TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Hold the PC obituaries

The desktop PC is unlikely to welcome the next decade in its present form, but it will evolve to keep pace with tablets and smartphones.

Technology Spectator

There was a time when the dominance of the desktop PC in the workplace was unrivalled. From the rarefied confines of the server rooms to inhabiting our work stations, the PC was the bulwark of the modern office. That primacy is now under a cloud and there are many people arguing the age of the desktop PC is over. The dire predictions are fuelled by the proliferation of smart devices and the rapid pace of desktop virtualisation. While it is hard to deny their impact, it may be a bit too early to write off the PC just yet.

The 'Bring Your Own Device' trend, facilitated by the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce, and the shift to the cloud has disrupted the way workplaces operate. Late Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in March this year that the "post-PC" era had begun and more recently senior IBM engineer and one of the dozen who had a hand in building the first IBM PC, Mark Dean, said in a blog post that the PC was on its way to joining the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.

Hewlett Packard’s recent bout of self-doubt regarding the fate of its PC business has further reinforced the idea that there is no future in the PC game. That may be true to some extent, but the presence of the PC is still as strong as ever. There are close to a billion and a half PCs in the world right now and Gartner estimates that number to tick over the two billion mark by 2014. The desktop PC also has a few aces up its sleeve. When it comes to processing, desktops still offer a price performance which mobile devices cannot beat and you still can’t run servers on tablets. The adoption of tablets and smartphones may have taken a bite out of PC sales but the desktop still has plenty of grunt when it comes utility and power compared to its more mobile counterparts.

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