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December 21, 2016

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Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Everybody

The PC evolution(end) discussion is very illuminating and has a lot of good points. Let me throw my several cents into it. To start with, I worked at one of the early pioneers of the PC world, OCS out of New York and we made our own computers back then (Intel DOS clones, later also Windows). And I've seen a parallel forming with lessons from the several stages of the PC wars, to today's smartphone wars.

So on the PC, it was the first 'multi-purpose' digital device that consumers could buy. It could do many things like replace the typewriter, the calculator, the fax machine, etc. After it grew more to get the WWW connectivity, thats what powered the PC to its long run as the pre-eminent consumer gadget in terms of its versatility and endurance against other rivals. Look at Skype, killing off the fixed landline telephone business (alongside mobile obviously) or Amazon and what it did to the bookstore and DVD store.

Some of the PC's core business is with enterprise/corporate customers doing 'business' computing needs. Accounting, spreadsheets, correspondence, powerpoints etc. That is a need for which the PC design suits very well - keyboard, mouse, large screen. That is the type of work that also needs 'professionals' and they need good working environments (cubicle farms) and that is work done seated and in longer periods of time (like say programming). That type of work is a natural evolution of computers from before the PC, when mainframe computers were used to do the accounting and billing and various 'computer pie graphs' haha, before the PC. That would be so special they'd often get a mention on TV or in print, that this was a 'computer-generated' pie graph... (therefore it had to be VERY accurate)

A part of the installed base of PCs (excluding tablets) is in that type of work environment and I am certain that need will live on for quite a while. SOME will work to shift that to smaller devices, whether a tablet based solution or even a smartphone - including now the rumor that Samsung will do another attempt at that dockable PC idea that for example Nokia did quite excellently back with say the E7 as I illustrated here on this blog back in 2011. I plugged an HDMI portable monitor/TV to my E7, a mouse and keyboard, and a decent-sized thumb drive and had a workable if not somewhat cumbersome PC replacement solution. I didn't end up ditching my PC but if I had no other way, I could have easily written my blog, done my spreadsheets and even written another book with that Nokia solution back then. It will be done today even more effortlessly with better tech but the idea of the smartphone being the heart of the dockable solution, that has been out there and many variations of it have been on offer. It hasn't set the PC world into terminal decline (yet).

There will be erosion in the PC world, some laptops and desktops will be replaced by tablets or smartphones but not most. A bigger damage is the lack of need to replace the PC. The electronics are pretty durable and there is no burning tech evolution that would drive the need to get something more out of the work PC. So the replacement cycle keeps extending to longer and longer. And the worst damage is the collapse of the non-work PC market. The CONSUMER has found a far better/easier/faster/cheaper way to do Facebook and online banking and whatever shopping etc they want. For the consumer a tablet is far superior to a desktop and marginally better (but far cheaper) than a laptop. For some consumers then the phablet becomes the preferred choice vs the tablet, but for others, they will HOLD ONTO the existing tablet, while upgrading/replacing their smartphone. So once the basic household ownership of tablets reaches its penetration level, it stops growing past that. But smartphones are replaced every 29 months.

Then we do get the sad shrinking market phenomenon. There is not enough business to sustain all the players. The smart ones shifted to mobile (Apple, Lenovo) and the dumb ones cut off that opportunity (Dell, HP). The other players in the supply chain (Intel, Microsoft) have to find their opportunities because the PC side (with tablets) is shrinking and will not sustain them, they HAVE to find either a role in mobile or some other way to grow in some other tech area. Most of the names of the famed PC industry will be as quaint in the next decade as Univac and Honeywell and Burroughs are now to anyone who is studying the IT industry haha. Wayne I think you were the one who mentioned the cinema industry. I agree with that analogy. I myself am reminded of the camera industry - Minolta and Konica, two of the four big hardware makers are out of the cameras business; Kodak famously went bankrupt not once but twice in the 'golden era' of photography as the digital camera/cameraphone industry wrecked their business.

