What it is: Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Dell Computers, Lenovo, and Microsoft have teamed up to create an advertising campaign called “PC Does What?”
Imagine living in the time when cars were becoming cheaper and more common. To convince people to stay with horse and carriages, suppose the horse buggy, buggy whip, and blacksmith industries worked together to create an advertising campaign called “Horses Do What?” The goal of this campaign would be to show all the cool things you could do with a horse in an attempt to get people to start buying and relying on horses more and cars much less.
That’s basically what the “PC Does What?” campaign attempts to do. If you watch these series of ads, they attempt to show people amazed that a laptop PC can play music, lay flat enough to slide under a door, and flip the screen around to use the screen like a tablet. If any of these ads get you excited about using a PC again, chances are good you’d also be easily swayed to ditch a car in favor of a horse and buggy.
The problem with this advertising campaign is that it ignores the obvious. Specifically, most people already have a smartphone and they can do much of what they need on a smartphone without relying on buying a PC. A more accurate advertising campaign might be showing someone trying to use a laptop to get driving directions while sitting in a car (not easy to do without a cellular modem), looking up transit directions at a bus stop (anyone want to lug a laptop around all the time instead of a much smaller and lighter smartphone?), or monitoring their number of steps while jogging and carrying a laptop in both hands instead of a smartphone or smart watch.
The PC market is past its prime and on its way down because mobile computers are far more convenient to use on an everyday basis. Most people carry a smartphone with them all the time, which means they already have a computer in their pocket. If tablet sales are declining, then it’s because larger smartphone screens are proving useful enough in the same way that smartphones are just useful enough compared to using a full blown PC.
Perhaps Burroughs, Sperry, and Digital Equipment Corporation can get together and promote an advertising campaign called “Minicomputers Do What?” Then the ads could show people surprised that a minicomputer could print out a spreadsheet on paper or a list of names from a database on a bunch of envelopes. Then actors could look on in absolute shock, turn to the camera and say, “Minicomputers Do What?”
No amount of advertising is going to convince people to go back to relying on PCs as much as they did in the past before smartphones became so capable. The PC market is on its way down and advertising alone can never reverse this trend. Imagine of Kodak ran ads showing the benefits of film. No matter what the benefits might be, the convenience and ultimately better resolution of digital photography eventually proved more capable than film.
When you see these silly “PC Does What?” ads, you’re looking at the desperation of a dying industry that refuses to face reality. PCs will still be useful in the hands of people who actually need them, but for many others, smartphones can do most of what they need and an older PC is still perfectly serviceable years later. In fact, if you read the fine print on these “PCs Do What?” ads, you can see that they compare a new PC to a five year old PC to show you how far today’s PCs have advanced over a five-year old model.
That’s like Ford Motors comparing their new cars to a five year old car and hoping you’ll be amazed that a five-year old product isn’t identical to a new product. The companies running these “PC Does What?” ads should have saved their money and just bought smartphones instead. At least they’d have something useful for their money rather than a series of pointless “PC Does What?” commercials that will fail to excite the public into buying more PCs.