PCs

What tablets? Steve Ballmer sees a future with a lot more PCs

Steve Jobs declared the start of the post-PC era on Tuesday at the D8 conference. Steve Ballmer fired back saying there's a lot of growth left in the PC market.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared the beginning of the post-PC era on Tuesday at the D8 conference. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage on Thursday and fired back, saying there's a lot of growth left in the PC market.

Ballmer and Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie did a joint interview with The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg at D8, where they talked about cloud computing, Microsoft's mobile strategy, and Jobs' comments about the future of personal computing.

Specifically, Ballmer said:

"I think people are going to be using PCs in a greater and greater numbers for many years to come. I think PCs are going to continue to shift in form factor. PCs will look different next year, the year after, the year after that... I think the PC as we know it will continue to morph form factor... Windows machines are not going to be 'trucks.' They will continue to be the mass popularizer of a variety of things that people want to do with information... I think there's a fundamental difference between small-enough-to-be-in-your-pocket and not-small-enough-to-be-in-your-pocket. There will be some distinct differences in usage patterns between those two devices."

He is the five-minute video clip with the full context of Ballmer's remarks:

Sanity check

Ballmer doesn't see tablets as anything special. In his view, tablets are simply one of many PC form factors that computer makers are experimenting with and will continue to experiment with in the years ahead. Ballmer believes business people (and many consumers) will have two computing devices: a PC and a mobile phone. He admitted that Microsoft missed the boat on mobile, but thinks the market is still dynamic enough that Microsoft can make a comeback and win a piece of it.

Ballmer's PC+smartphone view of the industry is not very original. In leadership parlance, this is what you call reactionary rather than visionary. Ballmer has never tried to be a visionary. He's an operations guy. He's all about executing well. That means you have to make your bets on the right things. Unfortunately, that requires at least a little bit of vision.

Microsoft is the incumbent, the industry leader in personal computing, so it doesn't have to be as bold and risky as Apple. Microsoft will be able to milk the Windows and Office franchises for a lot of profits for the next decade as more and more businesses in developing nations join the digital revolution. That's what Ballmer has his eye on.

Still, tablets and smartphones are offering a faster and easier path to join the digital world. It's entirely possible that many of the users in developing countries will skip traditional PCs altogether. If Ballmer doesn't get Microsoft out in front of that trend, then the company is in danger of missing out on the industry's next big growth phase.

For instant analysis of tech news, follow my Twitter feed: @jasonhiner

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About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

79 comments
jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Heads and asses seem to be well acquainted with each other in Redmond, WA.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Yes, there will always be a need for some sort of desktop-centric computer, though it may take the form of Microsoft's 'Surface' rather than Windows as we know it now. Artists, whether they be photographers, manipulators or sketch/painters, need the ability to 'touch' the work to move things where they want, paint where they need, or draw a line to detail a single eyelash. These capabilities exist in desktop computing as it currently exists, but the precision is not natural, the shapes, the moves, not intuitive to the artist. Writers, whether they be reporters, journalists, novelists or even simple bloggers, need access to a keyboard to type their masterworks, but the mouse is a less-than-intuitive way to point and highlight/correct sections of text when traditionally they could just reach up and erase so they could type over the corrected text. It can also be significantly easier to touch the specific entry point when you need to insert new text in a nearly-completed work. Again, touch can be and is more intuitive--more natural than dragging a mouse around. Question: Why have graphics and 'touch' tablets that connect to the PC become so popular? Because they give you a sense of 'touching' the work in progress--of truly manipulating the data manually rather than 'point-and-click.' So while we will always have a need for some sort of 'centralized' computer for major works, they aren't needed for the majority of what anybody does. When you're on the road, traveling for business or pleasure, your laptop goes along so you can keep up with and respond to email. It may include certain documents needed for a sales pitch or collaboration effort. It may even include personal or enterprise-sensitive documents needed to achieve a specific goal. But for most it's merely a mail and entertainment device; more used to browse the web than to perform any true productivity. This is where a Mobile Computing (MC) device like a tablet can shine. It's smaller, lighter and potentially less expensive than the average laptop computer, and can do most of the same things that a laptop does when mobile. When necessary, it may even connect back to the desktop to let you do remotely what it can't do on its own. This is mobility. Imagine having the power of a supercomputer at your fingertips when you need it, without having to carry a massive, clumsy, clunky device everywhere you go. Imagine carrying something thinner and lighter than your monthly planner that has the capability of giving you not only your schedules, but the local weather forecast, your favorite music, your favorite movies or even an unlimited supply of local information wherever you are? Now put all this capability into something that you don't have to set down to use. This is merely one aspect of Mobile Computing and the direction computing in general is headed. Yes, there's a need for centralized computing, but PCs as we know them are going to see some very significant changes. They won't be PCs any more.

smcclelland3
smcclelland3

Gates had plenty of vision and predicted tablets in "The Road Ahead" in the 1990's. Microsoft knows what its doing. TV screens get bigger, phones become small pc's--but there will always be a need for a decent-sized screen to work with. PC here to stay.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Same goes for MS - well he would say that!

RobHS
RobHS

PC -> changing form factor = tablet, so pc = tablet

akayani
akayani

Apple make hardware, MS (mostly) don't. There is some nice hardware for this that runs Windows. Do you want a tablet that does everything a PC does and uses the same software or do you want a device that needs new software, links you to Crapple and makes you pay and pay? No thanks!

wbranch
wbranch

I'm thinking you won't see laptops/tablets rule the market until you can overcome the physics of trying to cram a lot of hardware that runs hot into a small space. I've seen hard drives which were simply flash drives stacked together, so they have hard drive storage capacity, but run faster and much cooler, but they're not at a consumer price point yet. When you can pack the same power into a laptop (hard drive, CPU, graphics card, etc.) that you can into a desktop without heat and battery issues, and do it at a competitive price point (remember desktops can be had for pennies...and yes I know many of them are crap, but people will still gravitate to cheap) then you will have eliminated the need for a desktop.

jfuller05
jfuller05

for quick references and small, quick operations, especially when you're in a group of friends and you all want to watch a quick video or listen to some audio. Before, you would have to crowd around a computer, that's not the case anymore. Personal computers (towers) will still be around though, the parts will probably get smaller still, but for gaming, large document typing, and general computing, PCs are still needed. You can't get those types of operations on a smartphone or tablet, yet. :) I agree with Balmer that PCs will change. In my opinion, you won't see a tower get much smaller than they already are. Of course, the biggest thing to remember is that time will tell. We can all speculate right now, in the end, time will reveal the answer.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Jobs says we're entering the 'post-PC' era. Ballmer says there's plenty of life left in PCs. Reality will probably prove to lie somewhere in the middle.

dougogd
dougogd

factor. I can tell you about 30 people right now that won't use anything but a desktop computer. That is just out of 40 people. These are people that i know personally. Everyday users. The other 10 will only use laptops.

dirklance
dirklance

To summarize your post... Mobile Computing (MC) = iPAD Wow, you really are a fanboy.

tony.kew
tony.kew

Don't forget home users will also need large powerful pcs/laptops for editing their home movies especially as some cameras now take avchd-lite and others take full HD. Tablets won't be able to supply the power to do this in the short term

rbosgood
rbosgood

On my Home PC (one I built) I have a video recorder running, I have 2 USB hard drives, 1 USB video Camera and a USB accelerometer sniffing for earthquakes 24/7. Yeah.. this is a little more geeky then the average home PC, but can you imagine me trying to hang all those devices off an IPAD. If I ask to much of the power supply I can replace it with a beefier one. I can upgrade the CPU, memory or the whole motherboard if need be. That PC has been running for 2 years without interruption (it is on a UPS so it survives power failures). I don't see that happening with notebooks or phones or tablets. The PC tower will always be popular with some of us.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

I think Ballmer and Jobs are actually saying the same thing, albeit in different ways. Jobs seems to be using the term "PC" as an analogy to "Desktop", and he's right that they're definitely on the way down as the consumer market will likely evaporate in favour of laptops and tablets over the next few years, restricting desktops to business users. Ballmer talks of PC's as personal computers and says it's the form factor that'll change and he is also right. I have a desktop Dell from 2004 running XP that I still use because it can surf the net and store / play all my media. If I buy a machine next year it'll do the same, except it'll be a tablet. Most "personal computers" in the home are used primarily for media consumption, the occaisonal light bit of productivity people need if working from home etc can be met for the majority by a stand and a physical keyboard / mouse. I think Microsoft do need to change their "two screens and the cloud" mantra though, it'll more likely be "two screens, some other media-related gadgets, a big storage device with integrated modem / router and the cloud".

