I think we certainly are seeing the rise of the notebook PC - pretty soon though our phones (especially now that Windows 8 is going to be ARM compatible) will be the ones taking over and just as been done already we will just plug our phone in to a dock and that’s your PC.
Personally I will always custom build my PCs for the sole reason that I get precisely what I want.
In school we have a notebook PC for every teacher (no desktops on the desks) with a healthy supply of desktops and notebooks for the students. The plan is to move away from both as much as possible to thin clients (space saving and so on).
For any serious work I'd only do it on a desktop PC. Can't bear the thought of being hunched over a shallow laptop keyboard or even worse a touchscreen tablet! My primary device is a desktop and everything else I do on my phone, with a Lenovo x100e for if I need to take something out on business \ presentations.
As for the future of fixed stations in education, at the FOTE conference I went to recently Universities were finding students want more of them, not less and BYOD wasn't universally favoured by students due to issues with transporting kit around. Lesson to learn there, add to the services you already provide not swap one for another :) Whether those fixed stations are VDI or traditional desktops is another matter... for me thin clients still don't make sense with the upfront costs for servers, licensing, proper thin client devices etc you have to put in on the promise of easier management and power savings in the long run.
As for PCs on the high street, amazed they've lasted this long as most were poor quality, ridiculously overpriced tat, hopefully what will be left will be the custom builders who use quality branded components made to order. If you need a new PC look no further than PC Pro A-list where it's names like Chillblast and Yoyotech in the desktop section now.
As it stands I'll be sticking with my new i5 \ 560Ti gaming box for the considerable future :D
For business use I think PC's will just get smaller but will essentially live on regardless. Apart from anything else, some businesses don't want the devices going home at night.
For home use there are people like me out there who absolutely MUST be able to have a powerful machine able to drive three large monitors while maintaining a decent frame rate. I think there are enough of us that the demand will continue to be met for a long time to come. Speaking of monitors though, decent 1920x1200 monitors seem to have become very rare items. Anyone recommend one larger than 24"? (preferable 26").
I always build my own desktop PC because I get the spec I want and it's also enjoyable picking out the parts etc! I have a nice big desk at home and a nice big chair and find it very relaxing just chilling at my PC with big monitor, decent sound etc. I find it easier to study, play games and just generally mess around with this setup. I do have a netbook I use if I want to surt the web in the living room... and my GF loves her laptop.
In my job (private sector) everyone has a desktop... more reliable, robust. The one thing I could see us using in the future though is tablets, just to show off products on a nice screen to customers, but untill a more reliable 3G connection (4G??) comes out, I don't think we will. Laptops or netbooks would just be too big for showing off pictures and floor plans.
Yeah basically, I can't see desktop PCs, laptops, or tablets dying. Netbooks could I think though. I'd rather have a nice tablet over my netbook. but my lil Samsung cost me £180 like 2 years ago!
@dhicks - I agree with you, I think 'home server' type devices will see a place in households, I expect them to take the form of a set-top-box a bit like sky+, but with more functionality. You can get obviously media centre PC's whch sort of do this, but they're all a bit clunky at the moment.
My new PC is a i7 950 with a ati 6950 which even after a year is still more powerful than all but the most expensive laptops - and given theres been a new series of CPUs in that time thats not bad. I like to play games and do music production, so for me unless top end laptops take a serious plunge in price I'll always be buying a desktop/
I recycled an old work machine (purchased when I left) as my home desktop-type machine. It is a laptop, but it is always plugged in, with external drives / kit connected and with external monitor connected, giving my 2 screens. I run it as most people would run a desktop so consider it as such and it is fixed in the home office.
It is where my email is downloaded to, it is where my music / videos / books / apps are stored, it s where my devices sync to ... and I can't see that changing.
It is just on 4 years old now and the upgrade to Lion is slowing down a little but I will hopefully get another 2 years out of it ... and then I will go back to a normal desktop style machine (and yes ... one that runs OSX but the OS is not important).
I just have too much data to trust it to all be online at the moment.
I am a bit mixed about whether to go for a machine I can add things to as I got bored of building my own stuff a while ago. I have still done PCs for my wife but for my main machine I have tended to stick with things that only have the RAM or HDD upgraded ... and that is down to what I can afford at the time and cheaper to buy in my own upgrade materials. I don't think I fancy going down the route of upgrading graphics cards, swapping out M/Bs and chips, etc. I do most of my gaming on a separate laptop and I am not a high-end gamer so I am not too bothered about that side either.
For a mobile device I have the iPad2 for when in the house ... and that does pretty much all I need for simple stuff.
I don't think that the Desktop PC is dead ... just that it is not the sole or even main option now.
I have a desktop at home for one reason... Gaming if not for that I would use my laptop or tablet.
That's the other point, if it wasn't for Battlefield 3 my Core2Duo E8400 \ 4GB RAM \ Geforce 8800GT was still tearing through Windows 7, Media Center, Photoshop etc... part of the reason why the PC market is stagnating as there's not a lot a 3-4 year old desktop can't do.
Compare that to a few years ago and Core2Duo particularly made a massive difference to longevity of kit :)
For me, it comes down to space, just can't justify wasting space on a large PC, would rather use a laptop.
That said, I do use a small desktop (Optiplex) as it's a half decent spec, but even that tends to get in the way. Mostly use my MacBook for everything now.
Certainly can't be bothered to build PC's anymore, but then I've never been a PC gamer so I can see the attraction if you are (not as attractive as just firing up the PS3 though ;))
London International Technology Show at ExCel last weekend prove PC gaming is getting more and more popular.