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The once mighty PC treads a path towards extinction

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[W]hile PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.

That’s a strong statement by Mark Dean, made even stronger when you consider his credentials. Dean is IBM’s(s ibm) Chief Technology Officer for the company’s Middle East and Africa region. If that doesn’t lend credence, perhaps this will: Dean was on the team of 12 engineers that designed the original IBM 5150 Personal Computer, which celebrates its 30-year anniversary tomorrow.

Yet with such a rich personal computing history behind him, Dean says he’s moved on from traditional computers already; he now favors a tablet as his primary device.

Dean suggests that new computing ideas such as social networks and consumer interaction are pushing the PC aside. I agree; these activities are mobile by their very nature, and so are the devices that enable them.

That’s why smartphone sales began to surpass that of PC sales earlier this year and why there’s a fast-growing market for portable tablets powered by low-powered smartphone components. Mobile apps that offer bite-sized but specific functionality paired with small connected devices are the new tools of choice for many: Even for one of the men who helped design the first popular PC.

6 Responses to “The once mighty PC treads a path towards extinction”

  1. Why are tablets, smart phones and PC considered different devices? They are at their heart nearly the same hardware merely in different form factors. Tablets and smart phones, to me, are merely an evolution of the PC. Tablets and smart phones are still general use devices. Whether its gaming, blogging, photo editing, web browsing, etc… I basically do the same thing on all three devices. The only thing that has changed is a question of mobility and input method.

    If this the argument that is going to be made, then PC’s died years ago when notebooks surged in sales. Smart phones and tablets then are not killing the PC…it was already dead. Tablets and smart phones are killing notebooks.

  2. I beleive we still have a long way to go before considering pc going extent like a typewriter, etc. There r lots reasons to support my views: When we talk about portable tablets still they are being used by tech savvy individuals still away from common mass, the price constraint of this products, adaptability of this tech gadgets. In short we are still a long way to go!!!!

  3. I agree with what Paul has written. There are certain tasks which will most likely never be transfered to a tablet. Off the top of my head, AutoCAD and most general engineering design work comes to mind, in part because that is what I do. The reasons are multiple: processing power is critical for many specialized engineering programs, so tablets won’t be efficient even if the software is developed specifically for them. The use of multiple screens is invaluable in engineering work, as well as many other disciplines. I have a friend who was a financial analyst on Wall Street. He had six monitors. His boss had nine. Can’t do that with a tablet. Finally text entry is currently difficult on a tablet, and most tablets do not have the multitasking capabilities I use when trying to write while researching and collating information. Sure, the multitasking issues may get better, but the need for a physical keyboard will always be there (at least to some extent). And using a physical keyboard makes the use of a touch screen less convenient.

    Yes, a lot of work will transfer to tablets. Especially for people who move around throughout the day (such as doctors), the flexibility, portability, and long battery life will drive adoption. But the PC will not be extinct in my lifetime, and I doubt ever.

  4. Sumit Mittal

    More than the PC desktops, I believe laptops will have a bigger challenge. People will need high end machines to perform tasks such as: Programming, designing, etc – for which laptop might not be the best option. For other tasks there will be tablets/ipads, etc. No room for laptops…..

  5. I don’t want to be a downer, but Mr. Dean is only stating the obvious when he says that the tablet will surpass the PC, ‘eventually’. Any technology can replace another when their functionality overlap and the new technology reaches a convergence of price, power, and convenience.

  6. I can see voice recognition replacing keyboards in some environments but not others (working in that coffee house…). And we’ll need larger displays not shared with the family’s TV habits. Nah, I’ll keep my PC for a while, but look forward to seeing what Mr. Dean has in mind.