I think for the PC (desktop & laptop) far less sales is coming, they won't die, but not nearly as many makers can survive as exist today. For the tablet industry its worse because so many rushed into tablets (and they are even more clones of each other than PCs had become). The rush to cheapest standard Android tablet has created no room for any profit margins and the industry ran out of profits long ago. So the tablet (non-Phablet) market will suffer far more and also see severe consolidation. Some few giants in the style of the HP-Compaq merger can happen to create some sustainable 'computer' giant of modest size, nothing near an Apple or Lenovo or Samsung. Its possible to be a specialist not unlike say Volvo trucks which still today sell profitably huge numbers of trucks worldwide while the consumer car business went belly-up.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tester

@chithanh:

"Your observation is partially correct but your conclusion is wrong. Read the first Gartner link. Business logic is moving into web/cloud-based applications. The office PC is relegated to displaying a browser window. That is when businesses look at TCO and dump PCs in favor of devices that just run a browser. Whether it comes in tablet form factor, a smartphone with display output, or some small box containing a mobile SoC will depend on the individual needs of the business."

Yes, I hear that all the time. It may partially happen but there's still a lot of things a cloud solution cannot provide. I can promise you that some fools will go that route exclusively and once they get severely burned they'll reverse course.

"Secondly, just today at CES, NVidia introduced "Geforce Now" (apparently taking on Sony's PlayStation Now). A cloud-based gaming service. This is partially driven by demand and partially a by-product of server-based remote 3D rendering for workstations; graphics vendors have seen the trend and are working on it for quite some time already. The Internet connection in most places is not quite up to the task yet, but this will presumably change in advanced mobile markets with the introduction of 5G."

Do you want to know why this won't work out? For the simple reason that the traffic volume is constantly rising. The infrastructure providers already have a hard time keeping up with bandwidth demands, and in time they got a certain standard implemented it will no longer be enough, and they have to restart again - leaving large numbers of customers on underpowered connections. And at some point it will no longer be possible to maintain the insane amount of necessary infrastructure.
It seems many are fooled again by the eternal fairy tale of endless magic growth and completely forget that someone has to PAY for this in the first place - in the end it will be the customers, but if internet becomes too expensive all those cool new ideas will fall flat on their face. And then they may reconsider and realize that the classic locally installed PC maybe wasn't such a bad idea after all...


"PCs became big also due to economies of scale. Developing hardware exclusively for PCs is expensive. Once the numbers are no longer there, I expect that such development will stop, and we will only see mobile technology - repurposed into doing something similar to what PCs once did - going forward. Anything that such mobile technology is unable to do will be done remotely on a local server or in the cloud."

We'll see. Fact is: The high end hardware will always be needed. One segment where I think you are already proven wrong is graphics cards for PCs. The vast majority of PCs no longer has a dedicated graphics card, they exclusively rely on integrated chipsets. Did this raise the prices for dedicated graphics hardware? No, absolutely not.

@Tomi:

That almost sounds as if there were only two segments of the market - enterprise who needs PCs and consumers who don't. But what about a type of consumer that actively uses their computer as a work tool? I know countless people who do that for which a smartphone or even a tablet would never be an adequate replacement.

And what about the gamers?

I think the market is far more diverse with so different needs than it is being made out.
As for profitability, no I do not expect the bigshots to stay alive here, the PC market would be far better served by small shops which can better adjust to their customers' needs. The prebuilt PCs I see on offer are garbage. The only way to get a good machine is to have it custom-built, and if that remains this way none of the large manufacturers will survive long-term because their market is indeed eroding.

chithanh

@Tomi
> It hasn't set the PC world into terminal decline (yet).

Maybe I should clarify, with terminal decline I mean that the sales have peaked and from now on will be on a downwards trajectory. By that definition, the terminal decline has already onset.
In the end (which may take more than a decade to reach) PCs will be irrelevant to computing.

Whether the end will look like horse carriages which were disrupted by cars but are still around in some form today, or like VHS tape which was disrupted by DVDs and has completely disapppeared from the market I don't know.

@Tester
> It may partially happen but there's still a lot of things a cloud solution cannot provide.

Is is happening right now. New development of business applications shifted already to web and cloud based ones. PC-based applications are mostly maintained. Just look at job listings.

