12 August 2006 will mark 25 years since the launch of the IBM PC.
During the past 25 years, Gartner estimates that 1.6 billion PCs have been sold and 870 million are currently installed. The annual revenue for this huge industry tops $200 billion. Three factors have played a central role in the PC's success:
But the PC faces challenges to its primacy. Although operating systems and applications continue to add features and capabilities, these improvements are difficult to translate into meaningful benefits for users. The virtuous circle of innovation that drove the PC has become a "vicious cycle" of increasing complexity. Simplicity and stability are key PC failings.
In the coming years, Gartner expects many new devices will challenge the PC. The growing availability of cheap, ubiquitous bandwidth and processing power, coupled with Internet-based services, makes possible a new style of application delivery. This mode of delivery promises to unravel some of the complexity surrounding PCs.
The PC platform will not meet all needs, but its inherent flexibility to adapt to market demands and encompass new usage patterns makes it a strong contender in the future. Virtualization will be a key development, enabling the delineation of function and access, which will, in turn, deliver improved ease of use and security benefits. The biggest challenge the PC industry will face is adapting to new applications, management and business models while supporting the legacy versions of these as well.
Analytical Sources: Charles Smulders, Steve Prentice, Stephen Kleynhans and Brian Gammage, Gartner
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