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Preparing For Life After the PC 636

Posted by timothy
from the pieces-are-all-in-place dept.
New submitter Doctor_Jest links to a recent I, Cringely column, in which Cringely "is speculating how the world will look when the 'Post-PC' era is in full swing." He makes the case that in just a few upgrade cycles, extensible phones and other devices, coupled with remotely stored data, could replace most of today's conventional PCs — but also admits he thought this transition would have already happened.
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Preparing For Life After the PC

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  • by DL117 (2138600) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:27AM (#40581623) Homepage
    Remember what we can do with computers now, because if the industry has it's way, within a few years technology more capable than various sizes of smartphones will be unheard of.
    • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:40AM (#40581677)

      I know, stupid me, I never thought of not being able to buy parts.... I just thought I could put the PC in a cupboard and still access it. (High end sound, graphics processing, etc...)

      What becomes of media creators? Do we have to buy more and more dedicated gadgets?

      • by wet-socks (635030) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:53AM (#40581745)

        What becomes of media creators? Do we have to buy more and more dedicated gadgets?

        The media creators will still have their toys, but this is all about the media consumers. Big money hates that every joe can create content and IP without them getting a cut, so they're pushing for a (licenced) media delivery only internet and killing the tools end users have for being creative.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          The media creators will still have their toys, but this is all about the media consumers. Big money hates that every joe can create content and IP without them getting a cut, so they're pushing for a (licenced) media delivery only internet and killing the tools end users have for being creative.

          Persactly. I worked in big arse joe (main stream media), now I'm indie and I'm loving cheap media tools, subscribing and loving. Will I still get them? Can I still use the linux toolchain I have built for my work? Or

          • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:01AM (#40582167)

            The "post-PC" meme is a false one, so you're safe. Yeah, a lot of stuff will change and morph, but consumers will swallow almost any false meme with a little ketchup or hot sauce.

            The fact is: all of these items are personal computers. Some of your stuff will be on other people's computers, a/k/a "the cloud". The cloud offers some cool storage (albeit not very reliable and often highly proprietary in accessibility) and some great apps, single-user and group.

            Spit the bait out of your mouth and continue to watch neat stuff appear in the market place. PCs come in lots of form factors from Raspberry Pis, smartstuff, clothing, iGoo, and will continue to morph. If you want to buy and use a traditional tower PC with discrete monitor, etc., do it. Or choose from a wide variety of, yes, PCs.

            • by Burz (138833)

              Phones/tablets don't come with the same expectations that the user can modify both what's in the case (hardware) and on the HD (software) with any compatible off-the shelf product. Not only may you lose support for attempting unsanctioned mods, but you could find yourself blocked from the net or charged with a crime. They are not PCs because the 'personal' in the acronym denotes a certain minimum amount of user control. When we start with PCs and remove a lot of control from them, we call them thick clients

      • by pmontra (738736)

        What became of auto repairers? Want to repair a *your favorite brand here* car? Buy the tools from *your favorite brand here*, that is the hardware and software you need to interface the car electronics.

        This has always been true for software developers but sometimes only on very loose terms: want to develop a desktop application for Windows? Get a Windows licence from Microsoft but buy the hardware from any manufacturer. It was car like at the time of mainframes and it got car like again a few years ago: wa

    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:04AM (#40581793) Homepage

      You still need some kind of development platform for the mobile devices, so the PC will still be around. And a lot of work done in reality still requires a PC.

      Of course - you may argue that you will use the cloud, but the cloud isn't always accessible.

      • by ubrgeek (679399) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:20AM (#40581879)
        100 percent true. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do coding on a tablet's keyboard. And as soon as I start carrying a keyboard around (and a mouse, assuming the keyboard doesn't have a trackpad. It's not ergonomically feasible to have a keyboard but still use the tablet's screen as a mouse) then it's a PC. And if I need to use a Wacom tablet-like device? Will I also be drawing on the tablet that I'm supposed to be looking at? It's no different than the Newton (or even the Microsoft web-TV thing) - They kept saying you could add peripherals like a keyboard and hard drive, etc. At that point it's a PC, no matter what you call it.
        • by santosh.k83 (2442182) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:44AM (#40582053)

          I guess the bigger issue is not the form factor of future computers, but their capabilities. Will I be able to easily install an OS of my choice? Will I be able to develop for it without too many restrictions? Will I be able to modify it's bootloader and/or firmware? Will I be able to connect together diverse peripherals from many different manufacturers for the functionality I desire? Can I retain most of the functionality of the system even without an Internet connection?

