At least, any time soon. The specific terms of the bet are, "In some quarter of 2015, the unit sales of tablets will be at least twice the unit sales of traditional PCs, in the USA." Loser donates $100 USD to the charity of the winner's choice.
How did I get to this point? About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog post for CACM, "Who needs a tablet?"
The purposely inflammatory title overstates the main point, which is that rather than replace PCs, people are mostly buying tablets in addition to their PC ( ).
Even so, predictions in the article have already proven wrong. Tablet sales did not "stall around the same level where netbook sales stalled". Netbook sales peaked and stalled around 40M units/year worldwide ( ). Tablet sales passed 60M units/year worldwide in 2011 and are projected to be twice that this year.
So, tablets show no sign of stalling where netbooks did, but they are still being bought in addition to, not in replacement of, PCs. While many are taking some of the time they would have spent on their PC and spending it on their mobile or tablet instead, they still own and spend time on a laptop or PC.
This bet doesn't quite say what I want to say. What I want to say is that PCs aren't going away any time soon. They definitely are not going away by the end of 2015. Eventually, yes, but the change is not going to happen in less than three years.
What the bet actually says is more about how fast people in the US will buy new tablets in 2015 compared to replacing PCs. Projections I've seen put PC unit sales in the US around 16M units/quarter and mostly flat through 2015, tablet unit sales currently at 7M/quarter in the US and growing rapidly (projections vary from 10-16M/quarter by 2016). Seems unlikely that the projections would be that far off, so I took the bet.
But the more interesting questions are:
- What will it take to get people to stop using PCs?
- Will the tablet market continue to be dominated by expensive devices (like the $600 iPad) or convert almost entirely to low priced tablets (currently $200 with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, but probably soon around $100)?
- Will anything coming in the next five years, including tablets, get people to stop buying and using PCs entirely? Or will people continue to buy and use multiple computing devices?