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Are PCs Doomed?

Question: Greetings, Leo! I’m retired and depend on my PC for communication, personal business, writing, maintaining a modest website, research, education, and entertainment. These days, I constantly read about the end of the PC era. What’s your opinion of the future of PCs, especially for home users? Please advise.

In my opinion, the death of the PC has been grossly exaggerated. They are not doomed. They are not going away anytime soon, for several different reasons.

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Long live the PC

Lately, the rise of alternative devices has led to a fair amount of “PCs are doomed” hysteria. The problem is there are still many tasks that are better suited to the PC form and its power.

For example, things like video editing and graphics work are still significantly easier and often more precise on a PC or a PC-like form than they are on alternatives. For those and many other tasks, desktop PCs remain the mainstay of the office — and in fact, most workplaces.

As long as they continue to be a key staple for the office, PCs will be available for the home.

There’s nothing like a real keyboard

I use all of the different kinds of devices throughout the day, and I have to say that nothing beats a real keyboard.

While keyboards are available on some of the smaller devices, like tablets (and even phones for that matter), they’re still not the same. It’s still a tablet with a small keyboard, or a phone with an even smaller keyboard. For people trying to produce content, the full-sized keyboards associated with desktop PCs and laptops are the only way to go.

New devices doing different things

PC TombstoneI will say that the balance is tipping. Many new devices provide a level of convenience that PCs or laptops never could.

For example, laptops are extremely portable, but not in the same way my smartphone is. I can stick that in a pocket. Tablets are great for reading, and I have one for just that purpose.

These new portable devices have enabled new types of interactions and activities that simply wouldn’t be feasible with laptops and desktop PCs. That’s great. They’re different devices doing all kinds of things.

And there’s overlap. I can read email on my phone or tablet. But I’ll still come back to my desktop to reply if my reply is likely to be of any length. I certainly can’t see myself writing articles like this on anything but a PC or PC-like device for quite some time.

While the number of PCs may go down somewhat, and the ratio of PCs to mobile devices may change over time, they will not be going away any time soon. They’re just too darned useful.

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17 comments on “Are PCs Doomed?”

  1. Truthfully im tired of the “pcs are dead” hype. They also forgot to factor in, for a lot of people, they just cannot afford the tablets or mobiles or anything. Im one of those people i use a 5-year-old PC which i keep in good shape and its more versatile and in better shape than year-old tablets from other people I know online

  2. I think apart from the wow factor of wanting the latest “thing,” a major factor in the number of PCs and laptops being replaced by tablets and phones is that many people only use their device for surfing the web and a few emails a day. In other words, data consumers as opposed to content creators. I know a few people like that. My children, for example, use computers at work, but at home they only use their phones and tablets. Their home computer is almost strictly for their kids’ homework.Tablets and smartphones are perfect for this type of user. Although, I’m not sure of the upcoming generation. I’ve seen some teens who can type faster on their phones than I can type on a keyboard :)

  3. For me, smartphones and tablets will never replace a PC – they merely complement it. In the past, if I wanted to “stay connected” I had to wait until I got home. Now, I can “stay connected” wherever I am.

    But for any serious work nothing will replace my PC.

  4. I agree that PCs are not dying anytime soon, but there is another factor to consider, voice recognition. Google has learned my voice very well & can produce the typed word faster than I can type. I am a very fast typist upwards around 65 to 75 words per minute.

  5. Hi Leo
    Have read your article again and think there may be one factor not covered. This of course is the size of the screen. Even where I live TV’s of 40/50 inches are the norm !!!.
    I myself use a normal size Laptop and an iPhone. While I think the fone is truelly brilliant and use it a lot, nevertheless my only criticism is the size of the screen. If I was still working with disposable income I believe my first priority would be a new Laptop with a much larger screen. Do believe that a lot of people round the globe would echo my sentiments.
    Any views yourself on this matter ???

  6. I prefer PCs now. They are so convenient to read and type. I’ve also purchased a tablet, just to get used to it. But, I find it uncomfortable and time consuming to use for online purchases. I also miss the mouse there. I find some of the fields do not work in tablets. It must be worse in smart phones.
    Whichever way the world moves, I may retain the PC or atleast the laptop!

  7. The problem with that all-in-one stuff is: something fails, all fails, and leaves you empty handed.

    For me desktops whether PC or Mac are the things to be.
    And pre-owned fast business computers are very cheap to buy.
    They are easy to repair if necessary.

    Laptops are prone to hardware problems that are expensive and/or difficult to cope with.
    I have still two running here until the day they completely die.

