Android devices will outnumber Windows PCs by 2016, Microsoft looks for a clean pair of shorts

Android devices will outnumber Windows PCs by 2016, Microsoft looks for a clean pair of shorts
In case you’ve ever wondered why Microsoft is hell-bent on making Windows Phone successful, regardless of cost, International Data Corporations lays it out pretty starkly: by 2016 there will be more Android devices than traditional Windows PCs. IDC combined their tracking and forecasts for PCs, mobile phones, and tablets to generate the data, which they released today.

That’s not just a loss of licensing revenue to Microsoft – think of how that sort of market share change will impact gaming, search engine competitiveness, software distribution, advertising revenue, etc. How many people will continue to use Microsoft’s other products if Android devices are in more common use by then? We imagine we will see an Office suite released for Android (and iOS) before 2016, but will the Office brand have the same clout if it’s not being bolstered by Windows? Would an Xbox app appeal to enough people if most gaming takes place on Apple and Google’s platforms?

Looking at the chart at right you can see that mobile devices already outsell PCs. Yet in a few short years a single mobile platform will exceed the size of traditional Windows devices. That's why mobile is so important to Microsoft; they need to grab a bigger portion of that growing red bar!

Microsoft is facing an existential crisis in the post-PC era. Not that we expect Microsoft would go out of business, but if they can’t disrupt Android and iOS's trajectory they could be forced to exit the consumer market, becoming more of a business solutions provider. And they would certainly have to make do with significantly smaller piles of cash. The success (or failure) of Windows Phone handsets and Windows 8 tablets may truly tell us whether Microsoft has a significant role to play in the coming decade of consumer technology, or whether they missed the bus by not reacting to the iPhone and Android threat in a timely manner.

source: IDC via TechCrunch



31. freestaterocker

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 31, 2012

Microsoft makes $10-15 in patent royalties on almost EVERY Android handset made. Based on activations, that's somewhere around 3.5 billion dollars annually. I think they'll manage.

28. iWallE

Posts: 48; Member since: Oct 10, 2011

I have noticed that in recent years there is a tendency of trading off power and high quality for efficiency and convenience. When mp3s first became really popular many voices were raised about their poorer quality compared to CDs. But still mp3s became the norm because they were much more convenient to use - from buying to carrying around on all possible devices. And with time they improved and are still improving so eventually they will reach CD sound quality or as near as makes no difference. In the same way people sacrificed long battery life (and in some cases better call quality) when they changed their old faithful feature phones for a smartphone that can do it all. And now smartphone makers are trying to bring battery life back to what we used to have with feature phones. There are many other examples following the same principles. Features that are overkill for the majority of users are sacrificed in exchange for better accessibility and ease of use. Eventually the more inconvenient but high-quality features occupy a small specialized niche, leaving the mainstream to a more streamlined user experience. Several years ago I was a convinced hater of e-books and thought I'd forever stick to the familiar paper body. But now I find myself reading on my smartphone (and sometimes PC) ever more frequently. And this change of mind happened so imperceptibly I only realized it last month when I found myself angry over the fact I couldn't find a book I wanted to read in both Amazon and Aldiko, so I had to go look for a paper version in some local bookstores. Until recently I was usually slow to embrace change in most aspects of life. I defended specialized devices against multipurpose ones and opposed to sacrificing quality for UX. But at some point I found that progress reqires sacrifices. In 10 years we'll probably carry pocket devices more powerful than PCs but in order for that to happen we as users must embrace change even if at first it comes at the expense of resolution, bitrate, memory or something else. Microsoft has really stood in one place for too long and for this they deserve to be dethroned as OS king. All the better if this danger spurs their creative impulse.

27. JSern

Posts: 282; Member since: May 22, 2011


22. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

There is no doubt that WP8 - more for Tablets than Smartphones- is the most important roll out for Microsoft since.... well, Microsoft rolled out, I guess. Now, MS is not like RIM, but an analogy could be drawn- They put their faith in one type of product for so long, when they finally sat up from where they had buried their heads in the sand, they saw they were behind. Difference is, MS still has the resources to change, and has tons more cash flow coming in than RIM does. Also, MS wasn't afraid to pull the trigger on change and roll the dice on something new, they were just late doing it. Now, I don't think anybody thinks the PC or the Laptop will be completely gone, but like the telephone hanging on peoples walls, DVDs/CDs/Books in the face of portable players and Blockbuster Video in the face of Netflicks there is reason to have a sense of urgency. But I do think these type of debates are a tad silly. We are sitting in the beginning of 2012, trying to gauge what 2016 will look like when tech moves so fast we really do not know what new idea or innovation will change everything and when. Any guesses for any company past mid-next year, I usually just ignore. I think MS will still be a giant, they just may have to reinvent themselves. Much like Google, Apple, Texas Instruments, Sony, and the other really foreward thinking companies, they will do what needs to be done for long term survival.