QAonCall
QAonCall

To make a decent analysis, since the follow on questions one would ask are not asked? For example, what do you mean by 'post pc area' what does that actually mean? All itune users will download a secret malware piece that secretly whisper in your ear to throw away your pc and buy a mac/ipad/iphone? or does it simply mean that CPU and memory/storage will become smaller faster and more mobile? If so, well then really is that visionary? As long as I can remember the notebook has been getting smaller, faster and thankfully lighter? You know why......consumers (business mostly) want lighter more powerful machines? OMG, the free market works! Just find the article less informative than what we really what to know. BTW, I think both leaders are specifically sparse in the details they provide. The most enlightening (and probably the core of what Jobs really meant) is the statement that the iphone 'fell' out of the ipad development. I really do not think that the iphone was some 'looking into the future' visionary device. in 1999 I bought an HP pda, except for the applications and the touch screen (which you could use your finger with the PDA just not as expansively) the iphone is a more advanced pda and the ipad is a reaction to the netbooks that filled a niche market. Apple excels at niche markets. MS take the majority of the pie and you either like all they have, or some of it. But the fill the market and try to address everyone vs Apple trying to hit target niches.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but I don't need or want a mobile connectivity, computing, entertainment, or media consumption device at this time.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... it's become obvious to me that many people who used to sit in front of a desktop all day now spend far less time at the desk, spending it instead on the sofa beside their wives or even out on the road because they're no longer chained to a flat surface. The biggest shift I've seen has been laptop users and netbook users, but even desktop users are 'getting a life.'

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Gods know I have found plenty of reasons to disagree with vulpine. What I got from his post was a preference for touch interfaces. See his comments about MS Surface and touch-based graphic input peripherals. I don't agree with him, feeling that detail work requires a tool more accurate than a fingertip, but I got nothing Apple-centric from his post. Other companies besides Apple have mobile tablets in the works. I don't think he uses the words 'Apple' or 'iPad' in this post, and he appears to be trying to keep his comments focused on specific technologies as opposed to specific manufacturers or models.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

How do you equate a generic commentary on mobile computing to the iPad without being a fanboy yourself?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What percentage of home users actually edit photos and videos? Heck, what percentage of workplace users do? Just wondering. I don't expect tony.kew (or anyone else) to be able to provide statistics.

akayani
akayani

I can't remember a time when Crapple stuff didn't look kewl when it was released, or kewler that most. Nor can I remember a time when a few years later it looked just a ordinary as any other old hardware. The fact here is that many people make Windows devices and Windows can be customised to any purpose. http://news.cnet.com/2300-1041_3-10001596.html?tag=mncol http://www.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wxnpgpW4BIy2IJoX Crapple do good hype but they are every bit as suxy as the rest, perhaps suxier and a bunch of patent trolls to boot. We all know it's $800 worth today and junk in 2 years.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Don't underestimate gamers as part of the home market. Online gamers won't settle for WiFi speeds or the smaller screen sizes of mobile devices. Screen size and transmission and refresh speeds are everything when your virtual butt is on the line.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Mr Jobs refers to PC meaning personal computers in desktop and probably notebook formats since he's focusing on the tablet form factor. Mr Ballmer referse to PC as Windows based computers (the sales guy uses the marketing BS definition.. who'da'thunk). He seems to say that there will always be a place for Windows based systems but links that idea to "PC" rather than expressing it in a way that shows recognition for Windows OS on other form factors beyond the traditional "PC" desktop and notebook shapes. In the end, they are both selling a current product by waxing about future products. That is there job after all though.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Home power users upgrade their computers with new parts, you can't really do that with a laptop, however, business don't upgrade parts, they just bulk buy new computers.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I think the crux of it is that Apple wants to change personal computing market more drastically and give people more friendly appliance-like devices, while Microsoft thinks it's going to be much more of an evolution and wants to try to serve a lot of different needs with more multi-purpose machines and software.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I could use one (or 4) of those babies.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]At home I also have an i7 desktop PC and a Windows server environment for centralized file storage & printer server.[/i] My take was that the Winserver was a separate box from the i7.

Slayer_
Slayer_

"home I also have an i7 desktop PC and a Windows server environment for centralized file storage & printer server." Seriously??? You have THAT much horsepower for such a menial task? Tell ya what, I'll trade you computers, I'll give you my 200mhz machine that has both Serial and USB printer support and 10/100 networking, and you give me your computer. I can properly utilize that i7 system, and you will get a machine with more than enough power to store files and print documents.

