For an extensive amount of time now, laptops and personal computers have dominated the computing industry. From small businesses, to schools, to many large corporations, these computing systems have become a necessity at hand. They’ve been distributed in many variations of color, size, and form factors, with different operating systems that are created to fit just about anyone’s needs. However, the world of technology is an ever changing one and a new hardware has penetrated the computing market and has posed as a potential risk. This hardware, known as the tablet, has become a popular item and with its market share growing exponentially, it leaves many to wonder whether it will take over and completely dominate the industry of computers and eliminate its predecessors.
In a general, a personal computer is defined to be a microcomputer that is meant to be used by one person at a time. Carried into execution in 1975 by Ed Roberts, the very first personal computer said to be born is the Altair. Although many attempts were made to imitate this new-found idea of a computer (since it was relatively cheap to do so at the time), many models produced by various companies failed to progress and by 1980 only four managed to break on to the scene; the Atari 400/800, the Radio Shack TRS-80, the Commodore PET, and the Apple (arstechnica.com). The PET introduced the well accepted and successful Commodore 64, which positively left its mark on the mass market and went on to sell over 22 million units. By 1981, the very famous and well known computer company IBM had made its way into the industry and by 1984 Apple had completed the desktop ensemble by giving users a mouse and a graphical user interface with the birth of the Macintosh (arstechnica.com). Unfortunately, by 1994 Commodore had filed for bankruptcy and by 1996, a company by the name of JTS, had purchased Atari. By 1997, suffering from a loss of billions of dollars, Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, left the industry only to come back the following year to bring us, what is known to date to be the most astounding advancement in technology and computers, the iMac and the introduction of its operating system OS X (arstechnica.com).
During the same year IBM made its entrance, 1981 also brought the arrival of the portable computer known as the laptop. Named “the Osborne 1” by inventor Adam Osborne and his company “Osborne Computer”, this machine weighed about 11kgs, came equipped with 64K of memory, a 5-inch display and battery pack, and had a price tag of $1,175 (mln.com.au). Unfortunately, this was a miss, and Osborne Computer went out of business shortly afterwards. In the years to come, many computer manufactures would try their hand at this new portable design, and while some continued to fail, others, like Apple’s reveal of the iBook G3 “Clamshell” in 1999, became a hit and helped shed more light on the idea of having a portable sized computer at hand. By 2001, laptops were being used widely and consistently and even penetrated the education market, with Virginia’s own Henrico County Public Schools being one of the first public school districts to allow students to utilize laptops as a learning tool (Wikipedia.com).
First it was the desktop, then it was the laptop, and now the evolution of the computer continues with the tablet. While tablets have been around since about the 1980’s, it was Apple’s invention of the iPad, in 2010 that really brought the attention of consumers. Since then, other well-known brands like Samsung, Asus, Microsoft and LG have all released tablet variations of some sort. The popularity of tablets has increased and the idea itself has been adopted by laptop distributors, bringing to light a new form called 2-in-1 or “Hybrid” laptops, laptops that can be converted into a tablet. It is for this reason, amongst others, that tablets are expected to dominate the market of computers. However, that may not be the case, as there are other factors that play into consumer spending when it comes to purchasing such a device.
Often, the typical desktop PC is stationary and is operated by one user a time, although many units can be occupied at once in a network. The desktop PC can be used to meet a variety of different needs in different settings. In business, it can be used to execute spreadsheets, preparing presentations, operating and managing databases applications, and when connected to the internet it can be used to communicate with other businesses and customers via email and other web based applications. In a home setting, unless being used for business as well, a desktop PC can serve as an entertainment hub. It can be utilized to play video games, video chat, access and watch movies and TV shows, instant message, online shopping. A laptop, can essentially do everything a desktop PC can do, except it can be done while on the go. Its portable and uniform stature, allows it to be a great a tool for both home and business use and can commonly be seen used by students in an educational setting as well. The tablet, in its basic form, originally introduced as more as an entertainment device then as a means of productivity. However, with the addition of software support from a variety of computer companies, and a few external add-on’s if desired, a tablet can now do almost everything a laptop can do, in a much smaller, lighter, simpler form, from editing presentations, to utilizing social media, to mirroring exactly what’s on your mobile device, the tablet has grown to be a very versatile device.
There are many pro’s to owning or utilizing a desktop PC, with the number one pro probably being its ability to be a power house station. A desktop PC, due to its size, can handle many processes at once before potentially lagging. It is constantly connected to a power source (most of the time) and does not need to be charged. Very often it can be modified (monitor can be upgraded to a bigger size, keyboard can be swapped to a more ergonomic unit), storage capacity and speed can be optimized or altered with minimum effort, and the hardware, since it is usually stationed in one place for a time period, is not prone to accidental damages and typically has a lengthy life span. However, just as much as it’s stationary design can be a gift, it is also one of the reasons why many people turn to laptops for their on-the-go computing needs. Desktops are not meant to be taken everywhere, so laptops allow for portability of productivity with its lightweight and slim design. If storage and speed is an issue, depending on the unit itself, both specs can be modified to fit the user’s needs. On the opposite end, laptops do not always have the best battery life, they are more subjected to accidental damages as a result of being moved around a lot. The list of pros for a tablet can become quite extensive. After all, they are super convenient to tote around, they can be relatively cheaper than buying a laptop or desktop, they come in an array of sizes, they can be put on the same data plan as your phone depending on your service provider, they support an enormous amount of productivity applications (and applications in general), and can be paired to a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for added efficiency. On the downside, tablets are not nearly as powerful as a laptop or desktop, and at times find it difficult to multitask and run many applications at once without a reduction in speed. Tablets are at the bottom in rankings when it comes to battery life and hardware storage capacity cannot be compared to such found on a laptop or desktop. Without the investment of a keyboard or mouse, relying solely on its touchscreen interface may not yield the best results when typing up a report or switching between different web pages and windows. With a glass screen being 50% of the tablet’s makeup, it is highly prone to accidents, and one mishap can potentially lead to a shattered screen and a non-functional device all together.
According to statista.com, in 2010, the year that the iPad was introduced to the market and the concept of a tablet was still very vague to some consumers, the number of tablet units that were shipped worldwide were relatively low at only 19 million units. Desktop-PCs took second place in shipment at 157 million units and laptops took first place with a shipment of 201 million units worldwide. From 2011-2014, the tablet market saw an increase in shipment, from 76 million units in 2011 to 229.7 million units in 2014, while the desktop and laptop market continued to take a hit, declining from 155 million units to 133.85 million units and from 209 million units to 174.28 million units respectively. The tablet market would continue to grow tremendously, reaching 276.7 million units in shipment by 2015, while the desktop and laptop market each continued to trail behind at 113.6 million units and 163.1 million units. Extremetech.com provided a breakdown of unit shipments of devices by operating system. In 2013, the highest amount of computing devices (mobile phones, PC’s and ultra-mobiles) that were shipped out were running the Android operating system, at 898,944 and by 2015 had continued its growing trend, shipping out 1,280,893 units. Windows took second place in shipping 326,060 units in 2013 and growing to 373,694 units in 2015. Unfortunately, since iOS and Mac OS are exclusive only to Apple devices, iOS/Mac OS came third place in shipping 236,200 devices in 2013 before reaching a high of 301,349 in 2015.