          Currently you can do all these with today's PCs. But will it remain so in the future?

        • by Mad Marlin (96929) <cgore@cgore.com> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @01:26PM (#40583243) Homepage

          I actually did this a few weeks ago, I lived Cringley's dream, and it sucks. My phone is the Samsung Galaxy S II, which just had the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" release for it on T-Mobile, my carrier. That means that I can now plug my phone into my monitor via HDMI (with a cheap cable), type with a bluetooth keyboard, and use a bluetooth mouse. I went and bought those three things the day after I upgraded the phone. I used it for about an hour. It just isn't a usable setup.

      • the cloud isn't always accessible.

        I hate the concept of 'the cloud' as much as any legitimate developer, but...

        as I write this on a cross-country train with no wifi, I would have to disagree with you.

    • by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:15AM (#40581851)

      Of course. Plus, I'm sure they would shit their pants with glee if the average person was out there replacing their computer as often as they're replacing their phone.

      One can't ignore the benefit to the industry of throwaway electronics. When your PC breaks, you can take it to a shop and have someone attempt to repair it. When your phone breaks, you go to your carrier, get a replacement (either out of pocket, or via insurance, but either way they're getting paid), and the broken one gets sent back to be refurbished (and sold AGAIN at a profit) or ends up in a landfill.

      Also, from a software standpoint, what's going to happen in this glorious "post-PC era" when half the devices out there are locked down to the point where they can only run "approved" software? We're going to have to hack our shit just to get back the ability to install and run whatever the fuck we want on our devices? Come on....

      They can have my PC when they pry it from my cold, dead hands...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JMJimmy (2036122)

      lol - I love how ridiculous this articles are. Desktop PCs are not going anywhere. Laptops are great, phones & pdas are great in a pinch but nothing compares to a triple monitor beast to mess around with. If anything I see PCs becoming more relevant with wireless display tech. 1 computer, multiple users, multiple displays. No need to sync because it's all on one system. The cloud will be based out of the home and you access it from anywhere.

      • This isn't going to happen on Windows. Could finally be the year of Linux on the desktop, though. Windows EULA specifically prohibits one shared computer with multiple users without a license for each user. Run any microsoft app, like Office, and you are doubly screwed. If a person wanted to be legal, this setup would cost a fortune, because you are really getting into Windows Server territory.

        I've set up a desktop Linux (Ubuntu) with FreeNX. Holy cow, we are just a Linux-based Quickbook client away from ta

        • by Patch86 (1465427) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @12:09PM (#40582655)

          This isn't going to happen on Windows. Could finally be the year of Linux on the desktop, though. Windows EULA specifically prohibits one shared computer with multiple users without a license for each user.

          Citation on that please.

          Windows has the capability to have multiple users, with multiple passwords, built right in. I can't remember the last home PC I've had that hasn't had a separate user profile for every person in the house (plus guest). And they've never tried to extract more money out of me. Why would they put that option in there if it were illegal?

          Back when I lived with my parents, there was one desktop computer shared by four people. Maybe this is a "youth of today" attitude- where it is now practically unthinkable that people might not have at least one computer each...

      • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:51AM (#40582523) Homepage

        You could have bothered to even skim TFA.

        The argument being made is that the PC is going to be replaced with a mobile device, that can connect wirelessly to any keyboard, mouse, screen(s) at hand. This makes perfect sense. If I can essentially carry a PC in my pocket and wield all that power both while on the move (on the device itself) and through wireless docking, why not?

        Granted, there are a lot of obstacles to overcome. But I don't have a need for a huge box under my desk if it fits in my pocket and does the same thing.

      • by zentec (204030) * <zentec@gmailPERIOD.com minus punct> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:58AM (#40582581)

        I don't disagree with your sentiments, but we're in the minority my friend. For most people, they want cheap, fast and easy access to Facebook, email and Angry Birds. You don't need a PC for that.

