Friday, August 12, 2011

The end of the PC?

It seems that some experts are now telling us that the PC, as we've come to know it, is reaching the end of its reign.

Ever since IBM launched its industry-defining personal computer way back in 1981, most people have associated home and small-office computing with a beige box having a separate keyboard and monitor. Apparently, now that era is ending.

Thanks to massive improvements in user interfaces and the miniaturisation of processors, memory and other peripherals, we no longer need that box, that bulky monitor, or even that array of push-buttons ordered in a typewriter-like fashion.

Today and tomorrow's computers are far more likely to be as varied in form and style as the PC was fixed.

Notebooks and netbooks have already stolen a significant share of the market in recent years but the newest and most revolutionary form of personal computing has to be the tablet computer and in particular, the iPad.

However, personal computing has long gone past requiring us to use tools with generic capabilities such as web-surfing, word processing and some accounting functions. The arrival of uber-powerful microprocessors has meant that almost every bit of consumer electronics we own has an inbuilt computer which usually performs a specialist task, rather than the more generic role the PC once played.

Instead of listening to audio files on our computers, now we use our iPods or other MP3 players.

Instead of surfing the web and checking our email on a PC, an increasing number of people are performing these tasks through their mobile phones.

Game playing, which was once one of the most popular applications of the home PC has been offloaded to a large degree onto gaming consoles, most of which have internet connectivity.

So, if these experts are correct, the humble PC may be about to become an endangered species, seldom seen in the office or home -- eventually replaced by other smaller, sleeker, more effective and possibly more purpose-specific computing devices.

Alas PC, I knew you well.

Now where did I put that iPad?

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