Will China's education reforms impact the PC industry?
3 September 2021
The pandemic has changed the world in myriad ways. Who would have predicted that working from home would so quickly become the norm? Or that face-to-face interactions wouldn’t be needed to close deals, conduct tests or even volunteer for a good cause? Nearly every company or establishment around the world is now altering its policies and regulations to ensure that its employees or patrons can be happy and productive despite the ever-changing social situation.
These consumer shifts have been reflected in the PC industry. The past year’s phenomenal PC boom was unprecedented. Enterprises that have historically relied on fixed desktops for employees and premium office infrastructure are now focusing on hotdesking, portable workstations or multiple PCs per person.
Better screens, dedicated mute and microphone keys, stronger gaming specs, portable desktops, higher processing power, improved graphics and enhanced webcams are just some of the features the pandemic has brought to the forefront. These shifts are also forcing vendors and the channel to create products and solutions that best suit these unforeseen circumstances and changing requirements.
Furthermore, the PC industry is now catering to Generation Z along with millennials, whose expectations are very distinct. Generation Z especially relies on a wide range of information before purchases and expects companies to demonstrate their commitment to the environment, be it through limited plastic use or promoting the circular economy. As younger generations begin to make up more of the workforce, it is clear that traditional products, marketing and even purchasing options will need to be rethought.
The recent Next@Acer event gave a glimpse of the direction the industry is heading, particularly in addressing sustainability and environmental impact. Acer’s new Aspire Vero notebook series boasts a design that uses 30% post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic in its chassis, saving around 21% in CO2 emissions for its production. As part of its Earthion mission, which takes environmental factors into account at every stage of the product lifecycle, the company has also pledged to use 30% PCR plastic content in core products and achieve an 80% carbon reduction by 2050 compared to 2009. Beyond environmental concerns, Acer has also emphasized the importance of 5G-connected laptops to address the growth in remote work and even introduced antimicrobial coating on devices for the era of heightened germ sensitivity. In 2019, who would have imagined that this would be a feature vendors would focus on?
What are some promising future developments to look out for in the PC industry?
One development to pay attention to is the expected boom in cellular-enabled PCs, which let users experience the best of both the PC and smartphone worlds. The transformation of traditional PCs into mobile PCs, allowing people to connect, interact and compute from virtually anywhere without security concerns, will be a game-changer in coming years. This also serves as a viable option for developing countries where broadband is a luxury and cellular connectivity the norm. 5G deployments around the world will only positively affect and expedite this adoption. Telco operators also have room to innovate, both by making devices accessible to consumers and enterprises and by facilitating pricing models that best meet the needs of users and organizations.
Secondly, given the world’s current “immersive” trajectory, it should come as no surprise that virtual reality will majorly influence future technology and will play an indispensable part in modern lives. Though deemed the next big thing, people will still have to use personal computers, preferably with better graphics capabilities, to make the best use of the available technology for at least a few years to come, at least until VR headsets are intelligent and have highly capable specs that let them operate well as standalone devices.
The top companies have recognized this adoption gap and are now more focused on providing people with experiences that can be used cross-device without the use of additional devices. Microsoft, in its recent global event, addressed this by turning Teams into a VR/AR-enabled tool and unveiled its cross-device Mesh platform for AR, VR, mobile and PCs.
Thirdly, as the public becomes more accustomed to flexibility, there is a growing need for seamless interoperability across multiple devices. Apple’s ecosystem is a great example of the integration between devices providing a smooth user experience and helping to drive future purchases and use of services from the same customer over time. We have also seen Microsoft take steps in the right direction by allowing Android apps to run on Windows 11.
The next major upheaval in the PC space will almost certainly come from cloud computing, where people bypass the search for the best CPU or storage and rather pay on-demand for these features to avoid worrying about running short of processing power or ever-increasing data needs. This shift plays into the hands of ChromeOS, which has built its value proposition around this unique selling feature.
Last but not least is the “Create, Recycle, Recreate” motto that PC companies must adopt to address the environmental impact that their devices and business practices have on the world. The shift toward the circular economy is gaining even more traction, as the UN’s 2030 Sustainability Development Goals deadline approaches. To align with these goals, PC vendors and channel partners are actively reviewing their internal and external processes. Every PC company is also working toward greater promotion of the circular economy, which is a cornerstone in addressing broader global concerns and leaving a better world for future generations. Whether it’s through performance optimization of devices using AI, recyclable packaging, electronic waste reduction or moving toward renewable energy sources for production and distribution, the industry has come a long way in recent years.
There’s no doubt that the future will bring about a new paradigm that is focused on getting an individual to have a unified and seamless hybrid experience, with products designed to reimagine future workplaces and connectivity, and all with an eye on sustainability.