Feeds

Number cruncher charts rise of the personal computer...

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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport
Breaches screening rules cos Apple SCREEN ROOLZ, ok?
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
The British Museum plonks digital bricks on world of Minecraft
Institution confirms it's cool with joining the blocky universe
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.