Is it a tablet? A notebook? A desktop?  No, that’s my phone… The lines in the PC market are blurring, as hybrid PC models are announced and await their release into a world that sees the PC market slumping.  We’re on the verge of unveiling Microsoft’s Windows 8, where both desktops and mobile devices offer touch capabilities.  PC makers are taking a hint from tablets and creating products that have the full functionality of a computer, but are looking more and more like their mobile counterparts.  So what is the difference and where is the line drawn?  The whole thing is getting really confusing, even for the experts.

But mobility is the name of the game.  Why not have your cake and eat it too?  That said, as the desktop analyst here at gap intelligence, I feel the need to, check that, I feel the responsibility to know the valid argument for the continuation of the desktop market.  Why should desktops exist if mobility is, in fact, the name of the game?

Well, let’s see… Let’s start with the strengths.  Desktops are known for their power and upgradability.  I think, personally, that desktops are trying to compete too much with everything that connects to the Internet, when that’s just not the way it’s going to be anymore.  It’s like your 40-year-old NFL QB *cough Brett Farve* trying too hard and going outside of his ability to keep his starting job versus the younger (and more mobile) Aaron Rodgers, way after his time has come and gone.  Sorry Brett, you’re not the main guy anymore.  But since you’re on the team, you do have an important role to play, and that is to be the backbone of this team, and help elevate the performance of Aaron, instead of competing with him.  Do what you are good at, and accept what you’re not.  Instead, “Brett” is trying to look the part of a young stud out of college, and it’s just sad.  Now I’m not knocking innovation, but you have got to stick to what you are good at.

Back to desktops.  Desktops are about power, upgradability, and user-friendliness, not flashing lights, and bells and whistles (leave that to the young bucks).  Where desktops are strong, they’ve sacrificed for where they are weak.  Instead, they continue to compete in the market where light-weight, flashy, and highly mobile devices play, and it just can’t keep up.  On top of that, by adding touchscreen capabilities, we’re going to increase the price of the home-bound device… Get back to your roots.  Be strong and reliable, and support the mobile devices, which could use some grounding… Literally.

So what does that look like, practically, for the desktop market?

1. Be the central hub of the household.  Allow mobile devices to connect to you and be their backup systems, doubling for the cloud that crashed a month or two ago.

2. Some way somehow, contribute to the usability of a mobile device.  Allow for easy sharing of resources, files, and memory.  Be the server of the household.

3. Some experts think consumers will refresh their mobile devices two or three times before they refresh upgrade their desktops.  Some people see this as a negative, while I see this as an opportunity.  When a consumer refreshes their mobile device, they want their new device to somewhat resemble their old device, in the way that it’s organized, the backgrounds, the apps, etc.  Desktops should and could be able to do that.

4. Desktops could benefit from revamped marketing, similar to Febreeze in 1993 after P&G realized customers cleaning habits, which resulted in the brand taking off.  Show customers when they should use their desktops versus their mobile devices.  For serious horsepower and tasks.

Lastly (to really drive the point home), I spent the weekend with my aunt and uncle in Las Vegas, Nevada.  My uncle has recently gotten on a gun buying frenzy!  The last time I was at his house, a year ago, he had three guns.  Now he has 12!!!  He has a couple hand guns, a pair of shotguns, and a number of rifles designed for different distances and circumstances.  I would say he is pretty well-prepared for any situation he finds himself in.  Similarly, with desktops, notebooks, and tablets, there is an ideal situation, use, and purpose for each device.  Customers just have to be educated on how, when, and which device they should use for each.  Sometimes it’s not the product that needs to be tweaked; it’s the customer’s way of thinking.