Thursday, April 11, 2013

Declining PC Sales and Document Capture

One of the biggest high tech stories of the past couple days seems to be this precipitous drop in PC sales, which IDC reported fell 14% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first three months of 2012. The most obvious reason for this is the increasing adoption of tablets and smartphones for computing that was formerly exclusively done on PCs. This reminds me of statement Visioneer President and COO John Capurso made to me a few weeks ago about mobile computers becoming the new PCs.  Looks like a very prescient thought right now.

I happened to be on the phone earlier with document capture software market industry analyst Harvey Spencer, and I asked him if he thought declining PC sales might affect document capture sales. He thought not very much.

We initially conjectured that it might negatively impact document scanner sales, but concluded that might not be the case either, as most current PCs have enough horsepower to run whatever  document scanner a user would need to run anyhow. Spencer added people are already doing more scanning on MFPs than ever before, and that this indeed may be having a negative affect on document scanner sales, but if people are going to buy a document scanner, they don't necessarily need a new PC to run one anymore.

Spencer added that he felt the increase in cloud computing may be negatively impacting PC sales as "users no longer need more powerful PCs to run new applications; they can now license the latest version of Office, for example, on the cloud." This is an interesting dichotomy, as Windows 8 was supposed to drive more PC sales, but Microsoft's latest version of Office would appear to be working in the opposite direction.

Spencer concluded that he expects cloud deployments will begin to have an effect on document capture revenue this year, with some large implementations being purchased through a subscription model rather than a traditional capital expenditure. Not a major impact yet, but the beginning of a trend that bears watching.

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