back to article Report: Tablets to outsell ALL PCs by 2016

It was claimed by one market watcher this week that tablets will outsell notebook computers during 2013. By 2016, says another, slates’ share of the PC market will have surpassed all other devices combined. The research firm in question is Canalys, and it reckons Wintel’s share of the PC market will drop from 72 per cent in …


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  1. Tom 35


    "Windows 8 is a tablet operating system with an older desktop OS built in for backwards compatibility"

    I have a Surface. It's a desktop OS with a phone UI tacked onto the top. Just hit windows-x to see all your old friends from past versions of windows, and it your going to do more then play angry birds your going to need some of them. To get mine to print to my home network I had to edit the HOSTS file for example. Using notepad, and you really don't want to do that with the touch screen.

  2. tmTM

    Sure they will

    Unicorn racing will become common also.

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Go Yoga!

    Ergonomics. The area in which the desktop PC still excels, even though most people don't require a tower-sized enclosure any more- especially if they have a NAS stashed in the broom cupboard. A good number of people are happy to trade desktop ergonomics for portability and convenience, in the form of a traditional laptop, and of those most don't bother with a separate monitor and keyboard when at their desk.

    The Yoga form-factor, when in 'tent-mode' looks ideal, since it can be placed on a pile of books to get the screen at the right height, and a separate keyboard be used. This is a trickier to do with a conventional laptop.

    One thing to watch is 'Kinect-like' devices... maybe. Either in place of touchscreens, or as a wider move towards some form of 'ubiquitous computing' - "PC- turn the heating down", "PC - where's my phone?", "PC - give me the dimensions of this thing I'm holding up [I want to make a box for it]"

    Current OS GUIs seem a bit backward... I'd always assumed that the good thing about Linux was that people could bend it to their will, but all the current discussion about GUIs suggests otherwise (though at least competition between GUIs could be a good thing). There used to packages that allowed teenagers to make their video games without doing too much programming... I wonder if an application that let users develop their own UIs is workable? Even if their efforts are incomplete, it would get developers thinking. Surely we are past the point where OS GUIs are (unsuccessfully) geared towards someone who had never used a computer before?

    [Sorry, that was all a tad unfocused. Thank you for your patience]

  4. The Godfather


    I'm confused by it all...

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    1. Darryl

      Re: Everyone likes computers until they only come with Windows

      You forgot an earlier example: Desktop computers. But that one blows your theory out of the water

      1. JEDIDIAH

        Re: Everyone likes computers until they only come with Windows

        Microsoft dominance of desktop computers is why tablets seem so appealing to the common man.

        Apple gave up declaring that their PC fixes the problems of the WinDOS PC once they discovered that they got much more traction by taking the same approach with tablets. They no longer had to fight 30 years of mindless Lemming troll FUD.

        Tablets seem new enough that people can get past their old computing fears.

        Meanwhile 5 year old PCs continue to chug along and run circles around ARM devices when it's time to actually compute something or do work.

        1. Mark .

          Re: Everyone likes computers until they only come with Windows

          "Microsoft dominance of desktop computers is why tablets seem so appealing to the common man."

          This makes no sense - if the common man thought that, they'd be all buying Apple, Linux or Chrome laptops.

          "They no longer had to fight 30 years of mindless Lemming troll FUD."

          As opposed to all the pro-Apple reality distortion field from fans and the media... Really, Apple have never had to fight anything, they get tonnes of free advertising and support, even before they announce a product - as opposed to other platforms like Android or Linux which are ignored, and Windows which gets moaned about.

          And I disagree with the idea that tablets/phones are easier - the people buying these are more likely to be geeks or computer savvy people, who also still have laptops and other gadgets, not computer ignorant people. Touchscreen UIs have just as much problems to people without experience, as a mouse/pointer UI like Windows, Linux or OS X. Tablets/phones have to be rebooted for updates, have security issues, take ages to boot (my Clevo boots faster than my Galaxy Nexus), all the problems people joke about with PCs...

      2. Jess

        You forgot an earlier example: Desktop computers. But that one blows your theory out of the wate

        Er, how?

        Selling doesn't equal liking.

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    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Everyone likes computers until they only come with Windows

      Hiya Eadon

      >Look at Notebooks - wildly popular with Linux, even a dodgy distro of Linux!

      I'm assuming you meant 'netbooks' (or, in Regspeak, SCCs) like the Asus EEE PC? I think the OEM's decision to ship them with a customised Linux distribution was largely based on

      a, the OS having a smaller footprint than Windows XP, so better suited to a cheap 4GB SSD

      b, the OS not upsetting said SSD with virtual RAM (this was before 'wear-levelling' etc),

      c, putting the device out at far lower price than traditional laptops (7" screen, no spinning disk) meant that a Windows licence would be a disproportionate chunk of the selling price and

      d, a gamble that the primary application that the user would make use of would be a familiar internet browser, such as Firefox

      I seem to recall that the control panel on the EEE PC OS was simplified, and tried to insulate newcomers to fact that they were using Linux... though its been a while and I might be wrong.

