Tablets and smartphones have doomed the desktop PC - even in the business, say CIOs

CIO Jury: 'It would seem unlikely that the PC will survive far beyond this decade'...

The desktop PC is in its twilight years, pushed into irrelevance by laptops, tablets and smartphones - even in its former stronghold of the enterprise, according to CIOs.

Doom-filled predictions about the - lack of - future for the desktop PC have been circulating for some time now. Mark Dean, one of the engineers who worked on the first IBM PC recently sparked debate about the coming post-PC era when he said: "When I helped design the PC, I didn't think I'd live long enough to witness its decline." Meanwhile, HP recently announced it is considering options for its own PC business, including selling or spinning it off.

Tablet and smartphone

A growing taste for smartphones and tablets has hurt desktop PC salesPhoto: Shutterstock

While some commentators have seen these developments as a reason to mourn the death of the PC or celebrate its demise, many believed the enterprise would remain the last bastion of the desktop PC.

But even here it is under threat, as's CIO Jury reveals.

When asked, 'In five year's time, will the desktop PC still be the dominant computing device for business users?' the CIO Jury voted no by a margin of eight to four.

Martin Shaw, director of IT at TDX Group, predicted the next 10 years will see a growing enterprise emphasis on mobile, rather than desktop, computing.

"It would seem unlikely that the PC will survive far beyond this decade. As mobile devices increase in sophistication and reduce in price, coupled with increased, cheaper, more accessible bandwidth then we will no doubt see the dominance of mobile platforms."

However, he added: "The key to all of this is data security and the need for a robust and compelling solution that finally enables users to push their data into the cloud, comfortable in the knowledge it is safe."

Mike Roberts, IT director at The London Clinic, also believes mobile computing is one of the chief threats to the continuing dominance of the desktop.

"The total cost of ownership of thin client and mobile apps will drive the normal PC out. The only need I have is for a big screen and keyboard on my desk," he said.

Stephen Potter, CIO at World-Check, agreed the rise of thin clients and mobile computing in the enterprise will come at the expense of the desktop: "Whilst there will be many desktop PCs in use in five years' time, enterprises will be dominated by a combination of various mobile devices... and thin clients for desk-bound workers," he said.

According to several CIOs, the tablet will be the...

By Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was th...