Welcome to the future everyone! It turns out that we didn’t get flying cars, jet-packs, hover-boards or decent battery life on anything, but we did end up with supercomputers in our pockets. It turns out that the PC that some of us grew up with might soon become a relic. IC Insights recently published a report that projects $65.1 billion will be spent on PC components next year while a whopping $70.1 billion is expected to be spent on phone components. Most of us probably aren’t surprised by this. The PC market has stagnated over the last few years as the smartphone market has become increasingly dynamic and creative.
I remember when I was in high school (1998-2005) I couldn’t get enough information about the next laptop that was coming out. Laptops were wonders of modern technology, WiFi hot spots were popping up in every coffee shop in the country and the world seemed like it was increasingly at my fingertips. But these days it isn’t the latest innovations in laptop tech that make us feel like the future is exciting and full of potential, but the smartphone market certainly. In just the last 3 years we have seen Android phones with projectors built into them, we’ve seen phones in every conceivable shape and size, and next year we might have a no-bezel screen or maybe even a flexible screen! The future is happening and we all have a front-row seat. Laptops, on the other hand, reached the “meh” stage a few years ago when we realized that a 2 GHz processor and 4 GB of RAM could do pretty much anything most of us wanted to do. There will always be a market for high-end laptops and PCs that gamers, designers, and video editors will desperately need, but for the rest of us the golden age of the laptop is ending. But don’t mourn for these devices and please don’t develop a misplaced sense of nostalgia over the next few years. (Just because something was around during your childhood doesn’t mean you should miss it. Cassette tapes for instance, were terrible and I’m glad they are gone)
The real killer of the PC isn’t the smart phone. It is the tablet. The tablet is better for consuming movies/TV shows most of the time, and unlike a television, it doesn’t take over an entire room when it is on. We are a society of consumers, and nothing shows this off like the tablet. You can’t really get much done on a tablet (with a few notable exceptions) other than light reading, watching video content and listening to music. It turns out that most of us don’t want our devices to do anything. We want our devices to do things for us. Does this concept have a broader implication about the direction of our society? Are we becoming a culture obsessed with entertainment and consumption instead of productivity and communication? I was going to try to answer some of these questions, but I have a DVR full of Pawn Stars that isn’t going to watch itself. Feel free to figure it out and let us know.