OPINION: Apple is spearheading the revival in personal computers

OPINION: Apple is spearheading the revival in personal computers
That the rise of smartphones has been the reason for the desuetude of myriad technology products is a fact unarguably accepted today. The exponential rate of innovation in making smartphones an inseparable companion for humans has incapacitated many other products once in demand. Products that could still manage to survive this tsunami have been pushed to a state of partial disability because of declining sales over the past decade. There was no hesitance from customers end to jettison all other products for smartphones.

A smartphone is a classic example of what Professor Clayton Christensen described in his book, Innovator’s Dilemma, as disruptive products, the products which are not necessarily better than the existing ones but, have certain unique advantages which places them in a better position in tradeoff with the incumbents. For example, the early digital cameras were way inferior in picture quality compared to film cameras, however, their compatibility with computers made them a sought after product. In a similar fashion, the first iPhone launched in 2007 was able to allure customers by highlighting the revolutionary combination or bundling of three different functionality in one product and diverting the attention of customers from judging the quality of each functionality separately.

In 2020, Joel M. Podolny and Morten T. Hansen elaborated in their article published in Harvard Business review, that how Apple as an organization is structured around innovation. Unlike the conventional approach of adopting a divisional structure when an organization grows in size and complexity, Apple chooses to remain functionally organized, which helped it in cross deployment and optimization of resources and talent. That is probably why Steve Jobs once told that Apple is the largest start-up in the world.

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Like all other related industries, smartphones have undoubtedly cannibalized sales of Personal Computers, which is evident from the progressively declining sales of PC for nearly a decade. Laptops, however, could survive because of their suitability for jobs that cannot be performed on a small screen with a virtual keyboard. So, the consumption behaviour of customers towards laptops remained largely non-compensatory against mobility benefits provided by smartphones and tablets.

The COVID 19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise so far for the PC makers. With new features in personal computers incorporated by most of the brands to make them relevant for today’s work compounded with the compulsion to work from home, PCs are coming back to life again. The PC makers are able to fathom what would it take to make them central to human lives for this time. They do not intend to elude but, confront and address the deficiencies that lead to the estrangement of PCs from their patrons.


Quite expectedly, Apple is playing a lead role again in this transformative journey of personal computers. With longer battery life, fractional power consumption and connectivity to a cellular network, it is rewriting the playbook again. A relentless pursuant of innovation and boldness to experiment with things has been profoundly rewarding for the company. Strategic vertical integration has been the DNA of Apple, which is palpable from the mastery it has attained in in-house chip design and development. The performance of Apple’s chip is something competitors are wary of. The burgeoning need for better communication devices for virtual team meetings, hybrid offices and remote workstations are pretty adventitious to Apple’s core competency, as it has been the pioneer in camera technology as well.

The magnitude of innovativeness, agility and planned opportunism is certainly central to Apple’s success. Though the connectivity of LTE and 5G to PCs is still a matter to be sorted out from the service providers end and not technically, even then, experts predict that the current upward movement of graph with respect to PC sales will continue in the time to come, as there is still a colossal unfulfilled demand in industries like education compounded with a growing need for personal devices than shared and shrinking life cycle of digital devices including PCs.

Disclaimer: Dr. Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee is the Associate Professor of Marketing at Alliance University Bangalore. Opinions expressed in this article are his own.

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