8 Reasons The PC Is Not Dead - InformationWeek
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8 Reasons The PC Is Not Dead

Now that phablets have essentially cannibalized the tablet market, the personal computer has a chance to make a dramatic comeback. Here's why.
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(Image: Geralt via Pixabay)

(Image: Geralt via Pixabay)

The debate about the death of the PC rages on. On one side, you have those who point to dramatic declines of PC and laptop sales over the past few years as proof that the personal computer is on its last legs. On the other side are those who happily list the reasons why PCs -- especially in the enterprise -- are far from extinct.

I happen to believe that the PC is far from dead. In fact, I suspect overall PC and laptop sales to experience a resurgence in the next few years. There are a number of reasons why the PC retains an advantage over alternative devices such as smartphones, tablets, and phablets. While some of these reasons may not be relevant in a consumer world, they are critical for users performing tasks in an enterprise.

Additionally, the personal computer's biggest threat -- the tablet -- is going through a sluggish sales period at the moment. A once-hot tablet market has cooled as users gravitate toward smartphones with large screens that serve a dual purpose. It seems that for many mobile users, a five- or six-inch smartphone screen isn't that much different from an eight- to 10-inch tablet screen when it comes to performing most mobile tasks. That is, unless you're trying to do real work. You know, the kind of work that involves writing for long periods of time or manipulating numbers in spreadsheets and databases.

A vacuum has been created in the world of enterprise productivity devices. A year or two ago, it indeed looked as if the PC would be replaced by the tablet. But now that phablets have essentially cannibalized the tablet market, the personal computer has a chance to make a dramatic comeback.

Here are eight reasons why rumors of the PC's death have been greatly exaggerated. Once you've reviewed them all, let us know what you think. Will the PC live on, or are we flat-out wrong in our predictions? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the ... View Full Bio

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Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 7:19:55 AM
VR
Don't forget VR. Thanks to the power of the platform and the fact that games offer a comparatively stressful way to pioneer virtual world development, the PC will be the driving force behind VR and AR as nothing else out there has the power to deliver it at a high enough frame rate to be comfortable, with a high enough resolution to look real. 
AlurL137
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AlurL137,
User Rank: Strategist
5/12/2015 | 10:18:05 AM
Quality for a few vs quantity for the masses
The average guy who is addicted to her/his phone/tablet are the public who never understand PCs if they ever had one. They are the ones whose desktops were full of malware in the 1st year of ownership and dependent on techs to get them out of their messes. While they upgrade their phones every 2 aor 3 years, they didn't understand that desktops need the same upgrades. The cost of upgrades on phones is absorbed in a monthly fee and "free" incentives which are actaully must part of the billing. They remember that expenses of a PC have to be paid all at once.

The smart phones are a dumbed down way to interact on the internet which is all most people need. For those who require Office, graphics, storage, and speed, the phone and tablets will never do. When I get snooty, I tell those with phone addicitons that my graphic card cost more than their phone, hehe, but that just adds fuel to the fire for those who had bad experiences with desktops.
Jamescon
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Jamescon,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2015 | 11:13:32 AM
A couple more reasons
@Andrew. You have 8 good reasons for the rebirth of the PC. I'll suggest two more reasons to bring it to a nice, even 10.

9. Ergonomics. I love the convenience that comes with the computing power of a phone or even a notebook. You can access data from more places faster than ever. However, I don't want to do any significant typing or working with apps like Excel on a phone or phablet. Doing "desktop style" work on a mini-device is slower and often more painful (hands, back, eyes). Plus, there are factors such as scrolling across and swiping just to see a viewable image.

