Sunday, June 13, 2010

It’s official: PCs have been replaced by personal gadgets

You are probably tired by now from hearing about Apple. But for industry watchers like us- writers and analysts who have followed computing for three decades- we cannot ignore the milestones being crossed and the turning points being witnessed in this era!

Here’s the latest milestone, that sheds some light on the reality of the growth in mobile computing versus desktop/laptop computing.

Newsweek has reported that, within six months, Apple's revenues from the iPhone and iPad will be more than double its revenues from the entire Macintosh computer product line. Imagine how a company founded in the late seventies to produce personal computers, then going through a cycle of ups and downs, has completely re-invented itself as a producer of slim mobile gadgets, which are now the new form of computers.

After all, what does a personal computer do nowadays? It’s an Internet-connected machine we use for email, telephony, information, social networking, gaming and some light business applications. What if you could add options like a size that fits into your pocket or a small handbag, including a music player and 5 megapixel camera. How can a desktop or laptop computer compete with that for personal use?

Don’t get me wrong. Fully-featured PCs with wide screens, expansion slots, peripherals and big keyboards are still needed for both business and entertainment; but the majority of people today seem to be doing just fine utilizing touch-screens or mini keyboards on smaller devices. As a result, many are ditching their computers.

Combine the impact of of the recent efforts of Apple, Blackberry, Nokia and others and you begin to see the convergence of computing, telephony and photography is complete.

In the poorer countries of the world, smart phones- which we are mobile computing gadgets- are the more widely available computing platform, are cheaper and therefore help bridge the digital divide. Just look at the number of mobile phone subscribers in Africa, compared to home or office broadband Internet subscribers. Clearly, a shift is happening in the way ‘we compute’.

For now, I cannot yet comfortably write and lay out this column on a smart phone, but I could probably do it with an iPad equipped with the right software: A complete device the size of a book, thinner than my monitor and without the need for a separate keyboard, mouse or cumbersome computer case. Amazing!

People keep saying change is coming. Well, it has already arrived. Let’s learn to deal with it!

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At 9:48 PM , Anonymous Khalid said...

This is all productivity VS convenience. Yes, having your mini "office" everywhere you go is nice, but if you'll ever want to get work done, you'll need a proper computer. It would be crazy to think businesses will favor some tablet over a normal computer. That's never going to happen.

You'll also have to keep in mind the ergonomics of these mobile devices. One month after the iPad was out, all sorts of people were complaining about finger pains. Plus, the way people bend their necks and backs to look at their mobile devices screens. That's never good for their bodies.

Posted from my multi-monitor desktop.

At 7:02 AM , Blogger EmiratesMac said...

I don't think we're quite there yet but we're headed in that direction fast and the iPad and many other devices are just the first taste of what's to come. If Steve Jobs sees the iPad as the death of the tradition PC is his business, I don't think it's that dramatic, but I do think the PC as we know it will change or at least the function it fulfills in our daily lives. For me, I do more and more with my iPad, but I can obviously not do without a Mac yet, notebook or desktop.

The thing is that what is a "proper computer" is changing and business favors what gets the job done and that makes financial sense.

Posted from my iPad.

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