Humble PC is being choked to death by mobile computing devices

Humble PC is being choked to death by mobile computing devices

By Sorab Ghaswalla

Mumbai, February 16, 2013

I intend to dish out today’s column as a warning to all those who are ‘connected’. By that I mean using computing devices to get on to the Internet. For those of you who are still using desktops to log on, you may soon be labelled as the dinosaurs of the computing world.
Desktop computing is on the verge of passing on in the history books, relegated to being dubbed the computer world’s Jurassic, Mesozoic or whatever period you may call it, era. What’s next? If you are still asking this question, you are only underlining my point, it’s time for you to wake up.
Mobile computing is truly here. To stay. The humble PC, once a central point in all our computing lives, is facing an onslaught from mobile devices. Please do not confuse mobile devices with mobile phones, here. By mobile devices I mean smartphones, Tablets, two-in-one laptops, wearable devices, and everything in between. It may just prove to be too much for the table-top computer.
Desktops tie you down. In today’s fast paced, wired world, that’s akin to serving a prison sentence. Who wants to sit at a table and peck away at a keyboard? Today’s online world is moving to a wireless world finding wi-fi hotspots where devices, rather than human beings ‘talk’ to each other. You have to be connected 24X7. Not only at your place of work but while travelling home; at home. 
Things have come to such a pass that there are applications out there that allow you to transfer files and everything else between two smartphones just by touching one phone to the other. The Internet of Things means all your other devices such as your microwave and refrigerators, too, will soon be connected. 
Samsung, for example, is about to launch a new model of a fridge that comes with an Android Tablet. It will be used by the consumer to track how many calories he has consumed on any given day, how fresh is the food inside, and so on. You house will soon have computer voices,
much like Apple iPhone’s voice assistant Siri, updating on everything – from the temperature inside to when to turn on the music. There are already smart cars and smartphones around.
In all this, where do you think the poor PC fits in? It’s dying, I tell you. No wonder, PC sales are at the lowest point in years, they did not even sell during the December holiday season, as much as computing devices.
Here’s evidence. Just two days ago, a report released by Marin Software has forecast that by the end of this year, one-third of Paid Online Search clicks will be done through mobile  devices. One-third! Imagine what will be the case by the end of 2014?
Some software and hardware guys have caught on to the trend early. Microsoft is one of them. See how cleverly it has released the new Operating System Windows 8. This one was hailed as a revolutionary piece of work, aimed largely at the touch device market. Of course it works on a desktop but to be dazzled by it, you really need a Tablet. And of course, for that, you have the just launched Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet. You may have a tough time buying one because it sold out within days of its launch last week.
Online Content Management Systems, too, are being re-worked in a manner that they work better on mobile devices. Recently, a leading CMS provider, CoreMedia launched a mobile-centric Content Management Platform, subtly hinting that the days of the PC may be ending.
For every purpose in life, and more, there are mobile applications. You can monitor weight loss, look up the various postures laid out in the Kamasutra, find your way to the nearest Chinese restaurant or movie hall, spy on your partner; apps are sprouting up faster than you can say, Apps. At last count, Apple had paid, and hold your breath, a total of US $8 billion, to app developers for making apps for its Apple iStore. 
There are millions of apps out there, and many thousands are being added every day. Compare this to the average software like Windows or Linux or whatever needed to power you PC. I mean, there’s no comparison, even. Mobile apps give you the freedom of doing just
about anything with your device.
Even the usual things we do on the PC are being re-done for mobiles. There’s the soon-to-come MailBox (, which will make using an email account on a mobile device, a breeze. All just by touch. Swipe in, swipe out. So popular is this app that even before it’s official launch, there’s a reservation system to get it. Howzzat?
I wouldn’t yet write the epitaph for the desktop, but I guess, that day is not too far away.
Previous columns by Sorab Ghaswalla

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