December 30, 2012

There have been several articles written lately prophesying the demise of the PC (personal computer).   After decades of monopolizing the home computing experience, the desktop PC could be on the way out.  Technology “experts” say the rise of second screen devices such as smart phones and tablets, represents a fundamental shift towards mobile devices; thereby, ushering in the “post-PC” era.   It is felt by some that within the next decade, less than ten (10) percent of the current PC-using population will still require a desktop computer.   (A bold statement, in my opinion, but a fascinating proposition at any rate.)    Generally, there are five (5) basic reasons given.  These are as follows:

  1.   CLOUD COMPUTING—   Many experts say one of the most definitive signs of post-PC arrival is the increase in the number of cloud computing services.  Using a web site or a program installed on a computer, a cloud offloads the labor of running an application from the user’s computer to a server to which they connect, usually via the Internet.   The benefits of cloud services include reduced demand on the user’s own computer hardware, automatically updated content and the ability to access files across multiple devices; i.e. PC, smart phone, tablet—anywhere there is an online connection.    Via the cloud, users can manage event calendars between devices, continue streaming a film on a smart TV they started on their tablet or upload and share pictures between a smart phone and a PC. 
  2. PC SALES SLUMP—This year has been really tough for PC manufacturers.  The Associated Press reported that third quarter global PC sales fell by about eight point five (8.5) percent.   For the same period, DELL reported a forty-seven (47) percent drop in sales.  Hewlett-Packard realized an 8.9 billion dollar loss which was the worst in the company’s seventy-three year history.  In its October report, International Data Corporation predicted PC shipments in 2012 will represent the first annual decline since 2001.  Most industry analysts blame the sluggish sales, in part, to rising popularity of tablets and smart phones.   During the third quarter of this year, worldwide tablet and smart phone sales rose by forty-three (43) and forty-seven (47) percent respectively from 2011. 
  3. CONVERGENCE—With the approach of the post-PC era, the line between a desktop PC and other devices is becoming increasingly blurry.   Traditionally, the computing experience was tied to a single location in the home—wherever the computer was.  In the post-PC era, a similar experience can be had on multiple devices, from an Internet-connected TV in the family room to a smart phone in a pocket.  The PC now lives in many places.  It does not stay anchored to the kitchen table or desk located in an office.
  4. NO MORE DISCS—After decades of delivering content to computer users via floppy discs, CDs, DVDs, and other physical media, many companies now are starting to rely exclusively on digital channels.  As a result, manufacturers are beginning to remove physical drives from their latest computers. .  Removal of the outmoded floppy disc drive from the original iMac in 1998 signaled the writing on the wall.
  5. JUST A TOUCH—For decades, the only means of navigating a computer was keyboard and pointer devices such as a mouse or a touchpad.  With the shift to the post-PC era, users now have ten more options—their fingers.   Although Windows 8 still can be navigated using a mouse and a keyboard, the announcement of a shift to a touch-based interface led hardware manufacturers to install touch screens in  many of the recently released Windows 8 equipped desktop PCs and notebooks. 

I personally don’t think the PC will completely exit the scene because of the ease in using a keyboard and mouse.  We are accustomed to these devices and thousands upon thousands of people, on a daily basis, accomplish data entry quickly and with more accuracy as a result of their existence.  Think of reservations clerks working for airlines, hotels, concert halls; medical practitioners’ logging test results into a data base; school administrators updating student records, etc.  Keyboards facilitate ease and speed when these processes become necessary; STILL, I do agree, we will see more and more mobility when the need to access existing data bases becomes necessary.  Just a thought. 



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