      As for phones... well, most phone users ("the man on the street") had been through a fair few proprietry phone OSs before Android came along (whatever came on a Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Samsung feature-phone, for example), though some may have been Symbian or Palm fans. Windows on a phone didn't work because it tried to trade on the user's familiarity with Desktop Windows, and poking at tiny menus with a plastic shard was never a great experience. And Wince- seriously?


    3. Mark .

      Re: Everyone likes computers until they only come with Windows

      In what fantasy world did Linux notebooks become widly popular, and then the market died with Windows?

      (Possibly you mean netbooks. They died because a netbook simply means a machine with 2007 specs of 1GB RAM, 1024x600 screen. It died just like phones with 2007 specs died. However Atom-based machines still seem to live on, as well as ultra-portables in general, just that no one's calling them netbooks from now on. Also I'd like to see evidence for your claim about Linux vs Windows netbooks - the decline in sales happened later than the availability of Windows netbooks as far as I remember.)

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I'm still waiting for the paperless office.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fire, and lots of it. Job done. Next!

  7. Grave

    tablets, as they are now, are a dead end

    what might save tablets from dodoway is this (you heard it here first :)):

    instead of pretending to be a full featured computer they will become an i/o accessory (just like mouse/keyboard/display).

    it can still run as an underpowered standalone device but can be paired with full pc as necessary (probably wireless connection)

    using "dock station" etc is also a dead end, why do you need useless lump of dead hw when you can have it the other way (tablet being slave to full master pc and not tablet being master to otherwise dead slave dockstation)

    i (and a lot of other ppl) wouldn't mind having portable screen with touchability which is connected as an i/o device to my powerful pc at home (like reading a book on it while in bed or taking a bath etc, or on a subway while its connected to master pc using wifi)

    why dead end?

    -communication ? mobiles, which are no longer phones but portable computers with a/v capabilities

    -portable computer? huds/vglasses are on the horizon, paired with hand motion sensors and wifi will kill tablets (i've seen some amazing hud tech, like the guys i think in netherlands made, small one pixel projector built in/clipped onto glasses projecting image directly onto your retinas, now thats some pretty cool tech)

    1. bag o' spanners

      Re: tablets, as they are now, are a dead end

      I kinda like vasto monitors and i7 tower cases full of hotswap drives. Powah!!!

      My netbook plays decent quality films from a dropdown tray on a bus, train or plane, and my laptop can suck up RAW photos via a CF adaptor in the Expresscard port when I'm on location.. I can network all my machines quite simply with a gigabit switcher, and play obsolete games on obsolete boxes with obsolete OSs at the click of a wireless mouse.. Much as I love to embrace new tech, I'm loathe to spunk hundreds of my hard-won beer tokens on a shiny gadget, when it's underpowered, under-resourced, and seriously fragile.

      The comment above about tacking a slab onto a decent workhorse as a lightweight touch terminal is where I see the market heading. Much as the suits love to pose with their slabs, and pretend that their BYOD fever is the future of business ain't. Your face (and probably your fingers) will melt if you try to play with the front end of a SQL db on a slab.

      I wouldn't even try to edit RAW or Tiff photos on a 10" screen, and the thought of attempting to run decent AV software on one of the little blighters is giving me a conniption.

      As an entertainment device, a slab is fine, but if you want to create the content for its shiny new world, it'll be a lot easier and more productive to use a box with enough processing power and resources to render it this side of doomsday.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: tablets, as they are now, are a dead end

        >I kinda like vasto monitors and i7 tower cases full of hotswap drives. Powah!!!

        Sounds nice. I'd rather have just a couple of SSDs in my tower though, and relegate the noisy HDDs to a NAS in the next room. Passive cooling for i7s up to 100W TDP is a reality.

        >use a box with enough processing power and resources to render it this side of doomsday.

        Many rendering packages allow a client to be installed on other machines on your network, to share the load. If you really your images quickly, but don't have the volume of work to justify buying your own render farm, you can rent from someone else... perhaps including the license to use the software on a pay-per-use basis. This model is more realistic for CPU-intensive stuff such as image rendering than it is for disk-intensive stuff such as video-editing though.

    2. blondie101

      Re: tablets, as they are now, are a dead end

      Or will it be like this: you pair your smartphone our tablet with a dumb terminal with real keyboard, mouse and use your window () as screen at the office only if you have to do some 'real' work. When you are done you just take your device with you stop you can access your work everywhere from out of the cloud. Or am I smoking something now?

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: tablets, as they are now, are a dead end


      Semantics aside, I think you're right on most things there, but tablets already can be, and are, used in many of those ways.

      I'm surprised not to have seen more 'out of the box' integration with traditional PCs, such as using a tablet as a second monitor (and dragging files onto its desktop to transfer them... though this might confuse the metaphor), but a fellow commentard says it can be done fairly easily.

      When I used to wrote reports, I was a bugger for printing out drafts and sitting in a comfy chair with a red pen... a tablet with a suitable screen could replace that. For someone who just writes, a tablet has plenty of horsepower- they just need to work on the ergonomics- fixed with a keyboard and case/stand combo, arguably better than a traditional laptop because of the separation of screen and keyboard.

