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The Passing of the Personal Computer Era 329

An anonymous reader writes "AllThingsD columnist Arik Hesseldahl noticed another milestone marking the passing of the personal computer era: for the first time since the early '80s, the share of worldwide sales of DRAM chips consumed by PCs (desktop and laptop computers, but not tablets) has dropped below fifty percent. Perhaps a more important milestone was reached last year, when more smartphones were shipped (not sold) worldwide than the combined total of PCs and tablets (also noticed by Microsoft watcher Joe Wilcox). While this is certainly of tremendous marketing and business importance to the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and PC OEMs, others may reflect on the impending closing of the history books on the era that started in Silicon Valley a little over 35 years ago."
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The Passing of the Personal Computer Era

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  • For the basic user, desktop and laptop hardware is now Good Enough and has been for a while. You do not, in actual fact, need dual quad-core processors, 24GB of DDR1600 memory, or the latest Radeon 7000 series or nVidia Kepler video card to check your email, surf Youtube, and edit your TPS reports. So a lot of people have no need to buy a new computer regularly now. Furthermore, computers have gotten cheap. So much so that almost everyone who has any want for a desktop or laptop, has one. Laptops and especially desktops don't have the faux "oh, your styling is out of date! You need to replace your car that will be perfectly good for another ten years!" thing going on that phones to some extent do.

    So color me shocked: A mature and saturated market isn't growing 20% per annum, and is in fact shrinking relative to its size at the peak of growth! Meanwhile, servers always need MOAR POWAH so hardware there is more likely to keep churning. It's not like this isn't a predictable curve for every not-freshly-disrupted market (surprise: There's only 1 maker of gigantic utility-size power transformers anymore. I guess utility transformers are dying too), and yet it seems that every month this year there's been a breathless "Oh, let us lament the passing of the PC and the Laptop, for they are dying!" article posted. PCs are "dying" like file sharing is "dying": it's saturated at "everyone has one and does it."
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:06PM (#41353135) Journal

    I wonder how many tablets are nothing more than multimedia devices... I know that's the only appeal they have for me, and every time I think about it, I realize my old, $100 netBook does the job better than any tablet could in most cases. Would we be so excited about these sales figures if, when PC sales slowed down, it was portable DVD players sales that went through the roof, and started requiring a big fraction of chip production? Would we still have the same doomsday predictions for PCs?

    From what I've seen, the only places where tablets replace laptops, is where folks just about only used them to launch Citrix, making it just a thin client, with some games, music, and movie watching built-in. And even there, you're buying a keyboard to go with it, and this is nothing a real laptop couldn't do, and better.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:34PM (#41353381)

    every time I think about it, I realize my old, $100 netBook does the job better than any tablet could in most cases.

    Boot time, battery life, and hot laps

    I have a netbook with androidx86 installed on it so its basically a keyboard equipped tablet. Doesn't get too much use compared to the ipad because:

    Pickup and go "boot" time of androidx86 netbook is about 180 seconds, "boot" time of ipad is about 2 seconds to hit button and unlock

    Battery life of netbook is 2 hours, ipad is ... I donno but its apparently way longer than I'm willing to work on something in one sitting. Every time I use the netbook I have to plan, OK, now when the battery dies I'll either switch to ... or plug in to charge there... or ...

    Netbook is too hot to handle, literally, after an hour or two. Fan is loud and completely ineffective. ipad never gets too warm to handle and no fan and no cooling vents to block.

    I would assume an android tablet is equally useful, not ipad specific... basically my android phone with a bigger screen would be a really nice tablet.

    I find I task switch with the ipad a lot. Not switch apps inside the ipad, but in real life. I would not be patient enough to boot up a desktop / laptop / netbook to check the weather. Would I pick up a ipad and "button" "swipe" "click" to check the weather, sure, it only takes 5 seconds. You don't talk about a geographic location in theory, you just google map it. I've got a, one, minute this morning to check my email. Do I spend three minutes booting the desktop or fifteen seconds on the ipad? Lots of little task switching like that.

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:29PM (#41353811)

    Dude. We have to educate you about virtual machines. Time to recycle and reclaim!

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle