PCs

CIOs predict the death of the PC and the desk phone

Mobile working means we will soon be bidding farewell to some of the staples of business tech.

Your desk could look very different in a few years, with CIOs predicting the death of two of its standard fixtures.

Nearly two-thirds of CIOs expect the desk phone to disappear from everyday use within five years, with PCs are the next most likely to become redundant, according to 62 per cent of CIOs.

It's perhaps no surprise. Mobile working has made any fixed hardware increasingly irrelevant, and the bring your own device trend has only accelerated the demise of the office phone and the desktop.

In contrast, smartphones are seen by 13 per cent of CIOs as the least likely devices to be abandoned, although the research suggested IT leaders still need convincing about tablets, with nearly a quarter expecting the devices to fall out of fashion. The research, sponsored by Virgin Media Business, involved interviews with 500 CIOs.

What do you think is the next piece of enterprise technology most likely to be heading for the scrap heap?

About

Steve Ranger is the UK editor of TechRepublic, and has been writing about the impact of technology on people, business and culture for more than a decade. Before joining TechRepublic he was the editor of silicon.com.

144 comments
gregory.winters@pc-bs.com
gregory.winters@pc-bs.com

I know this is a late comment, but I've purposely trolled for older articles to see how well they've fared since all their Chicken Little blathering first hit the airwaves.  Yes, my desktop phone was taken away and now I can't place or receive calls.  What, you say, you don't have a cell phone?  Of course I have a cell phone - I just don't have a network SIGNAL that works in our building.  Face it, change fetishists:  the Network still isn't ready for prime time.  Between the twin demons of security and availability, it's going to be a long, long time before we all become Cloud-heads.

BeerGuy62
BeerGuy62

Not until laptops are as big as portable tabletops will they replace PCs. If you're a graphics designer like me, VISIBILITY is key. Sure, I can use my AT&T 4GLTE network to SEND very large graphic files from my smartphone to someone else beyond Dallas, but I don't want to create those files on a 3" x 5" screen, or anything less than my monster monitor.

mikebyford
mikebyford

I am over 50 like most over 50's my eyes have deteriorated. I have a smart phone - never use can't see the screen. Have on old laptop with 17" monitor use sometimes but need good light and glasses. cannot use tablets screens too small to see! My PC has a 24" monitor - fine. Use landline all the time - mobile call costs and even worse internet access data costs are ridiculous and signal reliability in UK is poor. I do a lot of photographic work and graphics/web design - no way will I be doing this on low CPU/GPU devices with small storage and RAM - get in the real world CIO people! Smart phones are me too toys to show of the kids and snaps they are not processing machines. Only other option for small businesses is cloud computing - don't you just love the security and reliability of that? Docking stations are expensive and laptops still underperform desktops by quite some way in my experience and the costs per GB RAM,CPU and storage are way higher. My wife works purely on a laptop with docking station but for complex tasks borrows my PC as it is way faster. she has to network to her office central server to access data bases and aas our broadband bandwidth is at best 1 MBps she is stuffed for security reasons she is not allowed to load data or databases on her hard drive but has to work on them in reaal time on the central server - what a waste of time as it takes hours to load even smal databases.

jgomezo
jgomezo

The trick is when you can observe into this report the word "mobile". The IT technology convergence through TT (telecommunications technology) is now. The bandwidth is not a problem because LTE (4G) exist now, and the mobility is putting in a new scenario. My point of view is that the death of PC is near but not nearly. This process are progressive and depend of how is the CIO's open mind about it. The tools are ready to the mobility: combine one mobile offer where are integrate virtual desktop, virtual hard disk, office suite and unified communications and create a new place where the workers will be making their responsabilities in an enviroment with the correct connectivity . The device in not problem, the problem is when we believe in this one?.

jonathan_alvarez
jonathan_alvarez

People said "the sky is fallen", people said "the Rock is dead", people said "the PC is dead". The classic desk phone is dying, that is true. VOIP for medium-large companies and mobile for people, but what about small-medium business? What about the yellow pages? OH yeah yellow pages are dead too, because of Internet!!! Really ??? Foolery hoaxes!!!!!!. Try to run Visual Studio in any tablet, try to run any graphic program in a tablet, Mobility is good and low power processor devices are good for their purpose. Not for everything. CIO do not use high demanding power processors, that why they can live happy with their tablets.

