The PC is in trouble. Big trouble, if you believe research firm IDC's new data, which shows that shipments of PCs plunged 14 percent in the first quarter of this year. That's the sharpest decline in sales of personal computers since the firm started tracking the industry in 1994.
Since the numbers have been released, technology experts and pundits have hypothesized about the causes of the ailing personal computer market. IDC, specifically, cited Windows 8, Microsoft's new computer and tablet operating system, as one of the main reasons people turned away from buying computers.
That's certainly a possibility, but one possibility out of a few others. Here are five possibilities of why the PC business is hurting so badly right now. Feel free to let us know in the comments which one you believe is the biggest contributor to the dying PC.
1. The iPad and other tablets are eating into the PC market.
Post-PC world is right. And Steve Jobs might have been right too -- PCs are like trucks, and tablets are like cars. The late Apple CEO said that PCs were like trucks that were used when the U.S. was an agrarian nation and we needed trucks to get around. Then cars took over. "They're still going to be around, they're still going to have a lot of value, but they're going to be used by one out of X people," Jobs said about PCs.
Many argue that tablets, or more specifically the iPad, have started to fulfill the tasks of those truck PCs. The result is that those tablets are eating into what used to be the PC's lunch.
2. Windows 8 is a confusing, unfamiliar and scary place.
IDC cites Windows 8 as the main reason for the decline. "At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays, said in a statement. Microsoft launched Windows 8 on Oct. 26.
Of course, you can see how Windows 8 is related to the first point. Windows 8 was Microsoft's answer to the iPad. The software was designed to run on all types of computers, including tablets, laptops, desktops and all sorts of tablet / laptop hybrids. It was supposed to be about "no-compromises." But Windows 8, IDC and others have said, was confusing for people and wasn't a great solution for laptops and other computers. (The IDC numbers don't include Windows 8 tablets or tablet-hybrid devices; it just focuses on laptops and desktops.) IDC cites that people are put off by the changes to the interface and the removal of the familiar Start button.
3. Windows 8 hardware is flawed.
There's the Windows 8 software and then there is the hardware that came out with it. Some experts argue that Windows 8's no-compromise software features led to very compromised and uninteresting hardware designs.
"We got a flood of almost the same exact laptops these companies have been selling for years, just with touch screen bolted onto some of them, plus some awkward attempts to merge a laptop and tablet," Dan Ackerman, a senior editor at CNET, told ABC News. "But that attempt at a no-compromise experience led to hybrid devices that were either second-rate tablets, second-rate laptops, or both. It felt like there wasn't enough usability testing done on a lot of these touchscreen Windows devices."
Some industry experts say Intel's forthcoming chip called Haswell, which promises better performance and good battery life at the same time, will improve that. But ultimately, Ackerman feels there just wasn't a "must-have" Windows 8 product because of an assortment of hardware limitations.