I came across a comment by HP CEO Meg Whitman that I wanted to share:
“… we can go all the way from virtual desktop to workstations to desktops…by the way, desktops are not dead…to laptops to hybrids to tablets for the commercial enterprise.”
Just a couple of years ago, HP was talking about PC apathy and market saturation. It sounds like HP's enthusiasm for the desktop has rebounded, despite steep drops in sales reported earlier this year.
There's no shortage of headlines, blog posts, and discussion on the decline in PC sales. There are a bunch of reasons for the falling numbers, including …
- Tablets have eaten into the demand (and even smaller devices are on the heels of the tablets)
- Windows H8. (haha see what I did there?)
- Unplanned obsolescence. More computing on other devices means that you have less need for your PC…
- .. and besides that, desktops are all the same. Why upgrade?
- Shifts in technology investments. Budgets emphasize security, mobile technologies.
Regardless, the desktop computer isn't going to be phased out of business anytime soon. A lot of the niche line-of-business software is unavailable on anything other than a traditional workstation. Most developers don't have the resources to keep pace with the rapid changes in mobile technology or the consumerization of IT. So to focus on the quality of their products, they focus on developing for the desktop. Those who do push out mobile apps often limit the functionality or otherwise offer the mobile version as a complement to the desktop version. Mobile apps have become value adds, not replacements.
The desktop computer also remains the easiest way to create and edit documents. Accessories such as Bluetooth keyboards have made editing easier, but don't even get me started on how cumbersome it is to work a large spreadsheet on a 9″ screen. When I need to do that, I get my laptop.
What I find interesting in the conversations about desktops are the ways in which desktops are incorporating features from the devices that are replacing them. Such as …
- App ecosystems
- Touch screens
- Solid State Drives and other storage types made popular by netbooks and other ultra-portables
- Integrated wi-fi connectivity
- Fingerprint readers, facial recognition, and other biometrics
- Gesture control
Just to name a few.
Desktop computing may someday be fully replaced by something radically different than what we've seen so far. I imagine something like smart desks in smart rooms, where users employ voice, gesture, touch, and other methods of input to operate multiple surfaces simultaneously. There are no spinning parts that break, no fans that make loud noises, no cords that accidentally get pulled. But how do we get there, and how do we make it affordable?
Until figure all that out, I'm with Meg. Desktops are not dead.