PC is dead?

There’s been a number of articles in the last few days about the demise of the PC (desktop and laptop) – Google it – in the wake of smartphone and tablet frenzy, and while there’s no doubt that these hot new gadgets persuade you to push the power button on your monster less often, I think it is premature to say that PCs (including Macs) are fit for the museum.

I think there’s a number of reasons for the downtrend – and I think none of them are to do with Windows 8 which just has a hate bandwagon. First, PCs from the last decade are still employable. I remember the days when the average lifespan of a PC was 5yrs, not because the hardware failed, but because software demanded more requirements faster, so you were conveyer-belted into a new machine. My last Dell lasted 10yrs and it didn’t die physically, it died in the sense that with XP being taken off life support next year and because it was getting a bit slow it deserved to retire. But until next year all the software and hardware I wanted to run on it, would run. This is why people upgrade to a new computer less.

The iPad has cannibalised Mac sales – as Apple acknowledged – and they rightly believed that if some company is going to do that it’s better them than anybody else. And as the iPad is virtually a synonym for the word ‘tablet’ it’s no surprise that its competitors are struggling, and particularly Microsoft who got off to a late start.

While the majority of our computing activity is internet-based, we still need them that big old hunk for classic tasks like office applications, printing, scanning, ripping CDs, watching DVDs, intricate mouse control for graphics work, music-making, the storage of large amounts of personal data, and even backing up our smartphone/tablet content!
But as smartphones and tablets are a new ‘wow’ product category, it’s no wonder that money that would have gone on a computer upgrade is deferred. People are still buying classic computers because they are ultimately more useful even though they are not as convenient. The sales are there but it’s just muted.

And don’t forget, who’s going to program all those apps without a classic computer? The PC is not going anywhere, and I hope it never will as there’s still something pleasant about sitting in front of a desk – as I am now – and interfacing with a mouse and keyboard.

One prediction that I have no problem with is that the smartphone, tablet and traditional PC may converge into one product. i.e. slot your phone into a tablet shell to power it, and connect that shell to a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the old-school experience.

Sure, some people don’t need a PC if they’re only internet consumers, but I think they’re a minority.