fact, according to a study from Market and Markets it is estimated that by 2018, the wearable tech market will be worth $8.36 billion. At least PCs had a good run – these new technologies have the potential to cut into smartphone and tablet sales before they escape adolescence. Whether these technologies will be developed and widespread in the next 5 years or the next 25 years is unclear. What is clear is that sooner or later they are coming, and pose a serious threat to the already hurting PC market.
So the question becomes: what does the death of personal computers mean for marketers? I certainly am not saying to abandon marketing efforts targeted to PC users, as it is still extremely important for any online marketer to effectively reach people via their PC. However, it makes it that much more important to focus on marketing efforts to mobile and tablet users. From an SEO perspective, having a unique mobile site or using responsive design so your site will adjust to a user’s device is extremely important. This will help ensure your customers can efficiently view your site’s content without getting frustrated. Keeping in mind how someone with a smaller screen may view your site is very important, and will only get more important as the mobile and tablet markets continue to grow nationally and abroad. For PPC, ads can be specifically created to reach only a mobile audience. In addition, percentage bid adjustments can be made to spend more or less on mobile audiences. Experimenting with these options to find the best mix of spend by device is important, and will only get more important as people start using new and different devices.
One line from the aforementioned Marketing Land article summed up the sentiment of this article perfectly: “What the rise of smartphones, tablets and, ultimately, wearables means is that an era of diversified internet access and computing has truly begun.” With exciting new ways to search the web being developed rapidly, it is logical to assume that the way we search the web even a decade from now could be dramatically different than how we search today. PC’s monopoly on web searches has come to an end. The death of the PC may be long and drawn out, but its best years are likely already behind it.
What do you think? Comment below or tweet me @El_Mattador101.