When online gambling first came about in the mid-1990s, bettors could only use a desktop or laptop computer. Of these two options, laptops would come to dominate internet gambling due to its portability and convenience.
However, laptops have much more competition today. Smartphones and tablets serve as more-convenient options for players on the go.
Laptop PCs and Macs, meanwhile, don’t command the same usage they once did. In fact, one might even consider them to be dying in the gambling world.
I’m going to briefly cover laptops’ rise among players along with if they have any future in gambling.
Brief History of Laptops
Laptops have been around much longer than most people realize. The concept for portable computers first came about in the early 1970s.
The IBM 5100 became the first commercially available portable computer in 1975. This rudimentary device didn’t shake up the PC world, but it did lay the foundation for bigger things to come.
The Epson HX-20 became the first official “laptop” computer in 1981. This Seiko Epson-produced device offered a rechargeable battery and small printer.
The Osborne 1 launched within the same year. Although it weighed 24.5 pounds and had no battery, it did feature two floppy drives and a fairly advanced screen.
More laptops and innovations would come about in the 1980s. Intel’s i386SL, for example, introduced functions that minimized battery usage.
The 1990s saw laptop PCs become much more competitive with desktops. Although still more expensive than desktop units at the time, these portable computers offered more convenience.
They would also develop features that put them more in line with a desktop’s hardware. Apple, which started releasing laptops in the early 1990s, was at the forefront of this movement.
Why Laptops Become Popular Among Gamblers
The laptop computer maintains obvious advantages over a desktop. It’s lighter, easier to carry, and features its own screen (rather than being connected to one).
But these computers still needed to connect to landline internet throughout most of the 1990s. Therefore, many gamblers didn’t see a definitive reason to choose laptops over desktops at the time.
They simply wanted a reasonably priced computer to play online casino games and/or poker with. Many laptops still cost over $1,000 at that point.
A laptop’s portability suddenly became more in demand. Gamblers could take their computer to another room or even to a coffee shop and play games online.
Wi-Fi would continue spreading throughout homes and businesses in the early and mid-2000s. More and more people saw the need for a laptop as a result.
These computers also became more affordable by the mid-2000s. One could now purchase a standard laptop for between $500 and $600.
Available Wi-Fi and cheaper laptops made for a powerful combination. Soon, many people were gambling on their portable devices versus clunkier desktop computers.
Numbers Show Laptop Computers Fading
Laptops definitely aren’t disappearing anytime soon. Over 166 million of these devices sold in 2019.
But this figure is a far cry from almost a decade ago. Laptops hit their peak in 2011 after 209 million units moved off the shelves.
Of course, desktops and tablets have also seen slow growth in recent years. Desktop sales dropped from 155 million units in 2011 to just 88.4 million in 2019.
Tablet sales hit a peak of 230.1 million units sold in 2014. However, only 136.8 million tablets moved last year.
As you can see, laptops are now outselling tablets again by a comfortable margin. They’re also slamming desktops in terms of sales.
Smartphones are the big elephant in the room, though. They’ve gone from selling 472 million units in 2011 to 1.517 billion in 2019.
Of course, smartphone growth has leveled off since 2017. Forecasts show that sales will increase slightly—although nothing near the 300% growth seen over the past decade.
The key, though, is that smartphone sales are at least level in recent years. Laptop computers, on the other hand, are slowly fading along with tablets and desktops.
Can Laptop Gambling Compete with Smartphones?
No survey is needed to show that smartphone gambling is undoubtedly most popular among all devices. With over 1.5 billion units sold annually, smartphones are far more accessible to the average gambler than anything else.
The reasons why smartphone gambling dominates are obvious. For starters, a phone is small enough to fit in one’s pocket.
One doesn’t need to worry about lugging around a laptop or tablet when gambling. They can simply pull out their phone when the mood strikes for mobile online casino games such as blackjack, slots, poker, or anything else.
More importantly, the average person spends far more time on their smartphone than a laptop. Phones have become a jack of all trades for surfing the web, checking email, texting, social media, and more.
Of course, smartphones aren’t perfect when it comes to gambling. They feature a relatively small screen in comparison to laptops.
The standard phone screen has grown within the last few years. But it still doesn’t equal the 15- or 17-inch display on the average laptop.
Those who want to see more details in their gaming experience will at least consider a laptop PC or Mac. They’ll especially be open to a portable PC/Mac if they mainly gamble at home.
Bettors who use their laptop for word processing and other purposes will also think about gambling on a portable computer. Much like those who use smartphones for multiple functions, this crowd can gamble and create documents with the same device.
What’s the Future of Laptop Gambling?
Numbers reveal that 166 million laptops were sold in 2019. This figure is around 9x smaller than the 1.517 billion smartphones that moved in stores.
Additionally, laptop sales continue steadily declining. You can clearly see that far more people own and, as a result, gamble on phones these days.
But this isn’t to say that laptop gaming will completely die out. These computers still offer certain advantages over a smartphone.
Number one, they boast a larger screen. The average smartphone offers around a 6-inch screen. Laptops, meanwhile, typically feature between a 15- and 17-inch screen.
Some people also rely on computers more than smartphones. They especially do so when their job demands more typing and/or spreadsheets, for example.
Tables vastly outsold laptop PCs/Macs in the mid-2010s. However, the tide has changed and laptops are certainly more popular now.
That said, you can expect laptops to serve as the secondary gambling device to smartphones in future years.
Laptop computers once dominated online gambling. Gamblers became motivated to use laptops once Wi-Fi and cheaper devices became available.
However, these portable computers have since been overtaken by smartphones. The latter outsells laptops by 1.35 billion units each year.
Nevertheless, laptop PCs and Macs still holds a prominent place in gambling. Those who want a large screen combined with some level of portability opt for laptops.
As of 2019, laptop computers are still outselling tablets and desktops by a wide margin. They remain a runner-up to smartphones when it comes to gambling and many other activities.
In summary, laptop gambling hasn’t completely died. It’s just not as popular as it used to be thanks to the rise of smartphone gambling.