The PC's death by tablet is greatly exaggerated

A guest post by Polly Howden, Mobile Product Manager at Gumtree

This week Gartner predicted in its latest report that tablets will overtake PC sales in 2015. This will no doubt herald a slew of ‘Death of the PC’ articles that we are accustomed to when similar reports have been released in the past. But are tablets really going to do away with the PC? Despite the fact that the death of the PC has been proclaimed as far back as 1999, it refuses to go quietly into the good night. Look around your office. I’ll bet that most people are sat at their desks on their PCs rather than whizzing around the office on tablets and Segways. In fact, the Gartner report says that PCs are experiencing a ‘relative revival.’

So what is it that is driving rapid tablet adoption among consumers? Well, the shift to browsing and shopping on mobile is leading this revolution. Nielsen research shows that 87% of smartphone and tablet owners use these devices to shop. And we are seeing this ourselves – over 64% of visits to the Gumtree platform come from mobile and tablet devices. It is not only the final purchase that is driving the increase in tablet use. Customers are using their mobile devices and in particular tablets to do the initial research on what they want to buy. The same Nielsen report found that 65% of tablet shoppers search for product information and 66% check prices and stock while in the store. The days of lugging that hefty Dixons catalogue home are certainly over!

Another interesting nugget from the Gartner report is that the Android OS will account for 1.2 billion devices in 2015. This will come as no surprise to anyone. Surely the increase in the sale of Samsung devices can be traced back to the popularity of the Android OS! Within our own platform, we are seeing a similar increase. There is a 72% increase in visits from Android tablet devices when we compared June 2013 to June 2014. We also saw a 56% increase in Android OS listings from 2012 – 2013. 

However, much like the PC, I wouldn’t wholly discount other OS competitors. We saw a 64% increase in iOS listings between 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the Windows platform with Nokia is gaining fast momentum in emerging markets. In fact, according to an IDC report, Nokia Phone devices outsold iPhones in 24 markets including Colombia, India, Kenya, Mexico and Nigeria, many of which list among the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets. Other tablets such as Amazon and Tesco Hudl are also not insignificant. Who knew a supermarket brand could garner over 5% of the Android tablet audience outshining big names like Sony, Motorola and HP?

So, should we all jack in our trusty PCs and laptops for tablets? Maybe not so fast. We live in a multi-device world and the future of mobile technology will take advantage of this. Companies are going to have to think more carefully about delivering a beautiful website or app designed for high-resolution touch-screens. There will be no one primary device, but rather the right tool for the job – where we will likely use our PCs in the office, browse for the latest gadget or dress on our tablets while we are sat in front of the TV, and then switch to play Candy Crush on an app on our mobile.

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