mauno.aho
mauno.aho

Hi there, I am pretty amazed to read this conversation in 2012. I have had a mobile phone since 1985 (NMT, at 1995 GSM and 2011 3G) I have not had phone landline in my home since 2002. My landline only carries the ADSL. In my present job (since Jan 2007) I never have had deskphone nor fax. All our 800 employees have a company mobile phone (3G, device price from 200€ including MS Outlook e-mail, calendar and address book, Internet access, navigation etc.) and data transfer is a flat rate about 10€/month, calls are sometimes even cheaper than on landline. Mobile services like parking payments, bus, tram, metro and train tickets are affordable. I never have received a salary cheque. Since 1970's my salary has gone direct to my bank account on payday. I have used telebanking since mid 90's. Where am I working? I am a plain engineer in a engineering and consulting office, doing 3D planning and sometimes field work. One thing I agree: I will definetely need a PC (not Apple or other toy). In office I have a desktop with dual display but here at home a mobile workstation (a little bit larger and powerful laptop) with a second display. I know it is hard ( and pricey) to get a good engineering workstation as a laptop. There a desktop is the correct solution. But for a lighter use laptops are better -- they use less energy. My salary

gorman.mi
gorman.mi

These 'predictions' have little value, it seems obvious to those of us with a practical insight into how people actually work that desktop PC's are here to stay in many industries where the scale of the work demands a large screen and a decent local storage capacity. Yes, Robust Laptops with docking stations enabling peripheral expansion are a good alternative-where you can attach a big screen etc-but the economics of PC hardware make them very appealing-it is cheap to have a lot of storage/processing power and visual scale in the modular package of a PC/workstation-mobile is an option, not a paradigm.

YetAnotherBob
YetAnotherBob

I could see cell phones replacing desktop phones. They already do in some settings, but... I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the Fax Machine will be the next thing to go. Email and printer/scanners will be it's downfall. Last to go will be the Corner Office.

griff.computerservices@ve
griff.computerservices@ve

What planet are these collection of ninnies from? The demise of the PC ain't gonna happen (at least not in this lifetime). As already mentioned here by others, true and consistent productivity within any medium to large corporation or company requires a PC and the power and flexibility that it brings. Try to imagine staring at a smart phone or some other portable device for a whole work day. I often wonder where these self-absorbed pin-heads come up with these ideas...

l.kobiernicki
l.kobiernicki

How long are these mobile thingies rated to last ? I looked into this for PCs and MACs. PC lifespan is rated as up to 4 years ( laptop ), & 6 years ( desktop/tower ), before something fries, clunks out, plain dies without possibility of recovery. That's my considered observation, after 23 years of IT. As for replacements, they're are a niche-market problem all of their own. With the Apple MAC, we're talking lifespans of 8 years ( laptop ) or 10 years ( desktop/tower ). Parts may be in even shorter supply than for IBM-based PCs, given that the MAC is another niche market. I wonder what the engineered lifespan of the portable thingies ( i-Pods, i-Pads, & other, Linux-based mobile phones ) is rated at - guesstimate 2-3 years ? As for M$-Win-Doze-based phones, my guesstimate would be 2 years max, given the comparative flakiness of the OS, on laptops, especially. We are talking investment ROI potential, whether we recognize the fact, or not. Who's going to spend out on short-life products ? Not the wise investor, that's for sure. Why get into an endless cycle of feeding our ever-more hard-earned money, into the gaping jaws of a bottomless pit ? Let's all wise up & buy long-lasting kit. Pa used to say: " I'm too poor, to buy cheap stuff ". With the IT employment market the way it is, I'm surprized more of us haven't woken up to that ineluctible fact ..

