PCs Reborn, not Retired
I like desktop computers. Sure, they’re more powerful, sure they have larger screens, sure you don’t have to worry about batteries dying or dropping them…but I just like them because of the space they make.
In today’s mobile and cloud-enabled world, the trend is to stop delineating spaces. When it comes to computing, we are less and less likely to reserve places in our lives where certain things get done, whether work or play, and where those certain things are much more enjoyable to do. It’s the difference between reading a book on the bus and at home in your favorite easy chair.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that we can go mobile with our computing, but it’s always a subpar, if extremely handy, experience.
A recent article in Digital Trends got me thinking in this direction. Desktop computer sales are slowing, as they’ve been doing for a while, but the article argues that the desktop is an irreplaceable piece of tech. According to the author, sales have slowed because desktop PC designs haven’t been innovated on in a long time. Therefore, the company that does so become a leader in the market. From the article:
We’re trained to think that this process is evolutionary, that desktops gave way to laptops, which give way to tablets. But that’s like saying four-door sedans gave way to two-door sedans, which gave way to Mazda Miatas. You can’t live off a cell phone or a 7-inch tablet, yet that’s where the market seems to think evolution is taking us.
I agree with the conclusion of this article, but not the thinking behind the sales decline. I think the real reason they’ve slowed is because, unlike mobile phones and tablets and even laptops, people don’t need a new desktop PC every two years. PCs of five-to-seven years ago are still excellent for everything we need. Even hardcore gamers, who are on the bleeding edge of PC consoles and look down at specialty consoles like the Xbox, rarely need to upgrade to new PCs. Also, there’s the whole being able to upgrade part if you need to.
As an aside, one day our homes are going to get as smart as our gadgets, in which case those homes are going to need brains, central systems, ones that don’t get lost in the couch cushions or dropped in the toilet…and the desktop fits that role like it was invented for it.
But, again, I’m with the author at least on his conclusion. Rumors of the death of the PC are greatly exaggerated. It’ll be reborn, not retired.
At least I hope so. I need some space.