      For content? My mate already has a home server that transcodes and streams Blu-ray rips on the fly to his (or anybody else's, with permissions obviously) phone, tablet or laptop.

      For serious work? Yeah, you can already use tablets to remotely access your home machine (no doubt the process can be polished). For real heavy-lifting, why buy the fancy CPUs yourself for intermittent use, when you can rent it by the cycle? (suits some tasks better than others)

      Watching movies in the bath? Happened years ago in a very user-friendly way: My mate's new PSP automatically introduced itself to his PS3, which in turn introduced the handheld device to his NAS.

      1. Grave

        Re: tablets, as they are now, are a dead end

        >For real heavy-lifting, why buy the fancy CPUs yourself for intermittent use, when you can rent it by the cycle? (suits some tasks better than others)

        i see this as a next logical step too, but as a mainstream service fully replacing pc probably not before 2020. only when the rented cloud/virtual/whatever comes within lets say 75% of current pc hardware capabilities, right now the bandwidth just isn't there (like an average apartment building over here houses like 100 flats, that would mean 100gigs sustained, multiply by blocks and blocks and poof :))

  8. sandman

    Creating stuff

    That's fine - everyone can buy their shiny new tablets while we sit in comfort producing the content for them on our nice ergonomic keyboards, facing our multiple screens, coding, drawing, editing movies, making games and writing away merrily and making all the money :-)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Creating stuff

      C'mon Sandman, you've never had a good idea when away from your desk? Sure, you can jot it down on the back of a beermat, but if your like me you'd probably lose it. I'd like to have sketches on my phone appear on my desktop. Having a desktop and a tablet aren't mutually exclusive! Besides, if your making content to sell to tablet users, you'd need a tablet for testing, Shirley?

  9. David Strum

    They may be old, but I like old

    I know PCs are really looking old and tired; I got a super-gaming tower the other day given - that would have cost about £80 when new; I wanted to throw it in the bin! It just looked horribly big and archaic. But I simply think tablets won’t replace PCs or to be more accurate - Desktops; they may replace laptops though. So it as far as trends go, I think Desktops will morph into our HTPCs (we want the big screen experience still - not the weedy 10inch offering despite its HD credentials), whilst tablets and laptops will morph into a hybrid handheld form. I just can’t see me doing work whilst trying to balance a little slate with my hands. Tablets and Desktops are the same difference between reading a magazine and writing a letter: to me a tablet is too distracting. Unless stylus technology really improves, I prefer typing to touchscreen. But predictions like these are so insignificant, since if they fail to materialize, no one pulls the media men up for making such a stupid prediction.

  10. Mark .

    I find it odd that the messages from the media is simultaneously "We should all throw away our PCs and use tablets, so Windows is doomed" and "Windows 8 is more tablet-friendly which no one wants, so it's doomed" - which is it? I'm glad that this Register article has noted that MS's direction, much as we may dislike it, does make sense if the former is true.

    And I entirely agree with the Reg about the problem of talking about tablets and PCs as separate categories, as the lines become blurred - if in ten years time I'm using a portable device with keyboard, touchpad, touchscreen, and it can also work as a tablet, sorry, that's still a personal computer too. Already the phrase "tablet PC" is common. Questions such as whether tablets outsell "PCs" simply become an exercise in semantics, where you can claim either way depending on what you define the devices as. I'm tempted in getting some kind of touchscreen hybrid, as it seems the natural evolution of ultra-portable-devices-with-long-battery-life that I currently have with my Samsung netbook. But it'll have Intel inside it, and I'll be using it as a Personal Computer, with PC operating systems Windows and Linux.

    Thankfully many of the hybrids still follow the "clamshell" (ASUS Transformer-style) - a problem with the clip-on keyboards is that the tablets end up top-heavy, so need a backstand, and only seem to work well on a desk, which seems to defeat the point of portability (where you may only have your lap - not to mention sitting at home on the sofa).

    "If all you’re doing is checking email, posting Facetweets and buying stuff from Amazon, you don’t need an old-style PC, surely?"

    I don't *need* one, but I don't *need* a tablet/phone. I'd prefer a laptop though, even for that - it's just as portable as a large tablet, and sits on my lap rather than me having to awkwardly hold it and use it at the same time, as well as having a rubbish keyboard. I can browse the Internet on my phone, but I often get out the ultra-portable if I need to start typing something. Of course you can attach a stand and keyboard and so on - just as you can eventually work out how to do other things like print from a tablet - but all you're doing there is gradually turning tablets into PCs anyway!

    And if I want portability, a smartphone is far more portable than a large tablet. And here's another problem with categorisation - what's the difference between a smartphone and a tablet? It's also not clear what outselling PCs really mean. Already we must have phones outselling PCs, and people can happily use phones to do email and Internet, and people upgrade phones more often, and are less likely to share them, both leading to higher sales. But that doesn't mean people have thrown away their computers.

    Should we cheer at the loss of MS dominance? Well yes if the alternatives are many choices, preferably open, including Android, Linux, ChromeOS. No if the alternative is the dominance of the far more locked down IOS, where Apple control the OS, the software *and* the hardware.

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