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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Are Tablets Really Replacing PCs within SMBs?

In 2012, a total of 47.2 million households and 1.9 million SMBs purchased a PC for the first time (Techaisle estimates), increasing global PC penetration by 2% in both the consumer and small business segments as an average of 5,200 small businesses and 130,000 households per day purchased a PC for the first time.

According to IDC, a total of 350 million PCs (desktops + notebooks) were shipped worldwide in 2012. Assuming that each first-time buyer in both the consumer and small business segments bought one PC, a total of 49.2 million PCs were first-time purchases. Therefore, the remaining 300 million PCs purchased in 2012 were either for increasing density or for replacements.

There are three elements that contribute to PC shipments. These are:

    1. Increasing Penetration: businesses or households that purchase and use PCs for the first time

 

    1. Increasing Density: purchase and use of PCs for either additional members of a household or employees within a business

 

    1. Replacements: replacing older PCs with new PCs



Increasing Penetration

PC market penetration will continue to be driven by emerging market countries. There are 1.26 billion addressable households in emerging markets but only one in four have a PC. Similarly, there are 44.7 million SMBs in emerging markets, but only two in five have a PC. Both of these figures indicate a huge opportunity for new PC sales as there are still 26.4 million SMBs and 994 million households that
have yet to buy a PC – a huge gap indeed!.

techaisle-established-markets techaisle-emerging-markets


It is true that many of these households and small businesses may choose to purchase a tablet first rather than a PC if the planned usage is focused on consuming content through activities such as emailing, browsing, playing games, following news and watching videos. However, it is also true that PCs will
remain an important part of the device market. A tablet’s weight, portability and convenience cannot be ignored, but Techaisle believes that the tablet market may reach the same set of conundrums – lengthening replacement cycles and fully saturated addressable density – that are affecting the PC market today, causing tablet sales to skid. Since 1982 when the first PC was introduced, a combined one billion households and small businesses have yet to purchase a PC. It is hard to say that tablets will fill that void, especially when the market gets flooded with too many configuration choices and a profusion of different brands with unique value propositions; for a majority of buyers, the tablet purchase decision process will become as difficult as for PCs.

Increasing Density

Increasing density is certainly a problem area within mature markets as the household PC density is more than 1 in most countries. However, in emerging markets the household PC density varies from 0.5 to 0.9 devices per person depending upon the country. Similarly, in the case of small businesses the density is also almost 1.0 in mature market countries and varies from 0.4 to 0.7 in emerging market countries. There is therefore potential for PC vendors to increase density in emerging market countries both within households and small businesses. But here again, we may find that tablets become a device of choice thus impeding density increase. However, these conditions will also hold true for tablets in the next 3-4 years when the number of tablets within a household and a small business will reach a density saturation point beyond which no new tablets will be purchased for additional employees or household members.

Replacements

This is where the most brouhaha is currently. PC replacement cycles are getting extended and users – both corporate and consumers – are buying tablets. Notwithstanding the tepid acceptance of Windows 8, the PC buying process has become a daunting task even for the most technological savvy individual. PCs are variously categorized as Ultrabooks, ultra-thins, light and thin, long battery life, anti-glare screen, Premium HD screen, SSD, HDD, All-in-ones – it makes one’s brain dizzy. So the consumer ends up either pushing back the decision or continues to shop for a suitable configuration at an affordable price. “A PC in hand is worth two in a bush” begins to hold true. The consumer may then default to a tablet, which is still a novelty device. But the question remains, at least, within the context of small businesses – are the tablets they are purchasing really replacing PCs? Let us look at Techaisle survey data below based on total sample size of 9,500 SMBs.

smb-replace-pcs-with-tablets smb-replace-pcs-with-tablets-2


Above data (will not add to 100 percent due to multiple responses) clearly suggests that while there are some incidences of replacements, consistently over 60 percent of SMBs either currently use tablets or plan to use tablets as additions to PCs. However, it is interesting to note that the density of tablets in many small businesses is not always 1.0. For example, a small retail store may have 4 employees but uses 6 tablets and 2 PCs. These tablets are used for point-of-sale, display advertising or self-serve terminals. So in effect tablets are doing the work of PCs with more convenience and a smaller foot-print. It is debatable whether retailers would have used PCs for these tasks in the absence of tablets.

This brings us back to the point that we started with. If 300 million PCs were purchased for either replacements or density increase, are tablets then really replacing PCs, or is the PC market itself getting saturated, with fewer compelling reasons to purchase additions or replacements? Are the PC vendors sufficiently targeting the first time buyers, as this group would have the highest potential for increasing penetration and driving increasing density? IDC also said that a total of 128 million Tablets were shipped in 2012. Approximately 32 million Tablets were purchased by SMBs assuming that SMB share was 25 percent. The two charts above when combined with IDC data gives a rough number of 5 million tablets displacing PC sales. The data for SMBs demonstrates that tablets are not replacing PCs, but are being used in addition to PCs.

Techaisle’s bottom line: PC vendors should therefore market PCs to new users and current users with two very distinct messaging to open up the market.