        PCs, like most consumer electronic devices, become a commodity, disposable and then deprecated. When was the last time you fixed a VCR? When they came out, it was cheaper to have someone fix them. And then, if you had some repair skills, you could order parts for any VCR on the market. Now, just try to buy a VCR. Consumer electronics move toward no user serviceable parts; just look at the latest crop of ultra-thin laptops.

        There will always be a need for PCs in the workplace and in software development. But their utility is going to be come very niche and they're well on their way to being replaced for most uses; just like the VCR.

    • There is all this hype about PCs disappearing but I don't think it is going to happen, even among regular users. Fir instance, seeing recent conversation from someone posting from their tablet on a blog, they made the comment, "I do a better write-up when I get to a real computer." Anecdotal to be sure, but it revealed to me that people are going to want every device they can get their hands on. There is a lot of talk as though users can't wait to ditch their PCs but this is not a reflection of reality.

    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @01:19PM (#40583193)

      Maybe we'll be back to the day when only nerds and smart people have computers, everyone else will just have gadgets.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @02:29PM (#40583741) Journal

      We're not gonna lose squat because the "industry" has done this dance before and been full of shit then and is full of shit now. Anybody remember "We are all gonna use thin clients hooked to the net! No more bugs, no more upgrades!" remember that? Right before the dotbomb blew up I swear every pundit was cranking out those articles. if Cringely was writing then i wouldn't be surprised if he was doing the thin client shuffle too.

      Now y'all listen to old Hairy, I've been down here in the trenches since the days of Win 3.x so I know what is what and here is the scoop: Those people with the smartphones and tablets? Yeah well guess what? They all have PCs as well and in fact many of them have multiple. Most have a desktop AND a laptop or netbook.

      So why the big slowdown in sales? because there IS NO SLOWDOWN the only "slowdown" is in the minds of the OEMs and MSFT who got spoiled rotten by the "MHz Wars" and people chunking PCs every 2 years. The simple fact is those circa 2006 Phenom Is and Athlon X2 and Core duos simply have more cycles than the users need and when the price of triples and quads dropped in 2008 computers went from "good enough" to "insanely overpowered" because the users simply don't have enough useful work to stress these monsters. Hell once we got the P4 Mobiles out of the channel folks aren't even stressing the Core Duo and Turion laptops so unless they drop them they ain't dying either, because as we all know its heat that kills and what they are doing simply isn't pushing them hard enough.

      So while we'll probably see an uptick as XP reaches EOL the simple fact is the PC is NOT GOING AWAY but instead has become a mature commodity item, simple as that. I have YET to meet anyone who has thrown out their PC for a smartphone, and the clueless like Cringely don't even take into account how truly shitty the networks are in most of the USA or the fact that those with smartphones and tablets already have PCs and laptops, they are simply hanging onto what they have until it breaks. We WILL see the same thing in ARM in a couple of years, there is already talk of "dark silicon" because ARM will have more transistors than battery to feed them and when it can't continue the MHz War just like X86 things will settle back down and folks won't replace until they die.

      So don't listen to Bob, it's the same crap they tried selling us during the dotbomb because it makes the corps a LOT of money to be able to sell constantly replaced hardware and have control of everybody's data. Instead listen to Hairy who is down here in the trenches and I can tell you I haven't seen a single person toss their PC for a phone, not one. Folks simply see no need to act like the days of the MHz wars because even that low end Athlon triple can game and do anything your average person wants to do. Its just the market maturing folks, no need to panic.

  • Post PC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:27AM (#40581625) Homepage

    Hmm, there is going to be a continuing and significnt need for a device that has a real keyboard for all the people who write a lot of text every day; substantial local CPU power and storage for people that do stuff like development, modeling and simulations; good screens and specialized input devices for people that do graphical design CAD and the like.

    Now, that device might not be an X86 box that runs Windows, so in that sense it may well be "Post PC". But to all intents and purposes it will look and act very much like the laptop and desktop machines i have today.

