Laptops Overtake Desktops–This Time For Real

By  |  Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 8:57 am

kinglaptopsIn the news world, there are things that I think of as Groundhog Day stories–ones that announce a noteworthy event that you could have sworn earlier stories had already made a big deal about having happened. One of those would be the notion that laptops have finally outsold desktop PCs. Every time notebook sales outpace desktops in some specific respect–in U.S. retail stores, for instance–there’s a rash of laptops-overtake-desktops articles. Here’s one from 2003.

There’s another outbreak of such stories today. But this one was prompted by a new report from iSuppli that’s pretty darn definitive: It says that global unit sales of notebooks surpassed desktops for the first time in Q3 2008. Unless you want to wait for the day when there are more laptops on the planet than desktops, this is it–laptops have overtaken desktops. Period. Finally. End of need for future Groundhog Day stories on the matter.

So can I make a modest proposal? If the majority of personal computers being sold everywhere on earth are laptops, they’re not the variant of the PC they were when they first popped up in the 1980s–they are the PC. It’s desktop computers that require qualification, and the time will come when desktops become an endangered species, just like minicomputers were by the 1990s. Which means that it would be perfectly reasonable to redefine the unmodified term PC as meaning a computer that’s portable.

I’m not promising I’ll stick to such a policy here–if I’m the only person who does, I’ll just confuse people–but I kind of like the idea.


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Backlin Says:

    I believe the desktop will die a slow death, mainly because PC enthusiasts and hardcore gamers will still be building them for many years to come. When we can build our own laptops, that’s when the desktop PC officially becomes a dying market.

  2. Marc Says:

    We had 6 power cuts at work today. Those in the office on laptops were laughing. I was not!
    Thankfully Visual Studio has a auto recovery feature.

  3. Spot Cool Stuff Says:

    I like the idea of redefining the term “PC” too.

    But I think desktops will be around for a while. In slow decline, perhaps, but not at all dead. Businesses will not want computers that employees can easily take home/steal. People still like large monitors, which are desk bound. And computers are increasingly being integrated into your home life, to record TV for example. So people will always want one at home.

  4. seremina Says:

    Its true there’s more laptops than desktops, and for good reason; they’re portable. Desktops require you to be at home to do your computing and nobody will take a desktop for travel. Monitors come in big sizes, even on laptops.

    But there is something else that has been overlooked. Netbooks. They will probably be as popular as laptops, if not more. They are -light- in weight, easy to carry, cheaper to buy, can do everything yet are simple, and are generally one core. The most RAM I’ve seen in them is 2GB. The most common number is either 1GB or 512MB. They usually have Windows XP or a flavour of Linux as an OS. I have not seen a Mac version yet. I’d personally love a netbook instead of this clunky desktop I borrow daily with its haywire monitor that acts like an electric magnet.

    Mr. McCracken, could you please do a review of all the netbooks available? I’m asking because it would be nice, and it would be a good bonus if you mentioned which one was more sight-accessible. Its difficult to shop for a netbook on the web when I’d like to see how accessible the screen and fonts are…and none of the computer/office shops offer netbooks on display.