Splashtop CEO Mark Lee on how the PC is not going to die just yet

If you believe everything you read, the traditional desktop PC as we know it is not long for this earth.

Numbers continue to drop; last month Gartner and IDC reported that worldwide PC shipments have dropped by 11%, whilst in the UK this week, industry regulator Ofcom’s latest report revealed that smartphone and tablet penetration continues to rise at the behest of the desktop and laptop.

There’s continual dialogue of a ‘post-PC’ world, but the argument remains: how would people get on without their PC? Benjamin Robbins, of course, went a whole working year using only his mobile – and is still doing it, as this video for the Guardian testifies – but, as good as his experience was, there will still be scepticism.

Mark Lee, CEO and founder of mobilisation providers Splashtop, is a firm believer that the PC still has a place in today’s business.

“Mobile devices and tablets are still heavily much more consumption devices,” Lee tells Enterprise AppsTech in a call. “So we don’t see the PC going away any time soon in the corporate world.”

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way now: part of Splashtop’s portfolio does involve software which mobilises existing applications.  

Yet the company’s strategy is an interesting one. Splashtop’s arsenal is three-tiered, featuring a consumer based freemium product for remote access (although its iOS offering still charges), a business-centric product based around software as a service (SaaS), and enterprise based around on-premise.

Lee, however, predicts that the enterprise and business sides will converge in the future.

“Most of our 15 million users are actually paid users – it’s been paying our bills as a great platform in terms of consumer usage – but we believe the usage is moving towards businesses,” Lee says, adding: “The world will be increasingly cloud, SaaS-centric.”

The world is becoming more cloud-friendly, with the rise of BYOD another pivotal factor. Yet BYO PC has been around for a lot longer than bring your own device. Does that mean users who BYOD are more likely to BYO PC?

“It’s a pendulum, and people tend to go in extreme directions in terms of the market trend,” Lee adds. “300 million PCs are still being sold every year, so it’s still a very powerful trend.”

For advocates of a post-PC universe though, it may just be a question of semantics.

A report from NaviSite earlier this week revealed that two in five respondents (42%) saw employees as the group most likely to drive forward the need for virtual desktops. And as Lee explains, PCs should also factor in virtual desktops, be they VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) or DaaS (desktop as a service).

“Most of these desktops, whether they’re physical or virtual, [are] providing a very powerful foundation to deliver existing Windows applications to mobile devices,” he adds.

Lee is similarly optimistic as to Microsoft’s chances in the enterprise, although the difficult child that is Windows 8 has been hindering things. “Right now we see Windows 8 as a little bit of a challenge, in terms of it’s a new proposition for businesses, but I think Microsoft is going to give it another good try,” he adds.

It’s definitely worth noting Google’s ecosystem and services give the search giant a big competitive advantage, but it’s something Redmond is trying to corner too.

Lee notes: “It’s hard to see Microsoft, with Azure and Office365, not make a good run at the enterprise given how billions of dollars have been invested in the Microsoft platform.

“It’s going to be a three horse race, but our thinking is that we’re the bridge across these three devices.

“We want to enable anyone using any device; users can always enjoy whatever devices they choose to have, and IT can deploy to any screen, any endpoint leveraging our technology.”

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