    • Re:Post PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#40581655)
      The "post-PC" world will look very much like the "post-book" world looks right now. *glances towards the large bookshelf to the right*
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The "post-PC" world will look very much like the "post-book" world looks right now. *glances towards the large bookshelf to the right*

        You grew up in the book era and take books for granted. The next generation might think of bookshelves as something that their grandparents have.

        • Re:Post PC (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:29AM (#40581949)

          Until the power goes out and they can't recharge their Kindle...then they're going to be right back to the books. Let's ask all those people living in those areas of the U.S. that have been without power for the last 3-4 days how well their eBooks are working out for them now...

          I'll believe that eBooks are going to kill off paper books when the automobile succeeds in killing off the bicycle. I mean, it's only been a century or so, but I'm sure it's gonna happen eventually...

          We all grew up with electricity, and those magic outlets have been ubiquitous for a century, but all it takes is one extended period without power for people to realize that they need a fucking back-up plan, and until we come up with portable cold-fusion reactors for every home, that's not likely to change.

          • Until the power goes out and they can't recharge their Kindle...then they're going to be right back to the books. Let's ask all those people living in those areas of the U.S. that have been without power for the last 3-4 days how well their eBooks are working out for them now...

            Honestly, I doubt that they're worried about what to read at this point.

          • Re:Post PC (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Post-O-Matron (1273882) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:02AM (#40582169)

            The Kindle's battery lasts for a month. I think if the power is out for a whole month there would be much bigger things that we'll be worried about than charging our Kindles...

          • Re:Post PC (Score:4, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @04:33PM (#40584967) Journal

            Not to mention I'm in charge of bringing my elderly mother to the library so she can drop off another donation of 70s Sci/Fi and Horror and get herself some books to read, know what happens when i get there? i get practically attacked by young college girls, we are talking 19-25, who go into a feeding frenzy when mom brings a load of books. i even asked one how she always manages to be there and she laughed and said "Your mom is VERY predictable on her timing so i just make sure to be here on her days". After they are through snatching books as fast as the librarian can slap them into the DB they are hitting mom up with questions about the authors.

            Now you would think if ANY would be post book it would be these women, they all own smartphones and tablets and laptops, yet just like my mom they'd rather have a "dead tree DB" as I jokingly call them than a Kindle version, which most don't exist for the cheesy Sci/Fi Horror mom collected for ages. I walk into that library and its full of young people, in fact other than me and mom I'd say most are under 30. Don't seem very "post book" to me.

    • Re:Post PC (Score:5, Interesting)

      by njen (859685) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:43AM (#40581697)
      I was thinking the same thing. I work in the VFX industry, and I can see absolutely no future without PC's in this industry alone. Personally, for my last piece of new hardware, I moved back from an uber powerful laptop (heavy weight, 17" screen, etc.), to a desktop at roughly half the price with almost twice the specs, then I threw two 24" monitors in for good measure. I know others who have also recently made a similar move back to the PC (or PC like device).
      • by Mr0bvious (968303)

        And since 99% (ass statistic) of the computer users simply don't need that much horse power, we may find that this does become the norm and our desktops may become somewhat esoteric and have a price to suit (in relative terms).

        I feel it's probably still progress towards a better state, but there will be some transition pain like with many disruptive technologies - in a few years you phone will probably have the power of your Deskop(tm) and we'll just plug it into our nice monitors and keyboard - I'm actuall

    • Re:Post PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dupple (1016592) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:54AM (#40581753)

      It will come, perhaps not the way we expect it to though. And, it will come right after the paperless office

    • Re:Post PC (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JamesTRexx (675890) <m DOT nystrom AT mbitz DOT nl> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:09AM (#40581819) Homepage Journal
      As I see it there will indeed still be a need for the current form of computing, but I expect there will be two major sides. One, the consumer side which will be smartphones and tablets combined with storage on the internet (through high speed wireless networks of course), The other the business side with the "traditional" laptops and PC's with local (network) storage.

      So, actually not much different from the current options, just more refined.


