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BLOG:Post-PC Microsoft signs its death warrant -- with an iPad

Jonny Evans | April 12, 2013
Is Microsoft doing the right thing by refusing to offer Office to Apple iPads now?

A leaked report claims Microsoft [MSFT] intends bringing Office to Apple[AAPL] iPads -- but not until 2014. Meanwhile IDC informs us that PC sales have slumped to a 20-year low. Microsoft's refusal to follow trend means it has signed its own death warrant, and here's why:

[ABOVE: From IDC. These figures really aren't great, are they?]

The facts first

A very short reprise of the facts as they've been revealed so far:

Struggling PC makers and Windows 8 push PC market into free fall

"Worldwide PC shipments fell by 13.9% year-over-year during Q1, with higher PC prices and mobile devices also contributing."

All PC makers (including Apple) have been impacted, these figures reveal, though the company continues to hold 10 percent of PC sales. In comparison, HP saw 23.7 percent negative growth worldwide.

Office for iPad in 2014? Big mistake

"If a new timetable report is accurate, Microsoft's making the wrong move, say analysts."

"A purported Microsoft roadmap for future releases of its Office suite showed a fall 2014 launch date for Office on Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems."

Decoding the data

Neither IDC nor Gartner (who also published PC market figures yesterday) account for tablet sales as PCs. A third analyst firm, Canalys, does do this, and believes tablet sales will eclipse notebook sales by 2014.

Many critics continue to argue that iPads are not PCs, which is true, but as these devices become more powerful and developers introduce ever more advanced apps, it's clear tablets will pretty soon be equally as capable as any low power PC, at least for the majority of general use.

More sophisticated computational operations will continue to require a PC, but this may end up being nothing more than a remote machine accessed by a mobile device over private or public clouds.

The IDC and Gartner figures also confirm that Windows 8 has failed to ignite the PC market, and, indeed, has served to slow that market.

Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays:

"While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

Disruption in the enterprise

I've written endlessly on this, so I won't repeat myself too much. In brief, the reality across enterprise users is a move to adopt BYOD policy, to establish socially-based collaboration systems accessible via mobile devices, to embrace home and remote working, and a huge transformation in management culture (which is just beginning) which turns away from silo-based management in favor of group-focused working practises.


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