The MWC ends up confirming the major trend of the year. 2022 is placed under the sign of the PC. At the expense of the smartphone?
We felt the trend coming for several months and the MWC 2022 came to confirm it more than ever. Having become mature, the smartphone has lost interest in the face of a portable PC which marks its comeback. Between fierce competition and global necessity, the portable PC is beginning a new life.
Having become mature, the smartphone loses interest
Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the smartphone has become the nerve center of the entire high tech sector. Each year, the brands competed in intelligence to create new concepts, new functions and significantly improve the formula. It is with the smartphone that the ARM architecture has won its letters of nobility. It is with the smartphone that everyone now has a versatile camera in their pocket. It was with the smartphone that the Oled found its first expression.
Arrived in 2022, it must be admitted that the smartphone has lost its interest for the technophile. The market is now mature, a phrase that has been repeated for several years to reflect the lack of major changes from year to year. It is less and less necessary to renew your smartphone, even when you are keen on new things. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is an excellent illustration of this. This is also due to the disappearance, or almost, of bad smartphones. Now, there are very good devices from 200 euros that will suit most users.
Even operating systems, with their annualized release rate, no longer offer drastic change from one iteration to the next. Pending a possible generalization of foldable designs, it is difficult to imagine what could fundamentally change our relationship to the smartphone. Smartphones today are powerful enough to run everything, autonomous enough to last the day, load very quickly and have perfectly calibrated screens. Difficult to find prospects for major changes.
The rebirth of the PC
The trend could already be emerging at CES and it was confirmed at MWC: the eyes of tech are now turning to the PC. We are still talking about the Mobile World Congress, a show historically dedicated to mobile telephony, where we have often discovered the various flagships of manufacturers and the great innovations that await the smartphone. This year, it was still the case, we were able to discover Oppo's invisible camera or Xiaomi's foldable smartphone, and of course the Honor Magic 4 Pro, but it is impossible to deny the turning point taken by this edition of the show. .
The most important innovations, those which will have a real impact on the market and for consumers, were in the PC market. Mobile World Congress obliges, most were still directed towards laptops, but we still had the presentation of a desktop PC from Huawei.
The biggest symbol of this transformation was perhaps the announced arrival of the Nokia brand on the portable PC market thanks to the French OffGlobal. We therefore have a history of mobile telephony which will market laptop computers. It was also at this MWC 2022 that Samsung decided to return to Europe with the Galaxy Book 2 Pro that we were able to take in hand.
A trend that involves Apple
What is the most interesting novelty launched by Apple for two years? Undoubtedly, the beginning of its transition from its Intel x86 architecture computers to its own Apple Silicon chips. Of course, the iPhone continues to receive new products every year, but this is no longer where we find the biggest generational leaps. To be convinced, just look at the new features of the iPhone 13 range, and compare with what a latest generation MacBook Pro can offer.
In 2022, the firm is said to be preparing seven new Macs or MacBooks. A very wide range to convince all audiences to follow Apple on its transition to more efficient and more economical chips. Moreover, the most awaited novelty this year at Apple, apart from a possible VR headset, is undoubtedly the MacBook Air M2 which should benefit from a brand new design.
Why is the PC back in fashion?
If we rewind a little, the PC market was presented as in decline at the beginning of the 2010s, during the advent of the iPad. The smartphone and the tablet were presented as essentials that could well replace our computers definitively. Apple will even go so far as to promise that an iPad can replace the PC in several advertisements.
Ten years later, the PC market takes off without needing to transform into a tablet, even if the convertible machines are still there. This can be explained in particular by the consequence of the Covid crisis. The confinement phases have prompted many households to better equip themselves with computers that are better able to manage work at home or homework. Several brands have told us that there is now a growing market for a second PC in the home to better support what was until then “the family PC”.
Fierce competition under the hood
Another trend that was expressed at the MWC, and explains this excitement around the PC, is also under the hood. We are obviously talking about renewed competition in the sector of processors and graphics chips. Hegemonic for a long time, Intel has seen AMD make a strong comeback and ARM succeed in gradually grabbing markets. Same situation for Nvidia which will soon have to deal with Intel Arc graphics cards in addition to AMD Radeon or ARM chips.
At MWC, this resulted in the announcement of an expanded range of low-power 12th generation Intel processors and the announcement of devices featuring the new Ryzen 6000s based on the AMD Zen 3+ architecture.
Competitors, but also partners. On the sidelines of the show, AMD, ARM and Intel announced the creation of a standard around chiplets which could change the way a chip is designed in the coming years. Like Samsung's latest Exynos 2200 SoC, which incorporates an AMD RDNA 2 graphics component, one could imagine processors that will mix the technologies of several players.
The year of the PC
After the closure of CES and MWC at the start of 2022, it is clear that the trend in the tech industry is in the PC market. This market, which was considered mature until now, has been stepping up its innovations for several months to offer us ever more efficient and ambitious machines. This is also the reason for the reinvestment of Microsoft, heavyweights in the sector, in its operating system with Windows 11.
Despite a still very large number of new smartphones coming out each month, the mobile market seems to be slowing down when it comes to finding innovations to bring to the general public.
But this is perhaps the lesson to be learned from the PC's return to fanfare, the smartphone may make its big comeback when paradigm shifts such as the foldable become widespread and, above all, when the world will regain mobility.