      And why did they put Slackware into the email address? I'm more of a Debian guy. o.O
    • Hmm, there is going to be a continuing and significnt need for a device that has a real keyboard for all the people who write a lot of text every day

      As one of those people I agree and would like to add something. If you're really writing a lot, not just any keyboard will do. Most laptops nowadays have really bad keyboards, and they became worse when everybody started to copy Apple's 'improved' laptop keyboards. Luckily, classic thinkpads still have decent keyboards. But of course, nothing beats buckling spring keyboards or Cherry switches. (I don't have experience with the latter but use a Unicomp at home; probably the best buy in computer hardware I've

  • Dirt cheap? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:32AM (#40581639)
    I don't see how this vision ever becomes a reality in a world where putting significant computing power on my desk and fully under my control is dirt cheap. Comparatively a tablet or phone has a klunky and imprecise interface, poor processing power and needs more external support. Also the value of having a powerful processor in the box greatly speeds compute operations in many cases.
  • Meh ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lennier1 (264730)

    Wake me up once one of those toys can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      Wake me up once one of those toys can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation.

      By the time these devices can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation, that target will have already moved on. So you will never be able get closure on "Wake me when X can do Y"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#40581653)

    I wanted to write a detailed rebuttal. But I don't have the patience to enter it in my phone.

  • the pc will remain (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't see people coding on devices with inferior screen(sizes), cpu power and input devices.

  • . . . on Futurama.

    From TFA:

    It takes society thirty years, more or less, to absorb a new information technology into daily life. It took about that long to turn movable type into books in the fifteenth century. Telephones were invented in the 1870s but did not change our lives until the 1900s. Motion pictures were born in the 1890s but became an important industry in the 1920s. Television, invented in the mid-1920’s, took until the mid-1950s to bind us to our sofas.

    We still have books and telephones and movies and tv's so what the hell is his point?

    ps--Judging by his photo in the banner, his blog ought to be called, "I, Crinkly".

    • He's just showing us how he's 29 years ahead of the curve by adopting Instagram into his "professional" work.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Telephones were invented in the 1870s but did not change our lives until the 1900s. Motion pictures were born in the 1890s but became an important industry in the 1920s

      This argument is forced.

      The most obvious example would be all-electronic television, commercially viable no later than 1939, but deployment held back by World War Two.

      Take a closer look at the history of the movies:

      The Birth of a Nation began filming in 1914 and pioneered such camera techniques as the use of panoramic long shots, the iris effects, still-shots, night photography, panning camera shots, and a carefully staged battle sequence with hundreds of extras made to look like thousands. It also contains many new artistic techniques, such as color tinting for dramatic purposes, building up the plot to an exciting climax, dramatizing history alongside fiction, and featuring its own musical score written for an orchestra.

      The film cost $112,000 (the equivalent of $2.41 million in 2010). A ticket to the film cost a record $2 (equal to $45.95 today).

      The Birth of a Nation [slashdot.org]

      I have a copy of a contemporary essay from The Saturday Evening Post which explored the social changes that could already be seen at work in the success of the nickelodeon theaters of a decade earlier --- as the writer summed it up, the nickel theater was a night out any

  • Input Devices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:49AM (#40581721) Journal
    As I enter this on my smart. Phone. I can't help but this.k that this demise of the PC is highly exaggerated. Keyboards and mice and the number pad are all much more efficient and less error prone, and therefore faster and more headache free ways to enter data. Until smart phones and tablets and other upcoming "smart devices" can compete in this regard (as well as screen real estate), the PC/laptop in business at the very least isn't going anywhere. I don't want someone angering any of my financial I.to on an autocorrecting tablet touch screen. And for those who might choose this argument, a ta let with a cover or keybiard accessory is really a laptop. Anyway having read the author's previous work I don't need to read thus one to k ow it should have been titled, "Cringley Jumps On The Bandwagon Again With Nothing Useful To Say Or Hasn't Already Been Said A Dozen Times Before, Or Both."
  • So, when PCs have finally solved the problem of reliably working with standard OS and data (thanks to FOSS) we scrap it all to be more dependent on external providers.

    It's not like prices will go up when the cloud becomes the only choice, oh no.

