I imagine a (very) near future where all you need is a good smartphone on you, and dumb wireless terminals wherever you go. Perhaps not even a smartphone per sé, but a smart device that holds your identity and most personal items so that you can experience them on all nearby by-you authorised peripheral devices. Here are the signs that point to this.
Smartphones and tablets cost more than your average PC
Don’t take my word for it, look up any online or offline store for PCs. Do the same for smartphones and tablets, compare the prices, you’ll see that they’re very close. So, if you are going to buy a PC, you probably can afford a smart mobile device and you are likely to choose for the latter due to the superior convenience and personalisation.
Smart devices have your most relevant and up to date data
Again, if you’re using one you won’t have any doubt about that. I actually craved for this for years and tried every generation of products that I could afford to buy in my time. I wasn’t nearly satisfied until I got my first iPhone, a 3G model when they first came out. With either a smartphone or a tablet, you have Internet with you and you can access your email and do banking, collaborate on documents.
Main PC uses: browse, store print or share things, play.
A smartphone or tablet can perform very well everything a PC can do, but the converse is not true. It is more convenient to browse the Internet with a smartphone or tablet, than it is to do it with a PC. Beyond that, you can also store things or share things without a PC. In fact, you may be better off storing things in the Cloud than keeping them on a PC. Printing from smartphone and tablet has been relatively elusive until printers started to evolve too. Actually, wherever there is a printer there is also a good functioning PC nearby. So, if you’ve already got a PC it is likely that it works well and you have no reason to upgrade it. Mobile gaming on smartphones and tablets is taking off seriously. There’s not much left that you could be missing.
My 5 year old laptop is still amazing
I wrote a couple of posts about my Macbook Pro in this blog. They are still relevant, it’s still incredibly snappy and robust. I did recently experience a problem, which might actually be an unpublicised bug with OSX Mavericks (previous blog post entry). Since writing that post, the second disk appears to be back online, as if nothing ever happened, and I haven’t lost any data because I didn’t rush to reformat the disk or anything like that. Other than this brief issue with the disk, the laptop remains speedy and responsive. The tasks that my ageing laptop doesn’t cope well with include: deeply technical tasks such as compiling complex toolkits, simultaneously running multiple OS on VM, I don’t do any video processing but I’m sure it will be slower doing that compare to contemporary machines. When you look at these tasks though, you see that you actually want those to run on the Cloud rather than locally. Cloud hosting is no longer just for data centers, it’s becoming attractive for consumers too (see Amazon new GPU announcement).
The ultimate convenience in personal computing is to carry very little with you and have everything available at hand wherever you may be. To make a rather tangent parallel, when you see celebrities or powerful people travelling they never seem to be carrying anything at all, and that’s because there are small armies of people doing that for them. In computing, that small personal army would be your smartphone or tablet, such that when you actually need access to bulky stuff (printers, projectors, large display) they are available on the premise where you are. A smart device affords everybody a kind of celebrity privilege except for the publicity stuff, and I suspect lots of fashion moves were motivated by the layman’s envying what the privileged few have got.
I dislike hype, it’s almost pathological. This makes me feel like coming up with contrarian arguments in reaction to most articles I read these days that talk about computing technology market. This feeling is reinforced by the impression that many of these analysts are simply posturing with no work whatsoever to back up their writings. This is also seen in many articles on the so-called post-PC era. So if they can get away with it, I feel entitled to risk some thoughts on the subject.