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PC vs Mobile Devices

October 31, 2010

“It’s important that all of us do precisely what our competitors and customers will ultimately do: close our eyes and form a realistic picture of what a post-PC world might actually look like . . . ”  Ray Ozzie, Chief Software Architect – Microsoft

I extracted this quote from Ray’s memo entitled, Dawn of a New Day.  It’s with a degree of pride that I read this on Ray’s blog (posted 10/25), because I’ve been posing the same question to friends for the past year.  Mobile devices and the mobile market are a significant threat to large PC manufacturers.  The gains in functionality, ease of use and rate of adoption in mobile devices is unrivalled when compared to the PC / laptop market. Certainly computer hardware (Mac and PC) have become more powerful and faster but there is no doubt where the public and business markets are turning.  The rate individuals and businesses trade-in / trade-up for new mobile devices is astounding as compared to how long people hold on to their PCs / laptops.  For example, my firm has me swap out my laptop every three years, but I get a new mobile device every 12-months.

A combination of increasing functionality and demand should make hardware manufacturing marketing professionals very nervous – I know I’d be losing sleep at night.  I would think that large PC manufacturers would be looking to purchase an established mobile device firm to provide them entry into such a vibrant market. It could be quite an amazing opportunity for them to bridge their handheld devices to the PCs / laptops they manufacture; increasing cross-selling opportunities and customer loyalty.  I’m no seer – Apple figured this out years ago and it is in part why their stock hit an all time high earlier this month. 

Software firms, such as Microsoft where Ray Ozzie currently work, are better positioned than the hardware manufacturing counterparts because they will have a seat at the proverbial table.  However, the same can not be said for firms like HP / Dell.  They will be relegated to the sidelines.  A quick visit to Dell and HP’s site showed me a couple of unimpressive pages for mobile devices.  Consumers remain hungry for PCs and laptops in a way I find difficult to imagine 10-years from now.  Hardware marketers should wake up and use their websites to better promote their mobile products while they remain relevant players and before they follow in the footsteps of other technology giants who were unable to “imagine” as Ray Ozzie puts it.

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