    I said "we" but in truth, it's "they", the guys who seek more control over our computing experience (and have been doing so since they started closing the source and making a guy called Stallman have a working printer).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:51AM (#40581735)

    In TFA Cringely states: "Radio was invented with the original idea that it would replace telephones and give us wireless communication. That implies two-way communication, yet how many of us own radio transmitters?"

    He is apparently unaware that cellphones, tablets, etc. use radio transmitters (technically transceivers) to communicate with cell towers, WiFi access points, Bluetooth headsets, etc.

    • while many devices have transcievers, we aren't hooking up morse code keys and tapping out CQ QSX on them as the equivalent of the Slashdot nerds of early hobbyist radio thought everyone would be doing. While a cell phone has a transciever it acts like a telephone....not a ham radio setup.

  • The reason is has not happened yet is sheer momentum, and the basic fact of human nature that people resist change.

    Look at Slashdot readers, who you would think would be on the vanguard of this technological shift. Instead they are some of the clingiest whiniest buggy-whip holdingist resistors of change to be found, simply because post-PC devices cannot yet replace high-end CAD workstations or some other such uber-specialized nonsense that do not matter to the general trend.

    The kids in grade school (at th

    • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:09AM (#40581815) Homepage

      Give me a call when you can easily develop for the iPad on the iPad. Or when you can develop complex server applications on a Galaxy S3. PCs are going away in the consumer world (to the detriment of anyone who wants to create anything outside work without forking out a fortune), but PCs are going nowhere in the office where you need a large screen or two to efficiently do your job and a decent keyboard to do accurate typing.

      We are not whiny buggy whip holders, we are the people that work in real organisations, where the needs are more complex than Facebook access and where legacy applications abound. When you futurists can come up with a decent device for doing complex work that is a realistic alternative to the PC then you can criticise those of us who actually know something. Until then get the fuck off my lawn.

      • but PCs are going nowhere in the office where you need a large screen or two to efficiently do your job and a decent keyboard to do accurate typing.

        Haven't been paying close attention in some offices these days, have you. Those thiny little boxes attached to the backs of monitors, or off to the side? Thin clients, not PC's.

    • by Turboglh (816701) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:17AM (#40581865)
      It's not about resistance to change, it's about need. I've got a much more capable device sitting in my computer room than I do in my pocket or on my nightstand. Why utilize an inferior piece of hardware when a twenty second walk will put me in front of my pc. I think it's more about convenience of use. We've got two smart phones, a touchpad and a kindle in the house. For casual forum reading, the phones or the tablet will suffice, For even something as simple as searching for information on a new topic, I much prefer he utility of a keyboard, mouse and multiple screens. People of future generations will utilize the best tools available to them, including dedicated pc's if available.
    • by bertok (226922)

      The reason is has not happened yet is sheer momentum, and the basic fact of human nature that people resist change.

      It's not that at all, at least, not in this case.

      A lot of foolish people assume that "new" means that everything else automatically becomes "old", and hence "bad". Now, in some cases, this is one hundred percent true, but such examples are the exception, not the rule.

      We still wear cotton, several thousand years after it was first used, and a hundred years after synthetic fibres were invented. We have more sheep here in Australia -- raised mostly for wool -- than people! Is this simply "sheer momentum" or pe

  • Is there anybody that has replaced the home computer completely ?
  • by Analog Penguin (550933) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:54AM (#40581757)

    Whenever I see people saying this, I wonder how many people actually use their computer to do real work.

    I work as a recording engineer. You can buy non-PC devices to do the actual recording if you want, but even in that case mixing and post-processing really does require a computer with vast amounts of local CPU power and storage, in addition to some highly specialised equipment (such as external audio interfaces that connect via Firewire or even PCI cards). You can't record ten simultaneous tracks of uncompressed 24-bit, 48 khz audio to the cloud. I'm sure the same is true of many other fields like video and graphics production, software development, and scientific number crunching.

    Sure, grandma probably doesn't need a full-blown PC to look at emailed pictures of her family, and maybe the "post-PC" era will benefit her. But I do worry what will happen to the PC world if major manufacturers keep taking their focus away from people who really do require serious equipment. (Hello, Apple, selling 2010 Mac Pros for 2014 prices, with an operating system that's leading the charge towards turning your desktop computer into an iPad!)

