Mark Twain responded with those words to an article published June 1, 1897, in the New York Herald indicating his imminent death. He lived another 13 years. Today there is a lot of press about the death of the PC. The quote is very apropos to discussions of today’s personal computer longevity.
If you had the money would have just one vehicle to drive? I think not.
On a bright summer’s day is there anything better than a convertible sports car with the top down?
When you need to carry bulky garden items back from Home Depot, or head up a snowy mountain road to the ski resort certainly a 4×4 truck is best.
Heading out for dinner and a concert with friends, a nice four door sedan is the best fit.
Riding the road from Port Alberni to Tofino, British Columbia on Vancouver Island’s west coast, it must be done on a touring motorcycle to enjoy it the best.
Touring North America and wanting overnight stays on the banks of the most beautiful rivers, lakes and oceans, really requires a motorhome for the full effect and maximum fun.
Suffice it to say, there is no one perfect vehicle. This also applies to computing devices, there is no one perfect computing device. They each have a time, place and context in which they are best used; including the PC.
Let’s take the analogy a bit further.
In the “go anywhere” class are the tablets. Lightweight, long battery life, great for viewing the scenery and lousy at complex data entry. It’s a sports car. Not great for all weather conditions but it is fun and you can drive it to work occasionally.
In the “working class” are the classical PC’s. Big engines, high performance, highly versatile, very secure on snowy roads and will carry and do anything with great driver visibility and is intended for maximum productivity.
In the “executive class” are the laptops. Not as powerful as a regular PC (usually), but intended for both office, on the road and home use. It will never have the panoramic visibility or high speed data entry of its classical PC counterpart but wins on mobility and ease of access.
In the “Always connected everywhere” class are smartphones. The applications are simpler and more focused to information absorption than production but they have the advantage of instant communications and collaboration anywhere in an ultra-high mobility mode. It does a few things, very, very well in certain settings. It’s a great motorcycle.
In the “entertainment” class are home entertainment consoles. It is your TV, Game Console, Streamed Music and Movies, Fitness and Health center and Vacation picture display in a box. It does these very unique and very specific activities very, very well but is not intended for you to update an excel spreadsheet with your remote control and has limited usefulness at work. (so far)
Yes there is big growth in both smartphones and tablets. They are great devices but they are also very unlikely to be the only devices a person uses.
· A Tablet does not have the same form factor or power as a PC and therefore will be less productive for high data interaction scenarios. An employer does not want its employees to be less productive at work.
· A Tablet is not an ideal phone. Its larger form factor makes it difficult to put in your pocket.
· A Smartphone is marginal for information consumption and nearly useless for information production because of its form factor and available power.
· A Laptop provides almost the same productivity as a classical PC but always trades off flexibility and power for mobility.
· None of the other devices provides an integrated entertainment experience like a dedicated entertainment console and if it ever has the input capabilities of a PC, then it has effectively become one. (and this may very well happen)
From an architecture perspective cloud services add more capability and power to higher mobility devices such as Tablets and Smartphones, however the physical engineering of the devices for form factor and input will postpone the demise of the PC for a while yet. Over the next decade voice and other human-machine interfaces will bolster the productivity of the smaller form factor devices but in the interim “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.- The PC”