Feeds

Number cruncher charts rise of the personal computer...

...and its fall at the hands of smartphones, tablets

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A map of the rise and rise of the personal computer over the past 30-odd years shows that the platform's popularity may have at long last peaked.

Blogger Horace Dediu has posted a fascinating graph charting the relative sales of key computing platforms over the past 36 years, from the early days of 8-bit micros to the present day.

The key conclusion: smartphones and tablets are well on their way to becoming the defining personal computing platforms - in terms of units shipped - for the early 21st Century.

Asymco rise and fall of personal computing

Source: Horace Dediu/Asymco

Dediu's chart, culled from historical sales figures, shows the rapid rise of all new computers. Whether you're looking at the Apple II, the Commodore 64, the Windows PC, the Macintosh, or Android smartphones, initial growth rates are staggering.

The 8-bit and, later, 16-bit micros like the Amiga and Atari ST saw shipments plunge almost as dramatically as they had risen when competing with the broad adoption of rival platforms, most notably the PC and the Mac.

The late 1980s and early 1990s cemented the preference for these two 'standards' over the variety of formats that had been on offer through the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

Asymco rise and fall of personal computing

Source: Horace Dediu/Asymco

The question is, now that the likes of the iPad and smartphones based on Android and iOS are showing the same steep upward growth curve that past platforms did, will the still growing - so far - Mac and PC lines suddenly drop off in the way that those of the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Apple II did?

It's worth noting that the combined shipments of Android and iOS smartphones during 2011 is higher than the number of PCs shipped in the same period - though not if you add Mac shipments to the latter.

It's hard to see the Android and iOS total - which will be higher still if you include lesser smartphone platforms - not exceed PC and Mac shipments during 2012.

Asymco rise and fall of personal computing

Source: Horace Dediu/Asymco

Certainly, the Windows PC has, on the basis of current data, plateau'd. Can Windows 8, due out later this year, change that? It doesn't seem likely.

Still unsure about tablets? As Dediu notes, "we cannot consider the iPad as a 'niche'. The absolute volume of units sold after less than two years is enough to place it within an order of magnitude of all PCs sold".

These and many more charts are on display at the Asymco website. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
End of buttons? Apple looks to patent animating iPhone sidewalls
Filing suggests handset with display strips
One step closer to ROBOT BUTLERS: Dyson flashes vid of VACUUM SUCKER bot
Latest cleaner available for world+dog in September
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER
'Supply chain sources' give up the goss on new iLappy
Reg man looks through a Glass, darkly: Google's toy ploy or killer tech specs?
Tip: Put the shades on and you'll look less of a spanner
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.