David.Haas
David.Haas

I accept the mobile worker argument, but why add a layer of complexity for desk bound jobs?

cabelodomato
cabelodomato

I truly don't believe the PC's will die. Sure my PC doesn't provide a lot of the advantages of other devices such Tables, SmartPhones a notebook, but non of them provides me the easy upgrade facilities, the comfort or the power at the same price range. Sure I am already giving preference to check my e-mails on my smart phone it won't make my PC go away.

philstilliard
philstilliard

the people who predict this are young, spend a lot of time out of the office. When they are older, they will need a larger screen, failing eyesight requires this, then they will spend more time in the office, and need a larger screen.

ezrabm
ezrabm

As long as people use Windows XP- like me- the PC will exist. Perhaps -probably-in 20 years' time when my generation of oldies have all gone, it will be a different story.

gblack333
gblack333

It won't be that people won't be sitting at thier desk with a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. It will be that the computing is not done from the comptuer, and htat computer will not be there. The monitor will have be able to connect to the web by itself, and everything willl be in the cloud. Even high end graphics needs will be done in the cloud. I could also see the phoen replace desktop comptuers. You dock your phone when you are at your desk. It does all the computiing. Again you still have a keyboard monitor and mouse, but no PC. The phone will work with the cloud. Some info you will store on the phone and some will be done in the cloud. Same with computing. It may not be 5 year, but Windows is doomed if it doesn't make its newest OS work. Google is already trying to push cloud computing. Its not taking of yet, but it will.

Quackula
Quackula

.....and in other news scientists predict 50% of us in flying cars by 2020. Nice dream but probably not.

parksmichael
parksmichael

Desk phones can easily be replaced with cellphone docking units. This can save company the price of a new phone system every 5 years. and increase ease of management.. kinda rough in environments that need call recording and supervisor oversight (call centers), but otherwise perfectly acceptable. I don't ever recommend Desktops anymore, just get a laptop with docking station and have the functionality of a desktop, with the portability of a laptop. get 2 extra screens attached to the docking station, and get 9% increased efficiency (according to MicroSoft)

albayaaabc
albayaaabc

no some think will be death but the new idea is the choice for this helpful tool so chose it.

RANDALL.SIGGERS
RANDALL.SIGGERS

I set the hardware standards for a large engineering firm and I do believe there is some truth to this view. The PC seems to be morphing into a Zero client VDI session with data center based processing and local Zero clients. Cisco soft phones allow your desk phone to travel with you and will run of the same VDI session. I love desktop hardware but with NVidia VGX cards, and a healthy VM infrastructure we can even move our modeling software to the data center. So I don't think the PC is dead. It is a case of what was once old is new again with VDI and Zero clients. We are already moving in this direction. We use them in dual monitor configs. Here is an example of one http://www.gizmag.com/lg-p-series-zero-client-cloud-monitors/22410/ Many of our IT workforce already work remotely via VM sessions and I don't see why we can't take this idea and move it forward (albeit slowly) into the business.

clockmendergb
clockmendergb

I can only imagine that these companies see a way to cut costs by expecting the employee to supply the communications equipment. I am not seeing many say how they would replace the phone and desktop. I can see the price of phone plans going through the roof as everybody will need an unlimited plan in order to work. Somebody tell me I am wrong here.

Robert_S_Graves
Robert_S_Graves

I can see where some jobs and some application could be easily moved to a tablet, my experience tells me it will be a very slow process. How many companies with toss out their giant spreadsheets and the desk phone is still cheaper than giving everyone a smart phone. And how many users will willingly give up their multiple wide screen flat panel monitors? I really think the technology has away to go before any of this will happen. Will it happen eventually? In twenty years we won't even recognize the computing environment.

rickscr
rickscr

I mean lets face it a smart phone is not going to work all that well with most business applications Things like screen size, keyboards etc become issues when you are under the gun to get things done. At the end of the day the new form factor for computing will have to include docks or something of that nature for use in most production environments. I would agree how ever that VOIP and Unified communications strategies will over the long run replace the traditional desktop set. Though I would think 5 years is a bit short on time. We just installed a converged voice/data network infrastructure to enable the replacement of our aging traditional PBX with a VOIP system that does at least at this point include for the most part desktop sets. The projected life of this system is 10 years. We are working on soft phones and wireless strategies now.

Mark.E.Geres
Mark.E.Geres

Can anyone provide an example of a public sector organization that has succesfully migrated to VoIP and/or cell phones and gotten rid of their desk phones----in quantities ranging from 10K-60K?

Jeff7181
Jeff7181

Sounds like those CIO's are thinking of their own job like wizard57m-cnet said. Apparently the ability to play Angry Birds is the steepest requirement for them to do their job.