 

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SMBs would like to have Android Apps on Ultrabooks

A Techaisle survey of 810 SMBs in the US shows that SMBs would ideally like to see Android applications running on Ultrabooks. Nearly 60% of SMBs that use smartphones have Android based smartphones. On an average, a small business has three Android based smartphones and a mid-market business has 26 Android based smartphones. These SMBs have become used to Android apps and would desire to have the same type of capability within Ultrabook.

 


Similar desire does not exist for iPhone apps because they do feel strongly that iPhone is a closed environment, whereas Android is open-sourced, hence, a higher likelihood of Android apps becoming available on a PC platform.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle

 

 

 
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Tracking the Value Shift in Computing

Value Shift – It’s a broad term describing a directional shift within an industry. Every industry goes through such shifts periodically. Most of the time such shifts create new challenges and new opportunities. The impact is almost always big – industries re-structure, leaders fall and new leaders are born. Value Shifts rarely occur as a result of a single phenomenon. They are more akin to little ripples that build to a tsunami.

The computing industry has seen its share of value shifts over the last 3 decades – perhaps more rapidly than any other industry. That’s what makes it so exciting! I believe that we are poised for another such shift. It’s not about the Internet, Web 2.0, SaaS or Cloud Computing – these are merely ripples at the end of the day. The emerging Value Shift is about Device Independence.

The computing industry to date has largely been dependent upon PCs. In other words, the industry’s fortunes were tied to the adoption of that one single class of device. Everything else flows from that. Microsoft made the most of it earning billions as did others – including Google. But that dependence appears to be breaking down. I am constantly intrigued by two things these days – the phenomenal success of the iPhone and the current rage in PCs – Netbooks. After all, having spent the last 20 years tracking an industry where speeds, feeds and computing power have ruled, how does one explain people (in droves) buying a lower power platform with shrunken keyboards and screens? iPhones let you view the same websites and web applications that you access from Netbooks, notebooks and desktops. The experience from a usability standpoint is different for any individual device, but you can access the same information. And it’s not limited to websites and web apps. You can use any number of free products to access your PC using an iphone (read about it here ). In other words device independence.

The “Information Fabric”

Padmasree Warrior, the CTO of Cisco puts forth a compelling prediction – the emergence of an “information fabric”. I believe it. The fabric can be defined in many ways and a many levels – from the lowest level network protocols to the highest level where information is consumed by individuals and corporations. Most importantly, the information fabric, I believe, will not limit itself to allow consumption and utilization of information by a single device or even a class of devices. Instead it will enable consumption by a whole range of devices leveraging the unique user experiences of each device.

The Ripples that Matter

It’s not difficult to see the key technologies that are driving this Shift. Of note are continued advances in virtualization and remoting where performance and user experience is improving rapidly. But also worth noting are storage technologies that are becoming common to different kinds of devices – specifically flash storage, whereas in the past application performance was somewhat dependent on type of storage used. The commonly understood technologies impacting bandwidth, throughput improvement, network capacity, data center optimization also continually push us towards device independence.

value-shift

It’s All About Productivity

Ultimately the move towards device independence is about productivity resulting from the freedom to use the device that best suits the work environment at any given point is time (a smartphone, a PC, a Netbook or even a Kindle). A lot of pieces need to fall into place and getting to true device independence will take a long time but there is no doubt that the ripples that started this value shift are transforming into a Tsunami.

Abhijeet Rane
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New Microsoft ad - Will it work or will it hurt?

Microsoft released a new ad that has been making the rounds on various web video sites and on TV. The new ad shows a lady who states she is not too cool to afford a Mac. Clearly Microsoft is taking a swipe at the higher cost of Macs in a down economy. During  discussion last night with some friends, they all liked the ad (Disclosure: they all work at Microsoft. That said, they are generally pretty objective people). They liked the ad because they believed it was on target. I respectfully dissented and here's why -

1. Everyone knows that the Mac is more expensive. That fact does not need to be reinforced. If at all it should be reinforced in good times when people are spending freely. They are not.

2. Windows rules. And will for the foreseeable future. People don't buy PCs for low prices. They buy them because they are the standard. So what is the point of this ad?

3. Mac is a luxury brand and is consciously positioned as such. Luxury brands are forced to sustain their cache during rough economic times. That is the risk they take. You don't see Mercedes and BMW lowering their prices because their image is linked to those prices. And once you lower prices you can't bring them back up again. Occasional rebates, yes. Lower MSRP, no.

4. Finally, this approach can backfire. The PC ad indirectly heightens the "aspirational status" of the Mac. Like the guy who goes from driving a Honda Accord to driving a BMW, the current ads suggest that when times are better, it is OK to buy a Mac and indeed a consumer should aspire to do so but for now buy a PC.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIS6G-HvnkU]

The Microsoft ads that have "I am a PC and I am not alone" are therefore on target and beautifully made. The other set of "I am a PC" ads that show kids doing stuff are awesome. Perhaps the best tech ads I have ever seen. Both of the above evoke a strong sensory reaction. Exactly what is needed to counter Mac ads that have done this so effectively on the past.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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