What Ever Happened to the Desktop PC?

by Tori Johnson on June 8, 2011

Desktop PC

Remember when only nerds used computers? Once the sole domain of techies and hobbyists, now everyone from Starbucks hipsters and glammed-up fashionistas swear by technology making everyday users a driving force behind the ways we use computers.

One of the directions the average computer user (i.e. practically everyone on Earth) is going – likely forever – is away from the desktop.

In a world where laptops, smartphones and the like have penetrated well beyond “early-adopters,” we thought it would be neat to take a look at a question you might not have bothered asking lately: What ever happened to the desktop PC?

In order of ascending relevance:

The rise of smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and SaaS

Why email and surf the web at your desk when you can do it from your living room home entertainment centre, or a blissful grassy field, or your favorite café? Why sit at a table when you can stand, exercise, recline or lie down with something about the size and weight of a book? Tablet PCs such as the Apple iPad and Blackberry Playbook are not only putting the PC out of business, they’re doing a pretty good job of doing the same thing to the dedicated e-reader.

PC sales have already plateaued

In a graph produced by CNN Money http://www.defence.pk/forums/economy-development/69338-end-desktop-pc.html sales of PCs declined between 2007 and 2009, then rose slightly in 2009/2010, where they were projected to level-off at 2014 and beyond. In some way – at least for a while, as with typewriters – we’ll always need desktops for one business application or another.

The cost of services for portable devices has dropped dramatically

This isn’t so much a matter of service plans for smartphones getting cheaper so much as the ability of those devices to tap-in to cheap, widespread wireless Internet access in your house and in almost every urban setting you can imagine.

The power of portable devices has risen dramatically

Say what you will about tablets still not being able to hold a candle to high-end laptops (which is true)…That the iPad has started to gain a critical mass of users is a testament to how much more useful and enjoyable it is, compared to the failed attempts at introducing tablets into the market almost a decade ago.

Why have a desktop computer at your desktop when you can have a portable device hooked up to a large monitor and keyboard?

A few years ago (around 2007) the Miami-based One Laptop Per Child foundation revelled in the fact that they were sending bare-bones $100 laptops to the developing world.

Now, in 2011, you can buy a real – albeit entry-level – laptop for $199 at many big box stores.

With decent laptops starting at a little more than twice that price, the single biggest death knell for the desktop could be that in an age when every computing device needs to be portable, the desktop is tethered to the last place that people succeed in business these days: their desk.

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