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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

The Desktop Software Market is Far From Dead

All the cool kids, the new guys on the block, are designing for tablets and smart phones, or building web services. None of these new startups are building new PC products.

I've just finished a 6 month contract working for a big financial services software company, and in that time, I never saw a single person in the office use a tablet. Neither did I see anybody use any of the 'cool' web service offerings for business use -- no google docs, drive, gmail; no dropbox, nothing. The only exception was the R&D team who use Google's Dev Http Client for testing rest functionality of products under development.

Every worker uses desktop PCs or lap tops, or both. No Apple, no tablets, no smart phones. Every worker is using the latest in desktop products: latest Office, Lync, Visual Studio, etc. This is a modern, cutting edge, multi-national, and very successful software company.

This was an eye opener for me, as prior to this contract I'd spent a number of years building my own products, and I'd almost fallen for the 'desktop software market is dead' nonsense.

I now believe that there is huge opportunity for modern PC based products. The new competition (for the most part) are off wearing hoodies and trying to build photo sharing websites, with a view to getting bought out. They're simply not building desktop products any more, but desktops are not going away, not for business users at least -- and that's always been where the money was.

I'm interested in hearing any thoughts people have on this.
Marlee Ammon Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Windows still has 80% or so of the marketshare.

And our current products are all PC based. But I will say that the % of *new* computers being purchased that are Windows is probably much much lower (guessing at 50%)

And people buying a new computer seem much more likely to go out and look for new software.

Remember, though, averages don't tell you much about a particular niche. In our niche, touch screens are very attractive (this is for older, brain impaired adults).
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
It's quite difficult to figure out what is going on in the PC market or where it's heading. My philosophy on this is to just watch what my customers are saying and probably more importantly what they are buying.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
"The new competition (for the most part) are off wearing hoodies and trying to build photo sharing websites, with a view to getting bought out."

On this subject I've always though you are much better working on something dull and doing it very well. There are areas with weak competition but plenty of prospects.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Shhhhh! Don't tell everyone!...
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
>this is for older, brain impaired adults

I should point out the Mr Analogy's software is for people debilitated by strokes. I'm pretty sure he isn't implying that all older adults are brain impaired!
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
"Every worker uses desktop PCs or lap tops, or both. No Apple, no tablets, no smart phones."

These workers don't represent anything - those are the people making stuff, not using stuff. Of course nobody uses ipad for banging c++ code. But ask those workers what their customers are using to use their software and you will realize that the cheese was indeed moved..

I've got a very old (and conservative) customer in agriculture automation business, - in a past few years majority of their front ends moved into browsers, smartphones and tablets. Sure there are PC developers busy (even busier with server sides), but their customers demand non-PC, mobile front ends, zero installation, access-everywhere. Why? Because common people hated and will hate PC's and they will wipe them out of common use eventually. Or make them morph into something they can use without wanting to kill someone in rage when it doesn't.

Take my own home, the entire family dumped laptops ever since the ipads came around. Pretty common family actually, try to extrapolate.. Don't get stuck with developers, they are minority unless, of course, you are writing for developers.
Dima Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
"the cheese was indeed moved.. "
Give it 10 years and the cheese will be back in the same place again.  Which is pen and paper for reading and writing data on the go. 

"Don't get stuck with developers, they are minority unless, of course, you are writing for developers"
Which is true, but in the Internet Age, everyone is part of a minority tribe.  At least developers still spend a little bit of money on tools of the trade.

"common people hated and will hate PC's and they will wipe them out of common use eventually"
And replace them with what?  The form factor doesn't make the medium, or the function.  Common people don't "tablet" or "touchscreen"  they use computing devices for communication, data storage and data retrieval.  They use all kinds of devices with electronics inside that use computing devices, but common people use the interface of the device itself, not the interface of the embedded computing device.  The interface doesn't make the medium or the function either.  Did common people hate hammers because they hated the handles?
Howard Ness Send private email
Sunday, June 23, 2013
It's all about creation vs consumption.

If your software's target audience are content consumers you better get a tablet/mobile version ready. Tablets are superb content consumption devices.

But if your target market are creators (most preferably professionals) the desktop still reigns supreme. Yes, you can dick around on a tablet with photo manipulation but any serious photographer will at the end of the day still fire up that "antiquated" desktop version of Photoshop. The same for music producers, writers, developers - or even your average office worker.

No real work gets done on tablets.
Jeremy Morassi Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
"Did common people hate hammers because they hated the handles"

Hammers never were in such need as computing power these days. Living in a cave you could probably always find yourself some other occupation other than hammering things... go berry gathering, fishing, child nourishing, or whatever.

Try to survive today without so called "hammer" called computing device. You won't collect any berries, won't catch any fish and ruin your child's future without it. So, what happens is people bend and stretch this tool to fit themselves.. And when you bend, it eventually breaks . This, I think, is what happened to PC market of common people. And because there are so many common people out there, including myself in this respect, the cheese is simply moved elsewhere. I will never need a supersonic laptop or full blown desktop for 99% of things I do out of work. But you are right, - we never know where the bloody cheese will be moved next time they stretch and bend. May be one day there will be a huge come back :)
Dima Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
I love programming for the desktop (by which I assume we mean native application running on the client PC). The problem is general public is very reluctant to install new software on their desktop.
codingreal Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
This release from Gartner puts it in perspective.
PC sales are declining, but they still sold 90M of them in Q4 2012.
Apple share is growing, but Windows still has +85% plus share.

No, the pc market isn't dead at all. It just that now people have more choice. They're consuming media more on their tablets, and shifting some spending to new tablet devices, while the old PC from 5 years ago is still really quite useful and doesn't need to be replaced.