    I’ve a tablet too, must be hiding somewhere in a corner.

    Another post mentioned screen size.
    I don like wide screens (and scrolling), they look nice but when you do a lot of Photoshopping/Gimping you find yourself short of vertical height on most wide screens.

    If I feel the urge to buy something portable again I will go for a 7 inch phablet with a separate headset/microphone. And some stuff for navigation.

  8. Kind of like the “DOS is dead” mantra every time a new version of Windows came out. (As of Windows 7 — the last 32-bit Windows I used — MS-DOS was still alive and well, being able to run a 1984 version of our software.)

    I wonder… Is there a 32-bit version of Win10?

  9. A PC is easier to adapt to compensate for orthopedic or repetitive motion problems.

    I use an ergonomic keyboard, which I tilt slightly to compensate for imperfect mobility in one forearm. The bottom of my screen is about 6 inches higher than my keyboard because that’s what my back and neck need. You can’t get that sort of arrangement with a portable computer, a tablet, or a phone.

  10. If anyone (more accurately, probably everyone) has ever been to an office lately, you’ve probably noticed every desk has a PC. So far, I’ve never seen a tablet at a desk in an office. Try writing an article or a book on a tablet. You may be able to attach a full-size keyboard on a tablet, but that would probably be a hybrid like an MS Surface, and that’s really a full service PC with a removable touchscreen.

    One area where tablets are replacing terminals is Point of Sale, (POS). Many restaurants and bars use tablet POS terminals and I’ve been to a couple of shops which use POS tablets. Of course, what would you expect from an Apple shop ;-) . It all comes down to which device is most convenient for the application.

  11. My feeling is that sales of PCs started to slow not only when there were competitive devices, but when PCs themselves became mature. For about the last 20 years or so, I built and maintain about 10 PCs for family and friends, and for the first few years had a monthly budget to pay for the upgrades they needed. Starting after 2008-2010 or so, I stopped spending much money because the performance improvements available for non-gaming systems with any upgrade were so marginal. About the only things I have done vaguely recently are solid state startup drives, and later main drives, and dual monitors. Just like cell phones, when they get good enough that newer is just plain not that much better, the market for new ones contracts. However, it never goes away.

    • True, sales are going down because the need for new computers is going down but people are still using their computers. I have a 9 year-old laptop which I use for work. I maxxed out the RAM and installed an SSD and it runs as fast as many new computers.

  12. In my opinion, the death of the PC has been grossly exaggerated. They are not doomed. They are not going away anytime soon

    You will change your mind. The market today is driven by teenagers and subteenagers. Why do you think, for example, the highest earning movie of all time, several billion! tickets sold, is aimed at 10 year olds. And these folks are using their little tap tap telephones (often provided when they still are in diapers) and that’s all they know or want to know.

    • The last line of the article says:

      While the number of PCs may go down somewhat, and the ratio of PCs to mobile devices may change over time, they will not be going away any time soon. They’re just too darned useful.

      While young people are using more tablets and fewer PCs, when they grow up, they will need PC for work and now still need one for school. All of my grandchildren have their own tablets but there’s are also a computer or two in their houses for homework. I don’t believe the number of PCs in offices had diminished. Their number has probably gone up.

  13. Very funny about PCs going away. That reminds me of the statement that – the automotive internal combustion engine is doomed….. They have been say that for decades :-) But because of computers and sensors that control the engine, cars with gas engines are still rolling along, with smaller and more efficient engines.

  14. Well they will be here for bit no doubt, increasingly however they will be relegated to specific resource heavy software tasks,i.e. CADD, Games, Video / Graphics editing etc. when i started in our company 15 years ago we were mainly PC’s, now overwhelmingly we supply 15 inch laptops to most staff with external Monitor and KBoard , easier to ship /swap out a laptop than a desktop.

    Our Techs still use laptops to service large machinery but this could easily shift to a mobile device over time, we have moved our Technical manuals and info to the Cloud and it is accessed primarily from a mobile devices rather than carried on the laptop. Getting fault codes from engines doesn’t require the resources of a PC or Laptop.

    Sales staff used to use big bulky laptops now we supply 13 inch laptop/ tablet hybrids but even here this is increasingly becoming redundant as their primary software is online, emails are done mostly from phones, quotes are generated through online CRMs.

    For basic operations , documents, spreadsheets , presentations, emails, accounting and CRM this could all be done with a phone and external Keyboard maybe cast to a larger monitor for convenience. phones already have sufficient grunt to fulfill basic tasks

    PC will be dead in 10 years ……….. maybe.


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