Apple CEO Steve Jobs may have been onto something when he said that "PCs are going to be like trucks," as some tablet owners are reportedly letting their PCs gather dust.
According to Nielsen, 35 percent of tablet owners with desktop PCs say they're using the computer less often than before, or not at all. The percentage of tablet owners who use their laptops "less often, or not at all" is 32 percent.
That means the majority of tablet owners are using their PCs as much or more than before, but I think there's a little more to this story. In Nielsen's survey, 77 percent of tablet owners say they use the device in ways for which they previously turned to a laptop or desktop, suggesting that people are replacing PC use with tablet use more than they let on. Either that, or tablets have compelled people to use all of their computers more than ever before.
Anecdotally, I can say that the iPad has replaced my laptop for almost everything but work. When Friday afternoon rolls around, it's not uncommon for me to leave the laptop off until Monday morning. The tablet is more convenient for reading e-mail, checking Twitter and browsing the Web -- the kind of things I'm inclined to do in the evenings and on weekends. In that sense, Jobs is right. The tablet's portability and ease of use makes it the vehicle of choice for basic tasks.
Still, I don't think his analogy is flawless. Comparing PCs to trucks, as he did at the All Things D conference in 2010, implies that most people won't own PCs. For the foreseeable future, that's quite a stretch. Laptops and desktops excel at typing, pointing, cutting, pasting, and multitasking. The things you take for granted on a PC, such as highlighting a chunk of text, resizing a photo, or looking at two application windows side-by-side, are a chore (or even impossible) on tablets. Even if I didn't use my laptop for work, I wouldn't want to be stuck without one. I can't say the same thing about a truck.