Rye5
Rye5

My experience is in the retail sector and I'm of the opinion that anyone involved in the daily mechanics of buying, stocking, merchandising, tracking and selling of widgets requires people to be on-site with tools (desktop and phone) present. If the world of brick and mortar was to become extinct those same job requirements would remain, the only difference being presentation. I'd imagine that there are several other business markets that require the same investment in tools and people. It's the services that are or can be provided outside of the four walls that the "vanishing phone and desktop" would apply. Ever have those little bits of incomplete ideas pop into your head, you know those ones that just need a little nurturing and time to develop? I've had several of those as I've been typing this comment...... thanks for the push Steve

gevander
gevander

PC is "Personal Computer" and is broken into two types - [i]desktop[/i] and [i]laptop[/i]. If they are saying the [b]desktop[/b] PC is going to disappear from the business world, that might be true - if they are going to give [i]every[/i] employee the option to work from home and expect that [i]every[/i] employee will work off-site some of the time. For any office worker that does not [i]need[/i] to work from home, the desktop PC is the cheaper option, per unit. I know my phone could go away and I would still be able to take calls because I have the same software running on my phone and on my laptop. When I work from home, I can plug an headset into the laptop and take calls as I would in the office. The tech is not perfect yet, but it is good enough for now.

hmmmmm!
hmmmmm!

Forgot to add to other post, suggest CIO and ALL C// levels push for actually intelligently and productively "communicating" on current HW/SW. For now a lot said and sent and various "wireless-phones-etc etc, but little of any value to a business actually being sent or said. Seems we "communicate" faster from anywhere, but 90% is simply junk, that needs corrections big time as flood of data and such out there now is in real need of some attentions. For now we tend to "communicate faster about everything, but actually do not say or do very much about anything with all the "Communications". ONE BIG QUESTION ON BYOD, WHO WILL OWN THE INFO on it, the company or the BYOD owner?

JohnVoda
JohnVoda

The shift away from desk phones is inevitable. Employees want mobility/flexibility (work from home, work anywhere), and companies want to reduce costs (no monthly fee). The BYOD shift accelerates this, eliminating the need for companies to pay for the device (and sandboxing software/services move this further along), and Unified Communication services push the trend further still. The use of landline phones by consumers continues its decline, and suggesting it isn't and won't happen for some businesses is fallacy. Yes, SOME businesses may always have a landline phone, but most will not. Regarding the shift from PCs to tablets, again, there will always be a segment of employees who need a PC, but as cloud services grow and the functionality of tablets expands, there will be fewer of these employees. "Big Data" and the power of remote/shared processing means decreased need for powerful PC processing. Empoyees and companies value mobility (freedom) and cost reduction, and when tablets are cheaper than PCs and allow equal (or greater) functionality (via cloud services, etc.), the shift will be inevitable.

hmmmmm!
hmmmmm!

Two things missing, one was what types of business are targeted, paper shuffling or eng or chem or sciences, ins, health care etc? Most firms the can toss the PC, phones in five years probably do not need them now, the others are going to need them or like items to PC, not just for design, etc, but to communicate such. Second item NONE discuss, ever, is the hourly and daily cost to the business for thousands of the mobile phones, company policy on uses etc. So while all the "future" sounds great, as usual the upper end is about 10-15 years ahead of reality with their "wish lists".

