Are New Technologies Going To Make The Traditional PC A Niche?

There is plenty of debate and opinions surrounding the long-term viability of the tablet computer.

Many argue that they are bulkier than smartphones yet have very few different capabilities and aren’t nearly as robust as laptops.

Many of the arguments against the viability and long-term sustainability of the platform sounds more like users that are resisting change than compelling argument.

I do think that today’s ‘tablets’ are very different from what we will see in the next decade or so, but I do believe they represent a very clear revolution and evolution of the PC platform.

Smartphones might be similar but you don’t want to give to give your two year old a smartphone, I wouldn’t think.

There was a time when Americans thought it was crazy to have more than one TV in the household, it was impractical and expensive. Many also believed it would divide the family, while one TV could theoretically be used to bring families together.

Whether or not it really divided families is up to your own opinion, but today’s average household not only has more than one TV, it often has at least one TV per person living in the household, and sometimes even more than that.

The same thing once was true about the PC, as well. Most users had only one PC, but somewhere in the early 2000s this began to change for many users.

The tablet is even closer to making a ‘one device for every family member’ goal come true. Tablets are cheap, easy-to-use, and offer the perfect solution for gaming, net browsing, and other basic content-consumption needs.

Sure, the PC is still the better choice for projects like essays in school, but for a student using the tablet as a book for research is actually rather handy.

The days of multi-PCs per household is likely dwindling in my opinion. Instead, one likely archaic PC box will exist in a home for ‘research/content creation’ purposes and then each individual member will instead have tablets.

In theory, this could mean the need to have the ‘newest’ and most up to date PC could lessen, and this would mean users would be more likely to keep the same hardware for 3-7 years, instead changing out for new tablets every 2-3 years.

I have no way of saying whether this could come true or not, but I think it is certainly possible. Tablets, smartphones, and other innovations like the ‘multimedia hubs’ in the living room (such as the next Xbox) will make the PC less and less relevant to future generations.

I don’t think that new technologies like tablets are the nail in the coffin for the PC, but it certainly puts the PC on the back burner in favor of emerging devices.

In another decade or two? I think that PCs could certainly become niche devices in the home, though their place in businesses and research facilities is likely going to be preserved for many years to come.

Like it or not, we are a society that thrives on convenience and both desktops and laptops alike aren’t nearly as convenient of a solution as they were in years past. In less developed countries though, I anticipate the desktop and laptop has a much longer and prosperous future.

What do you think? Will tablets, multimedia technologies, and other mobile solutions make the traditional PC merely a niche item or does the PC still have many decades ahead of it?

Share your thoughts below.

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  • ECM2

    Since all these techs are getting cheaper and better, it is likely that in the future each person will have the following devices: (1) a smartphone, (2) a tablet/laptop/convertible, and (3) a large-screen desktop/tabletop with a variety of input devices, including motion and gesture sensors.  Other devices will be shared (e.g. flat screens on walls or ceilings) and controlled using mobile devices (phones/tablets) or 
    motion and gesture sensors.

  • Mike Burroughs

    I think PC’s will never go away because the creative, industrial and development worlds rely so heavily on them. I can’t imagine Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Visual on a tablet or smartphone.  Not to mention, while tablets get smaller and “smarter”, the back-end has to get bigger.  I can access all my files on my iPhone only because the server rack in my basement makes it possible.
    In short, yes, the consumer will see far less of the PC, but the business person, the inventor, the designer and the programmer will all continue to rely on it as the backbone of digital creation.

  • Konanyao

    I don’t think so.
    However PC need to evolve, and no i do not consider tablet as the next step in the traditionnal PC evolution, even if tablet can be considered PC, although limited one.
    PC need to be faster, much faster.
    Desktop need to evolve toward apps and media hub.
    Laptop need to become way lighter, slimmer and behave more like devices. They need also to support dock which can expand all their capabilities.

  • Guest

    I suspect that traditional PCs, including desktops, have many years ahead of them. I do not believe that desktops are “archaic,” and I am also surprised by how limited smartphones still are compared to desktops. I do not believe that PCs will become niche items – many people will continue to use them in the same way they are used now. The limitations of the Metro interface on dekstops are a good example of the capabilities of PCs – Metro is limited and sometimes unusable, while a traditional PC interface can be used for almost anything that can be done using a digital device.