> Do you want to know why this won't work out? For the simple reason that the traffic volume is constantly rising. The infrastructure providers already have a hard time keeping up with bandwidth demands

Not enough infrastructure bandwidth to support a couple million hardcore gamers? That seems preposterous. Netflix delivers at higher bitrates than PlayStation Now. Connectivity (and latency) is the real issue here.

> Did this raise the prices for dedicated graphics hardware? No, absolutely not.

High-end gaming hardware commands higher prices than ever. This is of course due to many factors, the competition between AMD, Intel and NVidia traditionally more than anything else. But we see signs of the companies trying to squeeze profits out of their gaming customers with outrageous prices for high-end products in the face of declining unit sales. This is not totally unlike Microsoft, who currently milk dry the businesses unfortunate enough to be locked into Microsoft products.

> I know countless people who do that for which a smartphone or even a tablet would never be an adequate replacement

So, how many of those would not be satisfied with the performance of a Snapdragon 835 smartphone which docks into Monitor/Keyboard/Mouse and can run legacy x86 applications through binary translation?

> the PC market would be far better served by small shops which can better adjust to their customers' needs. The prebuilt PCs I see on offer are garbage

If it were true that PC makers no longer offer products to customers' needs, we would see business shifting from large PC OEMs to the DIY market, but the decline affects e.g. motherboard makers too.
Plus, even smaller shops depend on off-the-shelf components which require the big manufacturers in order to remain viable products.

> The only way to get a good machine is to have it custom-built

While I agree with that statement for my personal machine, I am making much different observations from those around me.
For every person I know who actually cares about the components of their PC, I know 10 or more people who don't care at all. Anecdotes, sure, but reflected in the relative size of the DIY market and custom shops versus large OEMs.

Abdul Muis

Nokia E1 receive 3C certification
http://www.androidpure.com/nokia-e1-ta-1000-passes-3c-certification-coming-soon/

Here the leaked specs
http://nokiapoweruser.com/exclusive-entry-level-nokia-android-phone-nokia-e1-specifications/

Nokia E1 leaked Specs:

1.4 GHz Qaud-Core Snapdragon 425 Processor
Adreno 308 GPU
2 GB RAM
Android Nougat 7.0
5.2 / 5.3-inch, 720p display
16 GB internal storage
13 MP Rear camera
5 MP FFC

Per "wertigon" Ekström

I sure hope Nokia will succeed in their return, and I hope that they can get back to flagship status within a couple of years delivering solid phones...

But other than that I have very little opinion on it right now. Watching the field but I do not feel I have much expertise to lend here. My stance is, wait and see. :)

Re: PC, I think the future will be akin to what Ubuntu were trying to make. PCs will disappear, slowly but surely, and be replaced by mobile.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we will throw out Photoshop, 3D Studio Max, etc. I'm saying these will move to the phone, and the phone will be docked to your workstation.

It is possible that these workstations will include some extra computational unit, or possibly that we return to mainframe solutions for compute-heavy stuff. But I think that cell phones today are on parity with desktop computers, hardware wise.

That's also why I do not think Ubuntu phone is completely dead yet, nor Windows Phone. They will keep working in the quiet, and when their convergence is ready - when they make sense - they will start pitching themselves to professionals.

Of course, it might be much easier to take Android and turn it into a desktop PC than take Ubuntu and turn it into a phone OS. Future will tell. But I think one of the two will happen in the future.

Wayne Borean


@PWE

I liked the idea of Ubuntu Phone. Ubuntu has been a good, solid beginner operating system for a long time. By beginner I mean easy to use, and maintain for someone with a low level of knowledge about computer operating systems. I'd like to see it come back.

Microsoft has a huge problem trying to get back into phones. Too many companies have been burnt by Microsoft. A common saying was, 'A Microsoft Partner is a future Microsoft victim'. Look at the number of Microsoft partners which are defunct. The mobile operators got a good solid warning of what could happen to them when Microsoft bought Skype, and they aren't likely to forget that little episode.

@Wayne Brady

I helped our firm start the switch to web apps. The boss was looking at buying Microsoft Project. We got all the pricing together for it, and while he was suffering from sticker shock I pitched him Dot Project and by the time I left (for medical reasons) the firm had been using it happily for 3-4 years.

http://www.dotproject.net

We ran it on of our own servers, and it was really well received. Especially the price!