10.Product life. The days of turning over a PC inventory every two or three years are long gone. That cycle was rooted in 20 years of Microsoft and other software vendors rolling out "enhancements" on a regular schedule. Each version was fatter than the other, and of course releasing a new version of Windows meant releasing new versions of Office or Lotus or any other app. Fatter apps called for more memory, more storage, and greater processor speed (Intel was fine with that). With today's PCs you can have your apps in the cloud or at the desktop, and you have the same option for your data. So, a company or an individual won't have to spend $2,000 to $4,000 every two or three years just to keep pace with the software sector. Maybe we can stretch future PCs into a 5-year or even 10-year lifecycle. How many phones and tablets might last 5 years?
keitha0000
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keitha0000,
User Rank: Strategist
5/12/2015 | 1:02:48 PM
Re: A couple more reasons
We have missed the single biggest reason why the desktop PC will not die: It is designed for the content creator. Other platforms; phones, tablets, phablets; are designed for content consumption. Now while it may be true that there are some limited content creation capabilities on the other platforms, most content creators absolutely must have a desktop (or notebook) Windows PC or Mac to create professional content.

As a content creator, reading articles about the impending "death" of the PC, always seemed to me to be a little bit naive and not really based on the complete spectrum of what PCs are actually used for.

 
dried_squid
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dried_squid,
User Rank: Moderator
5/12/2015 | 2:42:01 PM
Re: A couple more reasons
Good distinctions - content creator and content consumer.

    If I can only have one device, choosing for content creation seems to have more of a future.

    If I can have two devices, choosing a backup for content creation and storage strategies is appealing.

    If I can have three devices, now I can select for content consumption.

    BTW when one maintains two devices, proper maintenance, upgrades, and future-proofing increases. Or, one can share it all in the clouds.
Jamescon
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Jamescon,
User Rank: Author
5/13/2015 | 3:53:40 PM
Re: A couple more reasons
@Keith. Interesting point about content creation vs content consumption. If you are primarily a content creator then a PC/notebook may be right for you because you can still consume content just fine on that rig. The funny thing about the content consumer as a primary role is that they also tend to be content creators, even if they don't realize it. Typing "LOL" may not be creation, but editing a photo or video prior to posting on social media certainly is, and long comments, on blogs certainly is creation. Will those content consumers eventually want a hybrid device that is at least a little more friendly when it comes to typing and working with multiple data types? Does the phablet fill the role? Does something along the lines of a Chromebook? Or, will those users just trade off some functionality for portability and accessibility?
dbrisco863
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dbrisco863,
User Rank: Strategist
5/12/2015 | 1:38:08 PM
The PC was never even sick let alone dead.
In general when at a desk you are not going to reach for a tablet instead of the desk top computer. Tablets are as one commenter already noted are better as consumption devices and as a work tool have always been something tht allows you to do some work when away from the desk. So until we eliminate desk jobs the PC wil stay.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 8:12:04 PM
Re: The PC was never even sick let alone dead.
The whole 'consumption device' thing is a bit of a vast oversimplification. Sure, there are the clear cases, like watching a movie or reading a book in bed is way better on a tablet... setting up a 3D animation scene is way better on a desktop.

But, the inbetween can be quite gray. If a doctor is using a tablet to input information during a patient visit, that might actually be far easier than having to roll over to, or sit at a desktop/laptop to do the same thing. And, that's not a clear-cut case of 'consumption' either.

And, as I said in one of my other posts, it's often more a matter of context that determins which is better suited, or even possible, for the same type of task.

Microsoft didn't fail at tablets for many years for lack of trying. The problem was that they were approaching the tablet like a more mobile laptop (and arguably still are). That simply isn't the case... and that's why they aren't going away (nor are desktops). It has little to do with computing power into a particular package size, though that certainly influences the possibilities.
rjones2818
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rjones2818,
User Rank: Strategist
5/12/2015 | 1:58:29 PM
I think the death of the PC as we know it has happeneed.
This doesn't mean that there won't be desktops/laptops.  They have become/are becoming dumb terminals with onboard processing thanks to the cloud.  Think Chromebook.  If this is good or not, we should know reasonably soon. Also, keep in mind that XP has set a pretty high standard for how long an enterprise level OS can be useful.  I think relyinig on 'real' work to reinvigorate the PC market is wishful thinking.
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 2:41:09 PM
Desktop isn't dead, but...
Andrew, I certainly agree with your main point, but disagree that tablets are in trouble. For example, I own an iPad and a MacBook Air. Both are nearly as portable, but they have very different uses, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

And, this is a point Microsoft doesn't seem to get yet... a mobile device, regardless of size and processing power, is a different kind of UI experience with different purpose and application.