angry_white_male
angry_white_male

Desktop phones are here to stay and will never be completely replaced by mobile devices because: a.) cellular dead spots within buildings b.) difficulty locating person who called 911 or security in case of emergency (read: huge liability to corporation) c.) some employees calls are recorded as a matter of policy d.) companies want control of their voice traffic - particularly when it comes to call detail recording, etc... e.) BYOD presents a major security loophole - especially with corporate e-mail on devices that people don't like having to 'unlock' every time they pick the device up... lost phones are an info sec nightmare. f.) crappy voice quality - many have horrendous speakerphones, and most Bluetooth earpieces are garbage at best g.) poor battery life h.) high monthly costs, frequent replacement cycles (1-3 years) As a matter of disclosure, I maintain large phone systems for a living - including a number of large 15-20 year old PBX's that are bulletproof. VoIP has it's place and purpose, but traditional TDM digital or even analog phones will continue to be the choice of public safety agencies, utilities, etc... because of their superior reliability (99.999% or better up-time), superior voice quality and they do not depend upon a network infrastructure to work. I've had 20 year old phone systems get submerged in a flood for a couple of days, and after they dry out and cleaned up - they still work (they still get tossed anyway as their long-term reliability comes into question not to mention they've been written off) but I've had one at home for almost a year now and it's still humming along nicely. They just don't make them like they used to. VoIP - there are many good systems out there, but what are the replacement cycles? Are you ready to swap out PoE switches and VoIP systems every 5-8 years? If the network goes down, so does your phone system. If the phone goes down, so does the network connection to the PC connected to the phone (unless you run VoIP over separate cabling). Laptops - if your employee isn't required to work in the field, travel, work form home, etc... no need. Laptops present a security challenge - particularly if they're stolen, or mommy's work laptop becomes little Johnny's playtoy... and you often have IT departments replacing them in 2-3 year cycles, as they get dropped, stolen, and generally wear out faster. Tablets - I don't see the value of these in the enterprise unless there's some specific application that requires them. Their benefits in portability and battery life have some appeal. But they're horrible when it comes to productivity software. My wife's employer issued her an iPad for work - and she rarely uses it and prefers to use her laptop instead. So it's just an expensive toy that she uses to read in bed with and Skype with family. And again - security concerns for the ones that get lost/stolen.

RalphCelento
RalphCelento

The move away from desktop PCs, regular phones, and even laptops is coming faster--faster than we might want to accept. In just a little over 30 years we have moved away from the "brick" and "bag" cell phone to Smart Phones that have more power and capability then many could have over predicted. Introduction of tablets and other pads will replace the desktop and laptop PC. I know in my MBA program nobody is using laptop they (including myself) are all using tablets. As these devices continue to get better, more functional, use of the Cloud, and connect us not locally but globally. I see the day when we talk to computer and it becomes self intuitive to help us solve more complex problems. Recently we lost Neal Armstrong the first human to step on the Moon. Today's PC and maybe even phone/tablet has more processing power than the command module and lunar landing unit combined. I see the day when like in the series Star Trek our communication and computers are even more useful and helpful than the creators of that series could have even predicted.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr

i think what they mean is that the desktop PC for most users can quickly be replaced by a Laptop instead of a PC or a mobile device with an appropriate docking station or in the case of something like the MS Surface a cover that's also a keyboard and track pad and wireless networking so that it can be used as if it was a desktop. My current phone has 1.5 GHz dual core processor and 1 gig ram. hook it to a hdtv and use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and it can do a lot of stuff including development of software for the phone, on the phone. (The ultimate in 'I can do anything with my phone' when you can develop any software you want on the phone itself.) I think this is what they mean. A phone with a desktop OS for when it is plugged into a dock. If you can give one of these to every employee then they can get rid of both phone and desktop. With Surface tablets coming with Intel processors that will make some office somewhere ditch their desktops for all except a few who require multiple monitors and the high end of processor and graphical requirements. or can you hook an external monitor/HDTV as a second monitor to a surface? Hope this helps,

lhAdmin
lhAdmin

I've heard the "death of the PC" story more times than I can count and I've yet to see it come to fruition. I'd love to know what these "CIOs" believe will replace the PC. A tablet instead of a PC? Really? So people will actually work on complex 25 column spreadsheets on a tablet screen? And yes I've heard of virtual desktops but that's still an expensive option for many businesses and it still cannot provide the same power for certain applications. What? Virtual Desktops in the cloud? Sounds like a good idea but can you guarantee that company providing that desktop will still do that 5 or 10 years from now? I don't believe mobile working has increased the relevance of fixed hardware. So far it's mainly done what it was created to do -- allow people to work from almost anywhere. Please poll those same CIOs in 5 years and let us know what they're saying. Maybe I'll be wrong and we'll all have terminals implanted in our heads sending output to our contact lens.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

cell phones don't always provide the best sound quality. Sometimes you can't even understand what the other person is saying. Why would you risk missing an important part of a conversation when phones are cheap? Especially an IP phone that uses your existing internet connection. PC's will only be redundant for folks who only use applications that require a small screen. I know that once I moved to a dual monitor set up working on anything smaller is very frustrating. Not to mention that I become less productive. Even now if I could get larger, higher resolution, monitors I would go for it.