For more applications web apps do a fantastic job, for others virtualization may be a better option. Both reduce the need for desktop/laptop computers.

@Everyone

I'm very skeptical of the long term viability of the desktop/laptop market. I know a couple of people in the industry who are of the opinion that the crash in computer sales is because the manufacturers aren't offering what people want, but instead stupid form factors (like convertibles) which buyers don't like. They are wrong. For many people their first computer is a mobile device, like a friend of mine who has never owned a computer, but loves his iPhone, and is currently playing a couple of online games.

The problem is a mobile device can do 90% of what most users need, and has a bunch of capabilities that a computer doesn't have. That is a classical disruptive situation.

We may see the resurrection of companies like Osborne or Commodore which produce small runs of general purpose computers, to fill the small number of needs that mobile can't immediately fill.


Abdul Muis

Nokia have made the Nokia Phone official

https://www.nokia.com/en_int/phones

with the Nokia Android SmartPhone named Nokia 6

Abdul Muis

PS: From the image in that web pages, it seems that the Nokia 6 is Dual Sim Card, and both Sim 1 & Sim 2 can be 4G at the same time...

Abdul Muis

5.5" FHD, 2.5D Gorilla Glass, Polarized screen
Android 7.0
Qualcom 430
4GB/64GB
16MP/8MP
Dual (amplified) speaker, Dolby Atmos
CNY 1699 (US$245)

http://www.hmdglobal.com/press/2017-01-08-nokia-6/

Abdul Muis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Sq5ZjZ-kFQ
Nokia 6 Teaser Video...

ChrisB

Hi Tomi, here's a professor who still doesn't get it: https://theconversation.com/nokia-had-the-worlds-best-smartphone-then-came-the-inferior-iphone-70958

chithanh

I think the Nokia 6 was a good move by HMD/Nokia, same as the N1 tablet it has its purposes. And the N1 tablet surely achieved what it needed to achieve.

HMD will release a phone in the price range where most are selling (smartphone ASP was $295 in 2015 according to Gartner and will drop to $237 by 2020), in the single biggest mobile market (China). Surely cheaper and more expensive models will follow in due time.

But for now, no need to deal with worldwide regulation/distribution/marketing etc. until they get the operation running. Tackle one problem at a time.

Abdul Muis

Nokia 6 picture, including the box picture

http://www.gsmarena.com/nokia_6_handson_shows_that_sweet_metal_body_in_all_its_glory-news-22613.php

Abdul Muis

@Wayne

You definitely have not went to China!!!

I've been to China quite a lot since 1999 and seeing the China transformation in Economy, and I can tell you that China loves premium product AT ANY price point. This is the reason that iPhone growth in China was exponential before Huawei, Oppo, Vivo start becoming more premium. and start beating apple at price/performance in the premiumness of material/feel/design.

Currently at Nokia 6 price, the Nokia 6 is the most premium with a great specs (4GB/64GB). This phone will sell a million unit in a couple of minute when it start taking order.

"And for what? What will they gain for selling a few million midrange phones (if they can manage that)? How much money is there to be made?"

Enough money to be made!!! Of course, not all the top employee can buy a Ferrari. But it will be more than enough!!!

"How are they going to fund the development of a premium model in every price category?"

As I said, (1) enough money to be made, (2) the premium model will have more profit, (3) not every company want to be greedy like apple.

"What of the hundreds of millions they were going to put into the launch marketing campaign? Where is the Xenon flash? The 40mp sensor?"

The Xenon & 40mp sensor is NOT for the Nokia 6. It's for Nokia 9!!! The top of the line with SD 835/8GB/256GB.


Abdul Muis

"One distributor in China, the most cut throat competitive market in the world. Not one China Mobile, the beast of a network, or on ANY telco. This is worse than Apple coming out with the iPhone only on AT&T. And HMD is no Apple."

You're thinking the American way.... I don't know the precise number, but in Asia, most phone sold through distributor, not carrier.

chithanh

@Wayne Brady
> There is simply no way that HMD and Foxconn have an edge that allows them to create a better product and still charge less money and yet make a profit in the current Chinese market.

