The traditional personal computer has been in trouble for over a decade. Today’s PCs just don’t do much more than they did 10 years ago. Sales have been in the dumpster for years while the Mac chugged along to a continual string of record sales.
Yes, headline after headline says Microsoft has reinvented the personal computer. OK. I missed that somehow, so I had to do a little digging around to see why all the anti-Apple digital technology rags and their writers were busy humping Microsoft’s leg.
Still A PC
Let’s see. The iPhone was launched just over 11 years ago and Windows PC sales have been in the doldrums for about a decade. What happened? The post-PC era began with the mobile revolution which was led by iPhone and iPad. PCs didn’t really die, of course, but Microsoft found itself in an unenviable position of being beaten up by Apple’s Mac at the high end, losing an entire product line of tablets to the iPad, and getting its low end lunch eaten by Chromebooks at the low end of the product spectrum.
What to do? What to do?
So, to hear technology writers tell the tale, Microsoft reinvented the PC. It’s called Microsoft Surface. Wait! What? That Surface? The same Surface that has been losing money since it was introduced back in 2014? The same Surface that Microsoft wrote off about a billion dollars?
Yeah. Microsoft’s Surface reinvented the PC. One could argue that where traditional Windows PC makers were barely breaking even, Microsoft came along and reinvented everything by losing big money. But that’s not what reinvented really means.
What Microsoft has managed to do is good for the PC industry, despite mostly stagnant sales for the past four years. Oh, and by mostly stagnant, I mean dwarfed by the Mac and iPad. We have to include both because Microsoft’s television commercials compare Surface touchscreen devices to both Mac and iPad.
Dwarfed? Uh, yeah. Surface is the dwarf with about one-tenth of what Mac and iPad bring to Apple’s coffers.
So, what did Microsoft do to reinvent the PC industry?
The Windows maker made Windows much cheaper for PC manufacturers so as to thwart growing Chromebook sales at the low end. And, Microsoft launched a modest line of touchscreen PCs– from cheap-assed notebook tablet hybrids to MacBook Pro competition to a desktop PC with a giant touchscreen that one ups the Mac.
Microsoft Surface sales pushed close to a billion dollars a quarter four years ago, and after a year of dropping sales, seems to have rebounded with the rest of the PC industry with slightly more than a billion in quarterly sales this year.
The PC industry is back, baby.
Well, not so much back as owners of older PCs are upgrading now, so pent up demand is translated into more Microsoft Surface sales. What about reinventing the PC? The touchscreen on Windows PCs is a thing that Apple does not really answer. iPad is not a Mac. The Mac is not an iPad. And neither Mac or iPad is a Windows Surface notebook tablet hybrid.
It doesn’t matter.
Most touchscreen notebook users don’t use their devices as tablets, therefore, the touchscreen doesn’t get used much. Instead, the little devices are used as, well, notebooks.
So much for reinventing the personal computer, huh?
As much as I think a touchscreen on a Mac– and a better Mac-like keyboard and some trackpad and mouse support on iPad– would be a plus, the lack of either one won’t make me switch from Mac and iPad to a single device that performs poorly as both notebook and tablet.