Is the Thrill Gone for Tablet PCs?

In a new twist this year for PCs, findings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index indicate that desktops have gained favor with users to the point that tablets no longer hold sway over the beleaguered desktop. According to the ACSI’s recent study on customer satisfaction with personal computers, tablets overall edge back 1% to an ACSI score of 80, while desktops surge 3% to 81, a healthy improvement over a year ago. Laptops, however, trail behind both—down 4% to a much lower benchmark of 76.

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The ACSI results coincide with recent trends in the PC market—namely, a flattening in the decline of PC sales along with a slow down in tablet sales. Over several years, consumers poured money into tablets, but now the market is becoming saturated. Simultaneously, there has been an uptick in PC users who are entering the market to upgrade their older home desktops—some of whom were prompted by the end of  Windows XP support in April.

Part of the picture may be that high consumer expectations for mobile devices make it challenging for manufacturers to satisfy users. In contrast, buyers looking to refresh home PCs—perhaps replacing desktops that are three years old or more—are pleasantly surprised by the speed and power of new machines on the market. Higher desktop satisfaction this year could be reflecting a modest ‘wow’ factor among consumers re-entering the PC market.

With regard to laptops, before tablets came on the scene, laptops received higher user satisfaction ratings than desktops because back then, the laptop was the tablet. But now, the laptop is orphaned, falling in the middle between the traditional set-up of a desktop and the ‘carry-everywhere’ tablet. For the industry, the next wave could come from products that bridge the gap by marrying the functionality of the desktop with the ease of use and portability of the tablet.

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