Home opinion-and-analysis ShawThing Don’t touch up the mouse – it’s the key to productivity.

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The Internet is littered with stories (and that’s all they are) that personal computers (Mac included) are dying but the reality is that the keyboard and mouse, not touch, is still the best input mechanism for content creation.

So for educated iTWire readers here is the lie of the computing land. If you know all of this already please tell me what more I could cover.

Consumer:

We need to distinguish between two uses - content creation (let’s call this desktop computing including Windows, Mac and Linux PC’s and their notebook/hybrid form factors) and entertainment (let’s call this mobile computing including smartphones and tablets).

The former is predominately used for typing up assignments, letters and CV’s in Word, spreadsheets in Excel, Email, web surfing and occasional use of PowerPoint or other programs (or the Mac or Linux equivalents).

The latter is predominately used for viewing movies, listening to music, email, SMS, Twitter, surfing the web and playing games on the move.

The content space has started to move from traditional mini-tower PC’s to notebooks but these are still largely perched on a desk instead of a laptop. Keyboards and mice rule, touch interfaces are not needed.

The entertainment space is split between smartphones (about 84%) and tablets (16%) where touch is the main interface. No one writes tomes on these – they are OK for creating 140 character tweets, SMS and short email responses or for viewing content like movies etc.

Business

Windows controls more of the desktop market – simply because Mac’s cost more.

There is no evidence that smartphones or tablets are replacing desktops – they are a relatively new category of light-weight computing devices that are being used to extend the working day. You won’t find any office that seriously creates content where PC’s have been replaced with iPads.

Sobering statistics

At last count (March 2013)

Desktop - Windows XP/Vista/7/8 had 91.62%, OS X had 6.92% and Linux 1.17%. It has pretty much been this way for a few years.

Mobile - Android had 24.85%, iOS had 61.41%, Windows Phone 1.5% and BlackBerry 1.38%. These figures are rapidly changing as Android take hold in emerging markets, espcially in Asia.

Cannibalism - new device taking sales from existing devices.

The iPad is reputed to have eaten PC sales – this is simply not so. The reality is that tablets, especially iPad and Android have created a new mobility market.

Portable 10+” devices (netbooks, notebooks and now hybrid tablets with keyboards) have severly eaten into PC sales mainly because of economies of scale - its now cheaper to make a notebook than a desktop.

Sales of 22+” LCD screens and keyboards/mice are booming – all that is needed to bring the notebook user experience up to that of a traditional desktop.

IN THE DESKTOP AREA

Windows 8 is not a lame duck

Statistics show that Windows XP is still a major player, Vista is nearly gone and Windows 7 is the dominant OS. Simple explanation - Windows 7 is a good operating system and there is no need to replace it with Windows 8. New PC’s sales have slowed because of things like the global financial crisis but as XP machines die (let’s say a 5 year cycle) Windows 8 (or later) sales will dramatically increase. My opinion on Windows 8 is that they went overboard on touch and consequently the most downloaded free app is Classic Shell which brings back the start button and makes it look like Windows 7…

Windows 8 notebooks in particular, and the newer hybrid designs are selling well replacing desktop form factors.

OS X market share is declining

Macbook sales are declining - I suspect that people who bought the ultra-light iPad believed that it could do more than it really could. My prediction is that a Macbook OS X hybrid (convertible tablet) will be one of Apples next steps to rebuild this market.

IN THE MOBILITY/CONSUMER AREA

iOS will remain a single vendor solution

Even the world’s biggest tech company can’t dominate the mobile market. Apple are fine with that and its hold on the premium market and massive and loyal installed user base means that it will continue to prosper and that more apps will be available for it than other OS.

Android will flourish but will fragment

Google cannot hold onto Android – it is a child that is growing up and will soon have a mind of its own. SamDroid, Tizen, Ubuntu and more mobile variants will eventually take hold as the handset manufacturers seek to differentiate their offerings yet remain largely compatible with Android apps (where the real money is).

Windows 8 Phone

Market share will continue to grow in the enterprise space and reach double digits because of its tighter Windows and Office integration.

Windows 8 RT is a lame duck

Windows RT is not making headway (see iTWire article here). Why? It lacks the apps and the popular appeal of iOS and Android – there is no compelling reason for the consumer or the enterprise user to buy RT.

BlackBerry 10 will survive but we are not sure in what form

BlackBerry either needs to beat Windows Phone (which is going to be very hard – it’s a real David and Goliath fight) or become the glue that holds enterprise communications, security and network integration together on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. There is no shame in becoming a really profitable app…

Summary

I know this article won’t appease SamBoys, AppBoys, AnBoys, MicroSloths, CrackBerry’s and Penguin lovers but it is objective.

Competition is good and usually brings benefits for all of us.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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