Looking at the cyclic nature of the PC industry, while it has been the worst year on record for new PC sales, the industry is banking on a bounce back. The PC manufacturers hope that those businesses and consumers who upgraded during lockdown, will be looking to replace the devices bought in 2020.
Three years ago, the UK went into lockdown. Office workers were forced to work from home and many received new laptop devices to help them to carry on working during the pandemic. Last year the PC industry saw its biggest decline in sales ever. But one thing that coronavirus has shown us is that people adapt very quickly and do not revert back to the old ways of doing things once a sense of normality returns.
Living with Covid-19 is the era of hybrid work patterns, Zoom and Team meetings. The PC companies have responded by offering better cameras, improvements to audio and are trying to blur the line between what is essentially a hardware device and the capabilities it enables through software. Are these “features” compelling enough for a cash-strapped IT department to rollout new devices?
Probably not, and the AI (artificial intelligence) powered capabilities being developed by the online conferencing platforms are likely to be far superior.
Another myth that the industry often weaves into the PC refresh pitch is that, in order to attract the very best people, we need to provide the very best devices. Look at the eye-watering prices of the latest devices. There is no doubt they are handsome, sleek and tick the desirability boxes. But wait a sec, we’re in a cost of living crisis. In April, everyone is going to see their energy bills rise again, once the government cap is lifted. Nurses and teachers are on strike; people are having to use food banks, just to get by.
Given this backdrop, frankly, anyone trying to justify a new PC on the basis that it helps to attract and retain staff, should reassess their moral compass. And the little surge in dopamine we get from being handed a new device, quickly subsides, once it connects into the corporate IT systems everyone uses.
In the corporate world, a PC is merely a client device to enable end users to access enterprise IT. For the sake of regulatory compliance, local applications and storage are often kept to a minimum. This concept is distilled in thin clients and many major PC providers offer such devices. In this post-Covid, hybrid work environment, perhaps now is the right time to consider a different approach to end user computing. Streaming desktop Windows from a public cloud now makes a lot more sense than a PC refresh.