  • I can't help but think that most people are looking at this the wrong way. I definitely think that the classic pc form factor will be around for a while yet, though it will likely become more niche with time. There are jobs that will need the raw computing power of the desktop for some time yet, there is no doubt there. But I definitely think that over time form factors will get smaller, and eventually, surely within the next 20-50 years, you will generally have enough computing power to do whatever is n
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:05AM (#40581795)

    The problem with such predictions is that they rely on the smartphone being a full replacement for a PC. And that's just not the case.

    There's the obvious problems - typing large amounts of text, or doing things that require more processing power than a smartphone will have in the foreseeable future. These have been covered to death already; I won't bother reiterating them.

    But then there's the lesser obstacles. Let me bring in some anecdotal evidence. I was feeling nostalgic, and wanted to play some of my old Game Boy Color games. I figured I should do so on my phone, rather than try to drag yet another bulky piece of electronics around. Finding an emulator was easy enough (finding one that didn't display ads was tougher, but doable). And I easily found a ROM file (just in case you're spying on me, MAFIAA, yes, I still have those games on cartridge, so bugger off).

    But, every time I tried to download it, it prompted me for what program to open it in. And it only listed the ones that had registered themselves as being able to open .ZIP filesl the emulator was not among them. There was no option for "save the file locally, I'll handle opening it". None at all.

    So in order to actually get it to work, I had to hook it up to my computer and copy the file over. Such a simple task, but it couldn't do it.

    There are many other times I've tried to do something on my phone, but been unable to without using a PC. Here's a big one - development. You can code for Linux, on Linux. You can code for Windows, on Windows. I've even coded for freaking TI calculators, *on* the calculator. But you can't code for Android on an Android device, nor can you code for iPhone on an iPhone.

    The running theme of it seems to be that smartphones and tablets are designed as consumers of data, not producers. But, given how essential producing data is to modern society, that means they will never replace the PC until that fundamental design concept is thrown out. Sure, for some, even many, uses, they're adequate, or at least capable of doing the task (if slower and more awkwardly). But so many common things remain impossible.

    The more paranoid among you are probably preparing a rant about how this is $BIG_EVIL_CONGLOMERATE's wet dream, and something something 1984 something something DRM something from my cold dead hands. But that's not the case. Even *if* you posit a dystopian future where the $BEC controls everything, there will *still* be PCs, because *someone* will still have to produce data. They may become much less common, but a PC, or a PC-functional device, *will* be necessary.

    Now, it could be possible that smartphones will change to have this type of functionality, and would be able, in theory, to replace PCs. But *that* seems unlikely, because the form factor itself, as well as limitations of technology, makes them very poor PC replacements.

    [1] Note that, throughout, I use the term "PC" for "workstation, desktop or notebook". OS does not matter - your Mac is a PC; your Linux desktop is a PC; even that one guy still running CP/M is using a PC.

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:08AM (#40581807)

    What’s keeping us using desktops and even notebook, then, are corporate buying policies, hardware replacement cycles, and inertia.

    While I actually agree with the assertion that laptops are on the way out, I don't ever see a day I *won't* want to have my own dedicated box. And what's going to keep me buying (or, rather, building) desktop computers is customizability and control. I don't want Google, Amazon, HTC, Apple or anyone else telling me what my computer should be. I don't want an internet outage to prevent me from using my machine, I don't want to be told what software I can or cannot install on my machine, and I don't want to be a slave to a company's repair center whenever I need to do a simple replacement. It's in the name: Personal Computer.

    I'm not saying that thin clients don't have their place, and I don't doubt that their popularity will rise, but I don't think the PC is going anywhere.

  • "Trucks and cars" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RetiredMidn (441788) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:08AM (#40581809) Homepage
    Steve Jobs used the analogy of trucks and cars; some of us need trucks for heavy lifting and special tasks, but most of us don't. The PC running Solitaire on a receptionist's desk will probably go away; the engineer's workstation will not.
    • by sstamps (39313)

      Given that comment, isn't it funny that the most popular vehicle of choice for many years was the minivan, more or less a slimmed-down version of a "heavy lifting" vehicle, and now, the SUV, which is basically a truck with an integrated camper shell.