It's not smart to ignore tablets altogether, but it's probably even less smart to jump out of a market that's still gigantic and still profitable.
Darren Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
Whoops. Here's the link to the Gartner release... http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2301715
Darren Send private email
Monday, June 24, 2013
The trend is that more and more creators use their PCs to create content optimized for consumption on tablets and the like.

If so, the market for PC software that enables/aids/simplifies/optimizes the creation of content for consumption on tablets must be growing like crazy.
Dmitry Leskov @Home Send private email
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
One thing of note is the Note.

The Samsung Note/Note II

I think "phablets", i.e. phones the size of small tablets, are going to do increasingly well. The older generations simply find the bigger screen easier to look at, bigger fingers aren't a problem, they're easily big enough for sharing video clips or photos and now powerful enough for basic on-the-go productivity.

I got the Note II the other day, liking it a lot so far and I'm glad I never got around to buying a tablet, because I can't see I'd have much use for one now that I have this. I certainly wouldn't want to lug a 10" iPad around when I already have a 6" tablet in my pocket.

As a marketer/ writer rather than a developer my hint is this - design for 5 to 7 inch screens.

Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
A few thoughts...

It's important to remember that the loudest messenger of the message that "the PC is dead!" is the media, organizations which benefit from fueling hype, whether or not said hype turns out to be true later.  They are wrong far more often than they're right. Think about it.

Another big group hyping the concept through communication and also via where they put their money is the venture capital community. Other than the media, this is probably the next best group at missing and mis-judging industry trends. Think about all the past technologies the VC community has gone crazy for and how many of those trend bets failed. Another group that has a poor record of predicting the future.

One key reason why PC sales are down has to do with consumer's hesitation re: the forced upgrade to Windows 8. How many people do you know who are comfortable with the idea of upgrading to Windows 8? I wouldn't discount the impact of that fear. However, Windows 8 will likely become more accepted as time goes on.

Keep in mind that oftentimes industries decline a little and then stabilize. Mature industries don't necessarily grow endlessly. That doesn't mean they're unhealthy or dying. As the other poster mentioned, look around your office environment and notice what device the vast majority of staff use to do productivity work. And notice from what type of device the high-quality, productivity software they use gets purchased. Good chance it wasn't bought for $1.99.

Dan from FastSpring E-Commerce Send private email
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Another reason for sales being down is that existing systems could be working just fine.

Microsoft can push their later versions of Windows all they like, and if someone does not need anything different, the person is likely to stay with the older stuff the works and does not cost anymore.

Newer versions can break things, too.  I have a Windows 7 box on my desk along with my XP box.  I have utilities that do not work on the Window 7 box because they are 16-bit.  I have been using them for years, and they work just fine.  I do not want to have to rewrite them.  (Yes, I could use XP Mode, but it was awkward and somehow, the next time I went to use it, the configuration had been thrown away.  On my laptop, XP Mode will not run because XP Mode only runs on some versions of Windows 7.)

I wrote of this recently in my blog: http://genew.ca/2013/06/19/scared-of-change-ha/


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I think Chrome native client or things like it will be a trend in the future. It is not ready for prime time yet but it will be at some point.
codingreal Send private email
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
I suspect when developers talk about this they can often be strongly influenced by what technologies they're most experienced in. If you know php & JS best everything looks like a web-app. If you've been doing c++ and nothing else for the past 20 years you'll tend to prefer the desktop. I believe the truth is it's horses for courses and will continue to be.

A specific application is often well suited to being in the desktop or in the browser just like they're often suited to being pay once or pay monthly - I try not to draw generalisations beyond that.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Another key reason PC sales have slowed is that PC hardware just doesn't need to be refreshed as often as it did previously. PC hardware can run a good 6 or 7 years now and still perform okay with the latest software. Also, almost everyone has a PC (desktop or laptop) now, which means there are very few new buyers of PCs. People just don't need to buy new PCs as often now.
Dan from FastSpring E-Commerce Send private email
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
+1 to Dan's comments.  I've just gone through the process of buying a new PC.  The old one it's going to replace is two years old and working just fine.  It still runs everything I throw at it, including some more recent games at the highest graphic levels.  I remember in the late 1990's you basically needed a new PC for every seasonal round of new game releases.  Not so any more.

I wouldn't have bothered if it hadn't been the end of the financial year and I have a habit of getting a new pc every couple of years.
Mark Nemtsas Send private email
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I can attest the software market is far from dead! Here a link of the revenues of our last fiscal year 2011-2012:


We're just about to complete our most recent fiscal year, 2012-2013, and I can tell you we've already beaten the previous year.

I think SaaS solutions are good for a number of situations but they aren't good for everything. I even went so far as to write a couple of articles about it at (the first is a follow-up to the second):



The problem is that most people don't realize the potential risks. They are great for non-critical data, or data that can easily be transitioned to another service. But if not, then you could be asking for trouble. I've been burned more than once by SaaS going under, disappearing, changing business models, etc. It can be very painful when it happens, especially if you invested a lot of time or money in them, or worse both!
Stephane Grenier Send private email
Friday, June 28, 2013
We need to consider the possibility that markets are growing and not necessarily only eating into each other. Take Google Glass for instance. This will not replace the PC. It could however replace some of the things we did on the PC. It certainly will replace a lot of things that tablets do for us.

So PC's will always have their purpose and there is no doubt that other tools, like tablets and phones can do some of the jobs better. The question we need to ask when developing for the desktop software market is: Is the PC the best tool for using the software we are developing?

In my opinion, the limited resources capable of doing software development, cannot keep up with the speed of technology. Think of the demand that the web, or tablets, or smart phones has put on development resources. I think this is opening up a huge opportunity for desktop software entrepreneurs.
Barney Buchan Send private email
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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