Does Our Love Of Tablets & Smartphones Signal The Beginning Of The End For PCs?

If college kids today could see the hulking mass of plastic and metal parts that comprised the PC I was required to buy from my college freshman year, they would probably never stop laughing. It used to be that to get by in the computing world, a personal computer was the necessary gadget. But as shipments of PCs are forecast to fall for the first time in 11 years, times could be a-changin’.

CNNMoney cites a forecast from IHS iSuppli which says the way things are going, PC shipments are going to decline for the first time since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. It’s somewhat surprising, as companies like Intel were pushing ultrabooks that were supposed to bolster the PC market.

But instead, ultrabooks aren’t selling like hotcakes, or like tablets for that matter. And although the release of Windows 8 is also expected to boost the market, it probably won’t be enough to satisfy PC makers. To that point — it’s likely that only 1 million Windows 8 tablets will be sold this year, in contrast to the more than 15 million iPads that sold during last year’s holiday season.

Even students buying laptops — a time of the year that used to give PCs a bump — hasn’t done what it used to, and PC shipments were pretty much miserable in the last three months.

The shift in how we compute is pretty clear — why have that ginormous PC in your dorm room when you can easily email, browse the Web or store your documents in the cloud with a light, thin tablet or smartphone? Sure, there’s no keyboard or mouse, but when it comes to convenience, for many consumers those smaller devices beat out the traditional PC. Plus, they’re pretty and neat looking.

This fall in PC shipments may signal the beginning of the end for PCs, but then again, there are many devoted PC-users out there who will likely push to keep their computing way of life going.

What do you think?

PC shipments to fall for first time in 11 years – forecast [CNNMoney]