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Is the Desktop Computer Becoming Obsolete?

The fate of the desktop computer has been the topic of debate for several years. Knowing both sides of the argument can be beneficial when you need to purchase new computing devices for your business.

Why Some People Believe the Desktop Computer’s Days Are Numbered

Some people believe it is only a matter of time before desktop computers become obsolete, replaced by smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. They often bring up the following points when stating their case:

  • Desktop computers do not provide the portability that people desire nowadays. Mobile devices give users the freedom to access emails, run apps, and access the Internet whenever and wherever they want. The same cannot be said for desktop computers.
  • Desktop solutions take up much more space than mobile devices. Although desktop computers and their monitors have gotten smaller over the years, they still require a lot more desktop real-estate than mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices are becoming more capable and powerful. Despite their small size, mobile devices are becoming increasingly capable and powerful, thanks to hardware and software improvements, enhanced graphics, and boosts in memory capacity. According to industry experts, top-of-the-line smartphones and tablets can be as powerful as mid-range desktop computers if the mobile devices have multicore processors, large amounts of RAM, and powerful graphics hardware.
  • Desktop computer sales have been steadily declining. In 2010, 157 million desktop computers were shipped worldwide, according to Statista. In 2017, only 97.8 million shipped — more than a 35% drop in sales in just 7 years.
Why Some People Believe the Desktop Computer Is Here to Stay

Some people are not convinced that the desktop computer’s days are numbered. They believe it will stick around for many years for several reasons:

  • Desktop computers are easier to customize than mobile devices. For instance, desktop computers often come with many USB and other types of ports, enabling users to easily add peripherals. Similarly, most desktop computers offer features such as memory card slots so that users can increase the machines’ memory capacity. Few mobile devices offer a plethora of ports and expandable storage.
  • Most companies still use desktop computers. According to a 2018 Spiceworks study, 68% of businesses are using desktop computers as their primary computing device. Only 1 percent are using tablets for this purpose.
  • Desktop computers typically last longer than mobile solutions. Thanks to their fairly sturdy construction and repairability, the average life expectancy of desktop computers is 4.5 years, compared to only 2.5 years for smartphones. However, the Spiceworks survey found that companies tend to use both their desktop and mobile solutions longer in real life. Seventy percent typically use their desktop computers for 5 or more years and 24% use them for 7 or more years. As for smartphones, 42% use them for two years or less and 41% use them for three to four years.
  • Mobile devices sometimes do not have what it takes to effectively run apps. All apps are not created equal. Some apps (e.g., business apps, gaming apps) need to run on a high-performance machine to work properly. Although mobile devices are getting more powerful, desktop computers have the performance edge because they are powered by electricity rather than batteries, according to experts. Plus, some apps are easier to use on desktop computers because these machines have large screens, external keyboards, and other amenities.
The Bottom Line

When you list the reasons why some people believe the desktop computer is dying next to the reasons why other people think it is here to stay, it becomes evident that there is currently no clear-cut evidence indicating that one group is right and the other wrong. And that is a good thing. It means you can concentrate on what is really important — finding the computing device that best meets the needs of your business.