An Underappreciated Factor in the Decline of PC Sales: Solid-state Drives

hard_drive_backupAs soon as I started using SSDs, I suspected they would eventually have an impact on PC sales. I expressed as much in an email to the Daily Tech News Podcast which elicited a good discussion. If you’d rather just read the message, here you go:

While catching up on episodes, your recent discussion of the continued decline of PC sales brought to mind a theory of mine: I think one of the reasons PC sales might be declining are SSDs.

It used to be that when computers started to feel old, people would open up their weekly Best Buy insert, go over to, or start lamenting the expense of Macs. But what is it that makes computers feel old? Usually CPU contention, excessive swapping due to lack of RAM, and the aging of mechanical hard drives.

CPUs are plenty fast now, obscene amounts of RAM are cheap, and mechanical disks are being replaced with SSDs that don’t have most of the mechanical disadvantages of magnetic storage platters. In fact, you can take almost any computer built within the last five to seven years, and as long as it either has an SSD, or you put an SSD in it, it’s still a very usable machine. (Several of my old laptops are still in service thanks to fewer moving parts.)

Of course there are many reasons for the fate of the PC (more of our disposable income going to phones and tablets, increasing use of web applications, lack of innovation in the PC space, etc.), but I think one contributing factor is that SSDs are keeping computers from feeling “old” as quickly as they used to.

What do you think? Solid theory?

(Hard drive icon courtesy of Joe Harrison.)

3 thoughts on “An Underappreciated Factor in the Decline of PC Sales: Solid-state Drives

  1. It goes further than that I think: A 5 year old computer can do everything 95% of the population needs: browse the Web and use Office. So why buy a new one if the old one still works?


  2. I agree with Ariel. It’s amazing how far old to ancient hardware can take you these days. I regularly use a Pentium IV desktop with 1.8GHz and a Pentium M laptop with 900MHz. (Granted, I use Ubuntu and Lubuntu on those machines.) So I think you could even extend that five-year estimate if you’re willing to accept certain limits like Flash videos with only 480p/no full screen!


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