Don’t write off the iPad; devices like it and the iPhone are replacing the personal computers for many millennials

Sales may have plummeted, but don’t write off the iPad. Tim Cook’s assertion that the iPad Pro is Apple’s vision of the future of personal computing is a bit forward-looking, but it may be accurate — at least to a point. 

According to new data from comScore, which “measures the digital world,” computer use is dropping off quickly as mobile devices encourage new types of interaction. In fact, many younger folks don’t use computers at all, instead relying entirely upon their smartphones or tablets.

The conventional wisdom has been that desktop/laptop usage would level off or grow at a slower rate in the face of mobile device adoption. However, the trends aren’t following that model. The data gathered by comScore — as noted by PC Mag — points to substantial year-over-year drops in desktop usage. In December 2015, desktop Internet use was down 9.5% compared with the previous year. In January 2016 it was down 7.6%. February and March of this year were better at 2% and 6% down, but the trend looks to be continuing. 

Note: this doesn’t seem to apply to the Mac. Defying the odds, Macs have gained global market share for 35 out of the last 36 quarters.

In addition to the comScore data, The Wall Street Journal notes that it saw desktop traffic peak back in March of 2015 (567 billion total minutes of desktop web usage). Since then, the trend has been negative. At the same time, mobile use is up with more than one trillion total minutes of activity last month. comScore’s report estimates that mobile accounts for 65% of digital media time, and apps make up 56% of it. In fact, one in five millennials (those between the ages of 18 and 34) don’t even use desktops/laptops anymore.

Of course, traditional personal computers are hardly in danger of extinction. They’re essential for “power users” and many business users. And if virtual reality apps/hardware catch on, we’ll need traditional computers with even more powerful graphics chips to make advantage of the technology.