      This whole "end of the XXX era" crap is a typical has-been journalist's pathetic attempt to become a futurist because he thinks he has some kind of insight into an industry that he really doesn't have, all in a desperate attempt to remain relevant.

      The truth of t

  • Much easier to get at your stuff that way

  • In my tech support job, I still deal on a daily basis with people for whom the personal computer is a hateful thing they want to have nothing to do with. This technology is not yet fully integrated into our society.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:28AM (#40581937)
    Yes, small mobile devices have as much, or more, compute power (including display processing) as PC's of a few years ago. And yes, solid state storage is cheap enough to make a mobile device a practical platform for most uses, but for one thing - the user interface. Just try to get real work done on a tablet. Sure, if you're "work" is a single task, with a UI that is suited to small displays, and if your input doesn't involve much typing at all, that will work. But if you run multiple apps at once, and have to actually type any significant number of characters like say, a paragraph on a /. post, tiny touch screens suck, hard. So Cringe has it right, partly. I'm willing to allow that "the PC" will look quite different in 10 or 15 years. I expect that it will involve a wearable heads-up display of some type. If we don't get that, the screens on my desk will still be there.
  • by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:29AM (#40581955)

    All these arguments here over input devices and 3D capable workstations and "powerful" processors vs. "weak" tablets and smartphones. Give me a break.

    We're talking about the FUTURE here. Rewind 10 years and tell me you EVER thought you would be sitting around with 3 terabytes and 32GB of RAM inside your "personal" computer at home for less than $1000. Now go ahead and TRY and predict what kind of computing power we're going to be literally holding in the palm of our hands in another 10 years as you complain about 3D capability and resolution (ironically while you hold your 2048 x 1536 iPad in your hand) .

    As far as keyboards go, we're only beginning to see what interfaces like Siri can do. Yes, I love my keyboard and can type with speed. But it is still no match for my voice, and I would much rather use THE most efficient method of input. The average person can speak MUCH faster than they can type (250 - 300WPM), and as long as that statistic rings true (along with increasing levels of car accidents due to texting instead of looking at the damn road), we WILL have many reasons to move away from a box of keys.

    Sorry, but considering what computing power has done in the last 10 - 20 years, I've given up on trying to predict the wonders of tomorrow, but I'm sure not going to simply dismiss them based on archaic mentality.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:38AM (#40582009) Homepage

    Many of us, specifically the ones that create or are techies, will have a "PC" always. the Post PC era is for the appliance operators, the ones that treat the PC as a toaster, and it's about time this happened. I have always said that a computer is NOT what most people need, they need something that is like a game machine. Fixed OS they cant write to, and software as read only. Give them a space they can write to for storage and call it done. An Xbox360 or PS3 kind of device that is a home computer.

    Luckily it's coming to pass. and all people that have done IT support in their life will rejoice.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:45AM (#40582057)
    Make him type that article on a tablet and see if he still thinks that. I'm getting REALLY sick of this bullshit.
  • This is a human factors issue. Look, the form factor for tablets and phones is just wrong for most *work*. WORK. Remember that stuff? Sure, I can watch videos or play games on my phone, but I'm not going to be editing a spreadsheet, editing an engineering drawing, or typing a novel on my tablet any time soon. Servers and portables with keyboards are going to be around until we get practically useful direct neural I/O.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:48AM (#40582491) Homepage

    The post-PC world will look much like the post-paper office does... how long ago did they predict the paperless office again?

  • by fa2k (881632) <pmbjornstad @ g m a il.com> on Sunday July 08, 2012 @02:42PM (#40583849)

    If this prediction comes true, it's the ultimate lock-in for data. People complained in the 90s and 00s about how MS Office files weren't readable in other programs. Well, you could still back them up and distribute them as you wished, and MS couldn't take them away if they didn't like you. Text, image and video files on the desktop can be opened in different applications depending on the need, while in the cloud it's at the mercy of the provider. If the present is anything to go by, most providers aren't going to have public APIs for interoperability.

    (There are of course advantages to thin clients, which are harder to implement in "fat" clients, and even harder in a P2P setup, but the lock-in problem is pretty fundamental)

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