21. christianqwerty

Posts: 467; Member since: May 05, 2011

Apple and microsoft team up vs google?


Posts: 535; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Smart-phones will dominate! Collateral damage.

17. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1778; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Until I can play WoW on my phone, I still need a PC lol

18. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

at this point, your more limited by screen size and data caps, than the device itself. The new batch of A15 chips that are slated later this year and early 2013 have enough power to throw down some WoW with ease

16. strikercho

Posts: 156; Member since: Mar 20, 2012

IDC? Woooah, well done, phonearena! I recommend you to use Tanzania Data Corporation next time. They are just as famous as IDC... Fail!

15. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

I love having a PC personally and it will never truly be replaced. That said, I am excited about the possibilities given with Smartphones and Tablets and they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Microsoft and other PC centric companies will need to learn to adapt to the changing marketplace if they want to be a part of it.

9. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

The chart basically shows smart phone users going up which is a no brainer. but PC use or sales essentially staying the same. Of course stagnant sales are not good. A smartphone can't hold a drop of water to a PC. If you need a PC then your only option is a desktop or laptop, possible a tablet. Phones can do many things and are becoming more useful yes, but no comparison to a PC.

11. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

Unless wireless docking becomes the norm, in which case at a certain point your phone literally does everything, anywhere there is a screen. Sure, you could design a version of Photoshop that required more power than the smartphones of 2016 or whenever, but most people don't need more editing power then they have on their smartphones now.

14. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

within 2 - 3 more chip generations, mobile devices will be almost as strong as PCs in most everything. An easy "get rid of PC" solution, is just take your PC box, get rid of it, and place an adapter for your cellphone, so it automatically links in to the mouse/keyboard, monitor and what ever else. Instant PC for the bulk of the "light users" in the world. in 2 or 3 more cell phone generations u will be playing Battlefield from your phone in high quality. PC's probably wont go away for years, if at all, but they are changing, and the definition of a PC is going to evolve.

7. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Wow, all I have to say is wow. Android is just mammoth! To actually topple Microsoft PC’s is just plain old staggering. It just cements the fact that EVERYTHING is going mobile. Basically in the future the smartphone will be the #1 computer & desktops will complement the smartphone or will be used in conjunction with the samrtphone. In essence everything will revolve around the smartphone. Wow how the tables have turned. Smartphone killed the PC star!

5. eman99

Posts: 410; Member since: Aug 03, 2010

they should merge or at least let android be a main factor in the pc world

3. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

If Microsoft is smart (queue the laughter) they will start creating apps for android and apple phones - xbox live would be nice for Android phones....maybe even a mini Halo game, too.

10. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

I agree that this would be a smart move. And as we saw with the rumored iOS Office app, they may be exploring it. But I think they are still holding out hope that they can win big and continue to control the platform. It's a big gamble, because other apps are establishing themselves now on iOS and Android, so waiting another year or two may prove to be too long. Unless of course Windows Phone and Windows 8 end up winning...

13. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

bah, its never too late. its not like the race will be over in 2 years. If windows8 phone fails, im sure we will see a lot of MS cross liscensing of games/apps. I dont think W8P is going to fail though. I think its going to be a huge success. People forget how smart MS has been about the whole Metro UI integration. Its on your phone, your Xbox, soon your PC, tablets, im sure it will work into car sytems like ford Sync, and whatever else. The uniform look of all MS products will breed more people familiar with the OS before they ever go look at a smartphone... which is going to increase their sales exponentially. Think of the way Apple's devices share similar design language and features make it a hop skip to buy an iphone.. then a ipad.. than a mac... but on MS's much more grand scale. In 2 years, you are going to have to go out of your way not to use Metro UI somewhere in your daily life. The cell phone battle is going to be between android and WP8, iOS is going to take 3rd place by a good margin unless something drastically changes.

20. Scott_H

Posts: 167; Member since: Oct 28, 2011

I understand what Microsoft's strategy is with Metro - and if they can convince lots of PC owners to buy a Windows 8 tablet instead of an iPad or an Android tablet they'll be in good shape. But if WP8 and Windows 8 fails to catch on, they will be screwed. Not that I disagree with the statement "its not like the race will be over in 2 years", but the race will no longer include Microsoft if they can't make headway in the next 24 months. At that point mobile ecosystems in the first world will be well past the 50% mark and have already reached saturation pricing. Apple, Android, and any other platform that can establish itself in the coming year (BB10?) will still be duking it out, but as ecosystems move towards commoditization the difficulty of entering a market increases non-linearly. Especially because the more time goes on, the more invested you are in the existing ecosystems. And this lock-in is even stronger in mobile, because you get all of your apps for free on other devices in the ecosystem, but no one offers cross-platform licenses. I agree that Microsoft has been very smart about their Metro strategy - but they are also incredibly tardy with it. Windows Phone is an excellent OS, and their dual-use tablet strategy is actually more ground-breaking than many want to credit them for. But their failure to see the paradigm shift coming five years ago, and their initial reluctance to scrap Windows Mobile means that they have to be better than "really good" to convince consumers to invest in WP7. They seem to be having some success in Europe (albeit limited), but they have yet to show they can entice U.S. customers.

29. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

"Especially because the more time goes on, the more invested you are in the existing ecosystems. " That is absolutely true. But you are forgetting something. Most Americans are ALREADY invested in MS's ecosystem. More so than any other brand. Have a PC? Xbox? Zune?(ok, no one has that, Ford with Sync? WP7 device? Use Office products? Hotmail? MS is doing the opposite of Apple. Apple has a very small slice of every market thats not an iphone/ they are using ipod and iphone to push people to buy computers and other apple devices. MS has the lions share of Gaming, PC and PC software suite but nearly no phone presence. They are using everything else to push WP7 by making the Metro UI the standard MS interface on everything. When you have some phone illiterate person walk into a store to choose a device, they are going to chose something familiar. If they happen to have an Xbox or use a PC, the WP7/8 interface is going to be an immediate draw and a very likely purchase. I'm already starting to see that... especially with the older adults (ease of use) and the teens that game a lot (looks like XBL). MS is in zero danger of failing on their product line ups any time soon. Vista was a "failure" and it still brought them billions. They didnt collapse.. nothing happened. They didnt make money on the original Xbox at all.. in fact they sold them at a loss for most of its life an the gaming department didnt go positive until like a year after the 360 came out. Now it makes them billions. MS takes the long and slow route. They dont push for fads. They push for long term viability. Their WP7 plan isnt a 1-2 year plan, its a 5 year+ plan. WP7 will continue to rise in ranks until Windows 8 is released on PC. Give it a year from that, and Windows phone will take off like a mad hatter because everyone will be very used to the system. The Xbox UI updates are already helping push that fact. The old windows devices were not taken nearly as seriouly as WP7. It was just slapped on anything without thought, which is obviously the opposite of their new strategy. Add in the fact that dual cores and other things are coming and anyone that thinks WP7 will fail is very mistaken.

25. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

I agree with you dood... IF WP8 on tablets and PC's does not reverse the trend. Actually, it would be smart to provide XBOX live apps and connections and Office for Android, period. But, I am betting they need those to be a selling point for their products. I bet we see those come down the road at some point simply due to the money it could provide them.

2. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Gee, let's see, which should I choose: Google Docs, which takes care of my basic word processing/office needs for free, OR Quick/Open Office, which is 15 bucks for a full license (with full compatibility with Office documents) OR Microsoft Office, which STARTS at 120 bucks and goes as high as-Jesus Christ on a pogo stick!-THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BUCKS?!?!

4. ilia1986 unregistered

Lol don't actually tell me you're PAYING for MS products.. I never do :) That said, MS office is a very very good product. Very pricey if you pay for it - but still very good. This is especially evident if you are an advanced user and need the full suite of excel functions.

6. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

lol, fair enough. I can't say I never pirate programs (There is absolutely no f**kING way Photoshop CS ANYTHING is worth more than my first car!) but if there's a legal option which is cheaper, I'll take it, which was my point.

8. ilia1986 unregistered

Definitely. Btw even though I hate Apple, I gotta admit that iWork (at least for iOS afaik) is just bloody brilliant given the hardware limitations.

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

i get student discounts. Got windows7 home premium for 30 bux on sale and got office full for like 70. I used to pirate them a lot more when they were ungodly expensive. yea.. why is photoshop so expensive???? lolz

23. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Buisnesses do pay top premium for Microsoft products, and by the ton. Part of the reason MS can afford to try and reinvent on the fly. I like MS tools, a lot. I can't afford their prices, and will only use what I can get my grubby little hands on. But, I would spend money on what I need if it performed more than free stuff and I had to have it. I am actually betting the other direction: Google at some point tries a "Google Docs" premium at a small price that does more than it's basic and sees more cash come in. Not being stupid, they slowly bump up from there. I haven't used Google Documents much, but it seems like a good product. No doubt they could get some coin and still provide top notch free options.

26. Henrik

Posts: 141; Member since: Feb 18, 2012

How about Microsoft Office 365 (Word, Excel, Outlook etc online)? Beats Google Docs/Apps ANY DAY OF THE WEEK, and has been proven to do so for a long time. Google is a newb in the office productivity race. Office 365 is yours for like $5 a month. All in the cloud, accessible anywhere with Internet. The professionals choice ;-) Here ya go Check the comparison between the same Word document live in Google Docs vs Word Web App.

1. the_s2

Posts: 239; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Yeah sure they will, consider there's an android out there for everyone, for every budget!

24. snowgator

Posts: 3629; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Which is something WP doesn't have and needs. They need diferent price points, form factors, "Pro" style options aimed at business, better multi-media devices. The "Tango" line for developing nations and the pre-paid markets is a start, but Android has got such a ton of options, it ain't a fair fight.

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