We now know exactly when 'peak PC' happened

Once upon a time, the only way to get online and run apps was with a personal computer — a box with a keyboard and mouse or trackpad. Most of those computers ran Microsoft Windows. That old definition of a “computer” is outdated. Most computing these days is done on phones, or on computers with touch screens and simpler but less sophisticated operating systems from Apple (iOS) and Google (Android or Chrome).

But how outdated? This chart from Statista, based on the latest quarterly global sales data from Gartner, shows that the PC market peaked almost exactly five years ago — in Q3 2011. (Gartner excludes iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks from its measurements.)

This is why Microsoft has been placing so much emphasis on cloud services and other new areas like artificial intelligence. Windows still earns billions of dollars for Microsoft every quarter, but CEO Satya Nadella and other leaders are well aware of this chart, and it looks increasingly doubtful that the PC market will ever come back to its peak.

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