Is the PC's Reign Ending?

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Bill Loguidice's picture

There's an interesting piece by Mercury News Columnist, Troy Wolverton, boldly titled, The PC's reign is ending, where he basically states that this is the beginning of the end of the PC's dominance as our primary computing device. This is the same basic premise as "PC gaming is dying", which we all know is an overblown idea that's been run up the flagpole since the 90's, but, as with that well-worn mantra, I have to agree there's some truth to the concept when it's not taken strictly as a sensationalistic headline. After all, many of us, myself included, have smartphones that perform the majority of functions we used to need powerful desktop or laptop computers for, effectively replacing them in a surprising number of situations.

Luckily, the article is not as superficial as the headline and opening, and does in fact make the point we've made around here time and again, that the reality is a computer by any other name is still a computer. So while it may not be a big gray tower under your desk or a clamshell notebook with a full stroke keyboard in your briefcase, it's really just an evolution of the form factor and more specific functional repurposing (e.g., a smartphone being designed around making calls first, or a videogame console being designed around playing games). The reality is when you factor in things like smartphones and now, tablets, computers are more explosively dominant than ever and will continue on such an upward trajectory until we reach the point of complete saturation and actual disposable computing devices. It's said everything will eventually have a microchip, and really, we're not that far off. I for one welcome our new computing overlords, no matter what shape they take or by what other category we try to place them in.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
"Many analysts -- myself

"Many analysts -- myself included -- doubted there was a mainstream market for tablets. But Apple proved us wrong when it introduced the iPad last year. The company sold more than 7 million iPads in less than six months and is expected
"
Hmm i think its more like APPLE has its fanbase and they will buy anything. Tablets have been tried before (toshiba had several that "tried" to break into the US, but never succeded) as a company we looked at early ones at least 5+ years ago for our IN field agents. Toshiba even had "mini" laptops almost 10 years ago (they where not called NETBOOKS then). They where pretty neat as they had a thumbpad (much like the PSP has and the mouse buttons where on the back of where you held your hand. Think a Really large DS with a joystick on the right side and two buttons on bottom to select. The big problem wwith them was screen size, nothing was made to fit it. At the time 640X480 was just dying and sceens where just starting 1024X768 (800X600 was the new defualt low res). Most apps just did not fit on that screen size. it was a big deterent. We use alot of custom apps, but designing them for the small screen and the big screen really slows developement. INFO is king and the more you can put on one screen in a readable way the better.

The IPAD is a product that succeded on Pure APPLE brand power (opinion). its just a GIANT IPHONE, its been said a million times (mostly as it is true). Our company got 30 at release and all the "show off" makreting reps and such got um , I have one for tech support so I can deal with it and understand why and how it works (my first mac product in years). For about 3 weeks the calls where non stop (mostly as none of the people has use Mac OS's before) no real problems. But no calls anymore, I'm pretty sure none of them are used anymore, they all went back to the laptops. The one by me gets alot of "oooh" when people see it.. they all want one. But it seems all the ones we put in use in the company are now wasted hardware. Nobody has came out and said it. But we all know it. HYPE sold the non Tech people on um and they got um, but they had no use for them.

I can see it being the future and the IPAD has just pushed that one step closer. Windows OS ones should slowley bridge this gap (i dont like MS, but its simple, they are the OS of business) and make them actual "work" machines. The MS ones will painfully "grow up". Apple products are supported and BETA tested by APPLE fans. Microsoft doesnt have the fan base so when they screw up (Iphone held wrong losing reception) people dont keep buyin it.. RROD on the 360 was a huge blow to MS, but they didnt just keep selling um with a extra fcooling fan (well they did try till they couldnt anymore), they fixed it (no rubber boot on a IPHONE trick) as there are no fans to sustain broke products for them.

Mobile computing wont help me in my job in anyway, but I can sure see it being a wonderfull thing for some. I think touchpad computers will become more mainstream when cell cards are built in without ungodly prices attached to data. When phone companies do it like cable companies. I have one data plan for phone/ipad/car, etc... instead of the one plan for each device.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Apple
clok1966 wrote:

Hmm i think its more like APPLE has its fanbase and they will buy anything.

Have truer words ever been spoken?

n/a
Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Sometimes fanboys = useful
Matt Barton wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

Hmm i think its more like APPLE has its fanbase and they will buy anything.

Have truer words ever been spoken?

Well, that is true, but it doesn't necessarily make them wrong... ;-) I for one thank them for FINALLY getting the tablet category off the ground.

n/a
clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
I agree
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Matt Barton wrote:
clok1966 wrote:

Hmm i think its more like APPLE has its fanbase and they will buy anything.

Have truer words ever been spoken?

Well, that is true, but it doesn't necessarily make them wrong... ;-) I for one thank them for FINALLY getting the tablet category off the ground.