I think you misjudge the purpose of the Nokia 6.
This phone is decidedly average in almost every regard (processor, screen size and resolution, RAM, price, you name it), just with a slightly more premium feel.

The big profits will be made at the high end, which we haven't yet seen from Nokia/HMD.

> How are they going to fund the development of a premium model in every price category?

Do you seriously think that HMD is going to run out of money before they manage to launch their full lineup?

Abdul Muis

@Wayne

From your statement, you just want Nokia to fail. If Nokia charge too much, you wayne (I mean whine). If nokia charge too less, you also wayne.

Xiaomi/Vivo/Oppo/Huawei only do premium at the high end. Their mid product quality is medium. Their low end have a lower quality. What Nokia just did here is doing premium quality in the low end. Nokia did something different!!!

chithanh

@Wayne Brady
> I have no idea how deep HMD's pockets are. Love for you to tell me.

Then why do you write "How are they going to fund the development of a premium model in every price category?" as if you have a doubt about it?

> I don't desire Nokia to fail, I'm giving my analysis of their position.

Sorry, but your "analysis" is just voicing concern after concern with little to no basis.

> Samsung has been crashing in China even though they have products in every tier. Samsung and Apple both have headwinds against rising nationalism in China.

Nationalism is not new in China. Nokia controlled the Chinese smartphone market for many years, when their phones were not even produced by Foxconn...

> Already the sharks in China are making "premium" phones at rock bottom prices.

Can you tell me a Chinese phone that has comparable specs and "premium" features (aluminum unibody, etc.) to the Nokia 6?
Vernee Apollo 4GB/64GB comes to mind, even with QHD instead of FHD screen but slightly more expensive. However it has a camera weakness.
LeEco Le Max 2 maybe? Very heavy, doesn't have 3.5 mm audio jack.
Maybe you can tell me one such phone.

Abdul Muis

@Wayne

The reason that any current player won't react now is because if they react, they will lost the sales at their upper range (medium and high end segment)!!! And they will lost substantial profit!!!! The reason nokia can do this because nokia don't have anything right now, and it's buying market share... buying market share means, that you sell something that were valued more for a little less. so you gain market share faster. This is the way for new player to get a foothold in the game.

The opposite of buying market share is milking the brand. This is what BB did in the last 8 years. Selling uncompetitive product at a price that were questionable by most. This is what Apple is heading right now if they don't change their strategy.

Abdul Muis

@Whiner

"Just look at Samsung's number you posted. How pathetic is 45M sales of their flagship phone (add another 50% to account for the Note). Some where south of 70M total "profitable phones" while Apple sell 211M in a down year. And nobody else even charts in comparison."

I don't really know if you SINCERELY wanna talk/discuss, or you just WANNA TROLL everybody in here? As I said, you were taking the words out of context. THE NUMBER YOU QUOTE WERE WRONG!!!!!! I will explain to you ONCE AGAIN, I'M ASSUMING you have a LOW IQ!!!!

Explanation!!! PLEASE READ THIS 10 TIMES, so you're brain will understand it.
* In 2012, Samsung sold 65 million of Galaxy S3. IT DIDN'T SAY how many Galaxy S & Galaxy S2 & Galaxy Note it sold!!! Whereas your Apple number is from Apple 1 to 100!!!
* In 2013, Samsung sold 70 million of Galaxy S4. IT DIDN'T SAY how many Galaxy S, S2, S3, Note, Note 2 it sold!!!! Whereas your Apple number is from Apple 1 to 100!!!
* In 2014, Samsung sold 45 million of Galaxy S5. IT DIDN'T SAY how many Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4, Note, Note 2, Note 3 it sold!!!! Whereas your Apple number is from Apple 1 to 100!!!
* In 2015, Samsung sold 45 million of Galaxy S6. IT DIDN'T SAY how many Galaxy S, S2, S3, S4, S5, Note, Note 2, Note 3, Note 4 it sold!!!! Whereas your Apple number is from Apple 1 to 100!!!


@Tomi

I really hope you delete this Wayne Brady Trolling, so we can have a healthy discussion without the need of being like a kindergarten.

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