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Is the PC really dying?


When Mark Dean, CTO of IBM Middle East and Africa, declared this morning that we are in the “Post-PC Era”, a tinge of frustration and anger popped up in me. Items that are used daily in millions of households across the world don’t simply die. I was annoyed when IBM CEO Lou Gerstner declared that “The PC is dead” in 1999. I was annoyed when they made the same claim in 2005 when they sold their personal computing division to Lenova. I was annoyed this morning when I read it again.

Then, I realized something: they may be right this time.

The younger generations Y and Z – 10-30 years old or whatever those boundaries may be – do not use PCs in general. Some have them for gaming, an industry that demands more power than most laptops can offer. Most simply don’t. The have laptops. They have smartphones. They have tablets. Their technological world is growing, but the devices are getting smaller.

Could Dean actually be correct? The more I think about it, the more I realize that the people who use PCs that I know of are all older. I haven’t touched one in 2 years. My son has one for gaming, but it’s the lone-PC in a household of 7 laptops, 5 smartphones, and an iPad 2. I don’t jump the gun and declare anything the “next big thing” prematurely, nor do I jump the gun and declare any technology old or obsolete until the signs are clear.

Are the signs clear now? Is the PC replaceable? Are laptops, smartphones, and tablets large enough and powerful enough to make the big box computers unnecessary?

Why they will live

This was much harder to think about than I thought. We already mentioned the gaming aspect, but even as I hit Skype and ask some opinionated tech people what makes the PC sustainable, few had good answers. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Greater storage
  • Less expensive
  • Harder to steal (not a great reason, but valid nonetheless)
  • Bigger/more monitors
  • Strong CPU/RAM for certain professions that require heavy-duty programs

That was pretty much it.

Why they will die

The list was relatively large, but it really came down to convenience. People don’t simply sit at their desk all day as much as they used to. The most innovative companies and worklplaces such as Apple, Google, and Facebook encourage laptop and smaller device use. They want their employees to be mobile within and outside of the office.

In a world that is very saturated (and getting more so every day) with WiFi and 3G/4G broadband, having the ability to roam around the house, over to Starbucks, or riding in a vehicle is pushing us away from the PC more often than not.

* * *

When thinking about whether or not the PC is on it’s last leg, I’m leaning towards “yes” but I would like some input. What do you think?

  1. Would you actually say that a laptop is not a personal computer? This feels like an argument against desktop computers. 

    I do not believe desktop computers will die out. In work places all over, the desktop computers dominates. Laptops still doesn’t compare on price when you boost up the specs some, at least screen size (with good resolution). And gaming is not the only field you would want power. Video and image editing is a lot less painful when you don’t need to wait a couple of seconds for every click. And there is the comfort of sitting at a desk while doing various computer tasks. 

    Some out there who only use a computer for some browsing, mailing and chatting can do without the desktop computer, but I for one, wouldn’t feel comfortable in a home without one 🙂 

  2. I was just thinking the same thing the other day when we went shopping for a new computer. 
    I remember last time we shopped for a PC was about 3 years ago and Best Buy had a full isle with PCs  but when we went to buy our new PC a few days ago they had just not even half of that.

  3. If by the Personal Computer you mean traditional desktop computers, as in the non-portable variety of (computing) devices, then the answer is yes. These have been declining in use for years. While still a staple of most corporate office environments, I think employees increasingly prefer the flexibility and mobility of smaller computing options. Smartphones and tablets continue to whittle away at desktop usage but I wouldn’t be too quick to write-off PCs just yet.

  4. The PC’s won’t suddenly dissappear, they have it’s own clients with specific necessities. I use, Autodesk Maya and Autocad, and maybe I can show my work to my clients in a Tablet, but you need a powerfull CPU and GPU to perfom some 3D complex tasks (rendering!!). I think that tablets will be for lesser tasks, like office documents, emails, and all kind of web apps. But for the heavy duty work, you need a heavy duty machine. that’s all!!!

  5. I think that businesses (that are not promoting mobile use like Apple, Google) such as in retail, manufacturing etc will have desktops for long time yet.  Another point is that lower income people can afford desktops, a used desktop pc can be as cheap as 50$.  The “use” of desktops is not ending for some time yet. The “fad” of desktops is already long gone.

  6. For the personal use, they might-but for corporations and businesses, they will not fade out as easily as all that-most companies have to keep storage of their files somewhere-and desktops are the only good way to really do that.
    Also-a lot of the heavy duty games that require so much CPU and RAM do not work on tablets and rarely very well on laptops. A desktop PC is almost always expandable for RAM and upgradable.

  7. The PC’s greatest strength as a gaming utility is that it’s a completely open
    platform. What this means is that the more investment you’re prepared to put
    into your PC, the more you’ll get out of it. 

  8. I do agree with you! PC won’t die in the future. It still gains many advantages compared with the laptop and tablet computer.

  9. No look at MS entering the tablet field since. Windows XP they have been making Windows laptop compatible. There will still be desktop computers out there. probably still very fat until for another 10-15 years. Look at the Windows 8 all in one PC’s Apple has a chance of dying because they don’t get as much business as MS . In conclusion, it will not die with WIndows 8 and RT out there

  10. You are on a different train when you mentioned anything Apple, I’m in my thirties and still refuse to give up my PC. The future if you ask me sounds more like a downgrade than an upgrade when talking about mobility vs the PC.

    I would rather argue that the PC is not dead, rather it is mutating 🙂

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