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May 29, 2013

PC or What?

Natural Selection or Survival of the fittest, are phrases we have when reading basic biology and about human evolution. Survival of the fittest has been used in many places. I think it can very well be applied to the devices world which today comprises of PC/desktops, laptops, ultra books, tablets and smart phones.

I just read this blog on death of PC and while the sales surely are dropping, but I feel calling it death of PC is probably a bit too harsh for now. The blog however also makes an interesting point on what PC really is? Going purely by the name, any device that I use for personal computing work, would qualify as personal computer, but if we look at it historically, the name was coined when it was the age of the central mainframe and dump terminals to connect to it. PC, i.e. desktop workstations, brought the processing power to each individual, right on his/her desktop.

Laptops came about and had almost equivalent processing power as the desktops did and provided the additional capability that they could be carried around and had battery for use while in transit. The battery power howerver kind of stagnated, given typically 3-4 hours of life. These are now morphing into Ultrabooks, who are giving a significant boost in the battery power and compete with the battery life offered by tablets and smart phones.

Tablets and Smart phones have seen significant jump in their sales and that's what the IDC report also shows. These devices, while do not replace desktop/laptops completely, but offer significant mobility benefits and also added host of new sensors to the device, which helped create some interesting new applications.

If I look at it, I would say that while workstations may not be getting fresh buy, the existing ones are still here to stay for at least few more years. These and laptops still make the best device when it comes to programming. I don't see the core developer community and research teams shifting tablets or smart phones for their work. The "fittest" device for them, in my opinion is still the workstation or laptop or the new ultra books. The highly visual based industry of movies, animation, game design etc will also continue to use these devices which offer high end processors, memory, storage and also big screens.

On the other hand, I do agree that end consumers or home users, will eventually shift away from workstations or even laptops and converge on tablets and smart phones or a new hybrid device. Given the kind of need for home users, the fittest device does seems to be something towards tablets and smart phones.

Would we end up with something like this?

Ultrabooks for developer community, game designer, researchers, animations, other such heavy duty things

Tablets for home users for games, movies, books, photos, skype etc.

Phones for just making calls, so these will probably be back to the dumb phones where it all started.

What is your take? I would be glad to hear your views.

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