A desktop or laptop is always going to be more productive for a certain set of tasks. But, at the same time, a mobile device is going to be more productive, or especially, more appropriate for another. If I'm going to meet a client or business associate, etc. at a coffee shop for a conversation, I'm probably going to take my iPad. I typically don't need to take a lot of notes and can easily do so on a device that is much less socially intrusive (especially if the person I'm meeting has no device in use). Or, if I'm on a ride into the city on public transit, it's far easier to use an iPad or phablet than pulling out a laptop, no matter how small the laptop is. It's just a totally different kind of interaction.

Yes, the gap has been closed in a few major areas, between laptop and tablet that has impacted the rapid rise of tablet sales. I'd say that first among these is battery life. With more efficient processors and better batteries, it's much closer these days. That's one of the primary reasons I initially went tablet, as I needed more than 3 hours of computing time away from a power-source. The other is portability, though as an Apple user, I guess I've been kind of spoiled for many years in that regard. (Where my wife works, most of the company issued laptops stay in the office, while the employees have found 'hack' ways to use iPads, etc. because their laptops are true boat-anchors!)

But, that doesn't mean tablets are in any danger, just that maybe the initial enthusiasm was a bit much, and that people aren't going to replace a $600 device every couple of years. The other problem was that many of the Android tablets were so horrible, I'm sure there are a lot of people who got burned and now think tablets are fairly useless.

Another point I might take issue with is your comment concerning the enterprise. While true, the enterprise is going to become less relevant in the big picture of future business. But that's a whole other discussion.

Ultimately, I think there is a lot of room for desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones (phablets)... they each have their advantages and disadvantages. None of them, IMO, are going away or are in much danger. The big question is - if one were forced to only pick one or two (for economic reasons, etc.) - which would they choose? That will probably become the biggest driver of any kind of major shift.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
5/12/2015 | 6:15:01 PM
Re: Desktop isn't dead, but...
The issue can be put as simply as "it sucks to type lengthy articles on a touchscreen."
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 8:02:39 PM
Re: Desktop isn't dead, but...
Heh! For sure...

but more than that actually. Certain types of input are more efficient with a touch-based UI, while others are far better with a mouse. Then there are the phyiscal constraints and advantages of each.

Like I said, they are just relatively different for different purposes.

And yes, typing up long documents on a touch-screen is a bit of a pain, until you're on a flight and only a tablet will fit and you actually get something typed up that you wouldn't have otherwise, etc. Prior to updating my iPad 2 to iOS 8, I could type reasonably on it (30 wpm consistently up to almost 40 at times),  to be quite honest. But, it's a more fatiguing, tedious process for sure.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 9:46:28 PM
Re: Desktop isn't dead, but...
Nothing makes me smirk more than when people pull out those rubbery, uncomfortable looking keyboards to use with their iPads. I feel for those people. In most cases, they must have been assigned a desktop at work and have no choice but to bring their tablets into meetings to take notes. If they have a laptop and have a choice, though, I scratch my head in disbelief. What are they thinking?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 10:12:20 PM
Performance, Performance, Performance !

I certainly don't think the PC is dead by any means - laptops are nice and usually meet most basic needs but there are times as noted in the article that performance is needed and when that times comes - individuals will be extremely happy to have a PC.

kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2015 | 5:28:34 PM
performance and upgradability
Both performance and upgradability are the ones that do it for me. (Not to mention trying to squint at the little screen while tying as my phones auto correct feature starts mucking with my sentences.) My tablet is fine for browsing the web or playing clash of clans or check my email. It is not fine for composing a post over a sentence long, playing anything remotely graphics heavy, or doing things I might actually get paid for. I have more devices in my house than I can shake a stick at and I can count four of them as PC's/laptops. Two are waiting for upgrades, but once my tablet gets slow it's a goner.
anibande76
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anibande76,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2015 | 12:48:44 AM
PC is dead
What if you have an option to connect your mobile device to a larger screen as and when required, somtthing like a Windows 10 OS.
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