Mobile devices set to outnumber humans as PC sales plummet

IpadsOne of the sure fire ways to judge what is about to happen to the world’s workplaces is to watch what people are doing with their gadgets. So as two surveys are published that show the dramatic decline in the numbers of PCs being sold around the world, a report from Cisco has forecast that by the end of this year, the number of mobile devices in operation globally will exceed the human population for the first time. Of course, that could only be possible if everybody was carrying around a number of mobile gadgets and, sure enough, a related survey from Juniper Networks shows that the average person surveyed now uses five devices at home and at work with at least three connected to the Internet.

Meanwhile, our reliance on the PC has fallen dramatically in a very short space of time. Last week Gartner reported that sales of PCs had fallen to their lowest level since 2009 and had fallen by a little over 11 per cent year on year, mirroring similar results from researchers at IDC who said sales were down 14 per cent year on year.

The Cisco report also highlights how the growing use of 4G networks on mobile devices will help to accelerate the total global volume of information exchanged on mobile from under 1 exabyte a month last year to over 11 exabytes a month by 2017. If you want to envisage how much an exabyte is, think of a lot, then add a lot more. An exabyte is 1018 bytes.

The shift away from PCs towards more mobile devices is perhaps a sign that people are happy with the lower functionality of mobile devices which they see as perfectly adequate, so is also a sign that adding functionality to PCs may not increase sales as it has in the past, but is also evidence of the shift towards more mobile forms of working. The Cisco report found that 40 per cent of respondents already prefer working on an iPad or iPhone and also predicts that by 2017, 84 per cent of mobile data traffic will be handled by The Cloud.