I will be the first to admit Jobs (err apple) has really pushed some excellent tech into mainstream. And I do think the IPAD is doing it again in tablet computers. But some of that pushing is simply the rabid fan base, not the tech. But I do think they do some stuff badly and the Apple Fan base is so strong they are blind to getting some change. MS "Surface" was really a big Tablet computer I myslef would much reather see that type of product (for work).. i cant see it for home. The Ipad is pretty impressive for portablilty. Im still really at a loss for what its really good for. I know , watch a movie, web browsing, simple games,etc.. To me is almost as big as a laptop (to carry around) and does less. I really see it as a product everybody wants, but has no real use for. I mean I can watch a movie on my phone and its easier to carry with me for that bus ride or car ride, And if I really want size (screen) a small laptop just seems more user freindly and such. Sure its slighly bigger, but as far as lugging it around its almot the same thing.

err. not 100% correct, I like the idea of Menus, and that type of use (but they already had that (it just wasnt portable it was built in at tables).

maybe im just anti apple (liek Im anti MS) I hated teh mac and working on it, I knwo they seem pretty bullet proof, but they are like food.. its like eating a hamburger and fires made perfect for every meal at the same place, its great for awhile.. I want to try new things.. but I cant, its not at my resturant.

Catatonic
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Joined: 05/20/2006
iPad is my "fun" computer.

iPad is my "fun" computer. The desktop & laptop are only for work now, I don't travel with them or use them when I don't have to.

sascha/hdrs (not verified)
It's funny how people come up

It's funny how people come up again and again with such stories! Maybe the PC reign is ending as a _consumer_ device. But then, it never really was a consumer device in the first place!

On the other hand on what do you think will professionals (programmers, designers, audio producers, etc. etc. etc.) work on? Probably not on an iPad!

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
No one is going to take the PC away
sascha/hdrs wrote:

It's funny how people come up again and again with such stories! Maybe the PC reign is ending as a _consumer_ device. But then, it never really was a consumer device in the first place!

On the other hand on what do you think will professionals (programmers, designers, audio producers, etc. etc. etc.) work on? Probably not on an iPad!

I think there will always be professional computers (academic, scientific, business, programming, video production, music production, etc.), yes. Even Apple still has a line of professional computers. With that said, there's no reason that something like an iPad couldn't be used as a modest development system itself, particularly when paired with a proper docking station. I think a good case can be made that as we move more and more stuff to the cloud, there's more and more potential to work on our stuff from any device any where. So through that thinking, the traditional computer is indeed less and less important, and less and less the centerpiece of our day-to-day computing experience. But does that mean the traditional computer will go away completely at some point? Again, I feel strongly that that simply won't be the case, we'll just be incorporating more computing-capable devices into our lives and have to use that supremely powerful traditional computing box less. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. In fact, I consider it rather liberating.

n/a
cdoty
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Joined: 07/21/2006
Upgrading?

Is the PC reaching the end of it's life as an upgradable device?

I think we are nearing the end of the x86 upgrade cycle. Supposedly we're reaching the limit on core speed, and at some point there is diminishing returns from increasing the number of cores. And, there seems to be bigger bottlenecks than processor speeds. Increasing the number of cores will most likely further expose the memory and hard drive limits.

For the typical user, is there really any reason to upgrade past the current graphics technology? Many people have gotten used to iPhone and Android quality graphics, and most casual games are still aimed at the lower spec systems. There is very little advantage in buying a new graphics card.

I think the focus of PC hardware development will be lower powered devices, and consistent hardware. The Atom processor is being aimed at smartphones. And, Intel is developing 'Sandy Bridge', which is aimed at becoming the base PC system.

clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Cdoty brings up an

Cdoty brings up an interesting point- Upgrading- The pro and con of a Desktop PC. I think of all the new devices we are getting Phones, Ipad, Consoles. There is somthing to be said for a "stable" paltform, but tech (moores law) really makes non upgrada products in the tech field a nasty money sink. Phones right now are really showing this, what is hot in january is old in march. most new gadgets are getting more and more expensive, and the tech is getting better and better, most of these products are going to be "old" tech wise in a very short lifespan. And almost none have any upgrade path at all. Jut buy a new one.

msimplay
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Joined: 10/07/2010
Na whatever he is saying is wrong

Personally I don't think the reign of the PC will ever end so long as there are companies willing to produce newer hardware.
Hell companies like Nvidia thrive on releasing new stuff for the hell of it.
Also even with my current PC I wouldn't mind updating to an Intel I7 with an SSD and a top of the line graphics card because everyone craves one thing when it comes to computer related tasks, everyone wants it to be done faster hence the updating cycle will continue.
Plus most hardware these days is based upon the advances of the PC since there is next to no Arcade industry anymore even the PS3 / XBox and Wii are all based on the PC model with a CPU and a GPU combination.
Plus there are so many different types you got the Desktop , the media player , the notebook the pda and even the Iphone / Ipod etc all are just pocket pc's.

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