kate
kate

Try working on multiple spreadsheets on an iPone or laptop for that matter. I even find docking my laptop too inconvenient. My desktop sits there at the ready, my trusty steed. It's my go-to tool. Don't see giving it up any time in the near future.

kmthom
kmthom

Wikipedia lists the data bandwidth of PCI-e cards at ranges of 250MB/s to 16000MB/s (Keep in mind that is megaBYTES, not megaBITS...). The bandwidth of HDMI 1.3 is listed as having 10.2Gbit/s. I may be waaaay off-base here; perhaps someone with more knowledge on the subject can correct me. But, it seems you would need one fast internet connection to be able to utilize the full range of the hardware we are using over the "cloud." I realize that the processing power is what will exist on the cloud. It would probably be only a preprocessed image that is transferred over the wire, as opposed to raw graphic data directly into the monitor. But the idea of doing 3D-modeling, gaming, intense graphic design, or artwork completely over an internet connection using nothing but the "cloud" is very implausible. It kind of feels like doing a very complex, open-heart, surgery. Only the surgeon is looking at a TV-screen of a TV-screen, and is operating using chopsticks....from 20 yards away. ...AND the surgeon is "sharing" the chopsticks with every other surgeon.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Whether it's a processor board embedded in the monitor or an external box that the monitor connects to, something still needs to convert the data to video and back again. Digital transmission of raw video would require a separate display adapter for every remotely attached monitor. Highly inefficient.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

every 5 years, I know of many that have a pabx that's over 20 years old. As to the much more expensive, and stealable, laptop with docking station, I'd only recommend that for positions that require the mobility - your also get a higher level of adjust-ability with a standard style desktop.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Cell phone, about 100 -- to 400 dollars each, plus 100 dollar a month plan. Desk phone, 50-100 dollars for the basic phones plus company lines (cheaper if you use voip).

dogknees
dogknees

I can just see all the small manufacturers and other similar businesses sending the office manager home with a tablet!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

of other jobs. many jobs require multiple people to have access to the original document records and that can only take place in a central location. In that case it makes more sense to have a set work desk and a cheap wired phone instead of a cell phone. Another thing a lot of people in the US who make these predictions forget is that the rest of the world does NOT have the same coverage or charging system. In know of people in the US who use cell phones that cost about the same as a wired phone, but in Australia a cell can cost you up to twenty or thirty times the cost of the same usage for a wired phone. Use of the Internet of the cell system is very expensive compared to Internet over the wire, too.

mbbs
mbbs

What I see (I sell PBX and Unified communications systems) is very different from your experience. the move to All IP is happening very fast, in small companies and even faster in larger corporations having CIOs. We sell TDM, IP and hybrid systems, and I can assure you that TDM is hardly ever sold, hybrid is sold a lot, but full IP systems are gaining market share. As for the other arguments a. we place extra GSM antennas inside buildings to get rid of dead spots and PBXes are coupled with the mobile network in order to make mobile phones behave like an internal PBX phone. b. The PBX transmits location info of IP and GSM phones to the emergency services, if configured correctly there is no problem about liability c. When these calls are routed trough the PBX, they can be recorded d. no problem, the PBX takes care of that, It can also report about mobile traffic when coupled via IP to the mobile network. e. BYOD devices can be remotely controlled by corporate policies and can be wiped remotely f. most people are used to GSM 'quality' g. Agreed, but when you work at your desk, plug in the charger h. in my company all PCs are replaced after 3 years (the lifetime of the maintenance contract) In the near future, smartphones and tablets will be more powerfull, and even now you are able to connect some of them to a large screen, and you can certainly use them in a corporate environment when the company starts rolling out desktop virtualisation (still rare nowadays, but it will come) in that case, all corporate data resides safely on the corporate servers, and security riscs occuring with devices with local storage become less important.

Slayer_
Slayer_

And it did just essentially send you a video feed. But there is even a bigger problem than bandwidth, imagine the computer required to run 40million copies of a game simultaneously.

Slayer_
Slayer_

40million processors and 40million high end GPU's. And each usually requires about 400 watts for the GPU. Someone do the math here.

kmthom
kmthom

I'll take 2, please... :-)

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