spasse
spasse

Rather than this being an either/or discussion, here is how I see this evolving. My 1st PC had address switched & load buttons (1 address at a time) so I have been privileged to experience PC evolution from the beginning. I have owned used Apple products since the Apple II and I also had a 5150 IBM PC. My current work desktop PC is an i7 based machine with 3 monitors. So I don't see a tablet PC replacing this any time soon. I also have an iPhone and this holds a very useful place in my digital world. In my work environment, I often take my laptop to meetings, to take notes or to make presentations. At home I also have an i7 desktop PC and a Windows server environment for centralized file storage & printer server. But I can definitely see a use for a "Couch PC" be it a netbook or an iPad. An "iPad like device" would probably be ideal for this as if I need to do something more intensive, I would need only to walk a few feet to my traditional PC. The "Cloud at Home" has a lot of appeal for those of us that don?t trust (And perhaps never will) the cloud for the storage of their personal documents, from the standpoint of privacy. Solid state drive technology and simplified home server environments will soon make this a more user friendly and safe solution. Steve Jobs is definitely a visionary. He did after all take a company on the verge of bankruptcy; lead it to become a company that just recently exceeded the market cap of Microsoft. So in summary I guess that what I am saying is that I see the traditional PC, Full featured Laptop, Cloud Apps/Storage & iPad like devices all continuing to evolve together, with the imminent demise of none of them.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Apple didn't invent any of this technology specifically, they brought it all together into a package that works the way it should have from the beginning. From what I've seen, the patents Apple holds are on how certain aspects of the device work more than what the device or features are. What I expect is to see desktop computing head in the same direction.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Knowing as I do that tablets and mobile PCs have been in use in medical, retail, and industrial applications for years, I tend to have an open mind when it comes to mobile computing. The Apple iPad could conceivably fill some part of the industrial/medical/retail tablet niche, but from what I saw during a five-minute test session in the big blue box store, it is not nearly rugged enough for some of the hard use it would face. What I think is really changing is the number of devices that qualify as "personal computers," be they tablets or PDAs. There's no real difference between the touchscreen tablets in use today and the Apple iPad other than how the user interacts with the interface.

dirklance
dirklance

err..Im not a fanboy or anything else for that matter.. I just happen to notice something about the majority his comments. Specially when it's about Apple, even though his last post was as you said "generic"...I don't know maybe it's just me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't edit photos. Just for giggles, have you tried alternatives to PhotoShop to see if they behave any better? I'm thinking primarily of Gimp since it's free, but there are other apps.

Slayer_
Slayer_

It's the problem with frameworks built on top of frameworks. Use Fireworks instead if you are on a budget, and/or on a slow computer. It hasn't received any attention from Adobe since they bought it from Macromedia. It will run on a machine from 2000 and newer no problem.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

And neither does Palmetto: "I just drag the [pictures] off the camera and delete the ones I don't want. The rest get burned to CD for backup and then rotate as wallpaper." I've never played Sorry on a slow computer, either; what does Adobe have to do with a classic board game?

dougogd
dougogd

doesn't work does it 2 hrs just to do a filter. Sorry doesn't work on a slow computer adobe saw to that.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I just drag the off the camera and delete the ones I don't want. The rest get burned to CD for backup and then rotate as wallpaper.

lars_honeytoast
lars_honeytoast

Especially sources. I was wondering why one needs a powerful computer to edit photos.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd be interested in what they think is different enough to justify a patent against prior art. I do like that they are thinking in the direction of passive charging though and hope more hardware vendors start too. From experience, my Protrek only sucks when the battery starts to die off which shows the importance of self-replaceable batteries remaining in the mix.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You mentioned a desire for kinetic or solar recharging for these devices, and just today (sunday) I discovered an article that stated Apple has filed a patent for solar-charging their phones/pads/pods. Don't know any details and don't know how it could be done differently from any other solar-type system, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

" Crapple make custard, MS make cornflower. Some manufacturers of custard use cornflower from MS. Crapple have a simple relationship with their manufacturers our way or the highway. MS have deeply complex relationships. MS make some bad choices like $500M poured into DRM when there were more important objectives or fighting with Google. Crapple have made bad choices too in the past. " Apple makes a final product where Microsoft makes a component combined into other manufacturer's final products. Apple keeps a strangle grip over there parts suppliers where Microsoft has various different relationships (I'd be curious to know further details about this myself; what relationships, what complications and such). Both companies have made bad choices in the past including MS R/D into DRM implementation rather than things that benefit the end user. " It's up to MS to 'get clear' (in Scientology terms) and focus on outcomes that consumers are interested in. Rather than being pushed about by the few and powerful orgs that have agendas they can't achieve which have zero positive outcomes for consumers. " I shiver a little at this part's reference to the Scientology cult but freedom of religion and all that. It suggests that MS is being pushed around by other mega-corps where I'd argue that MS does most of the pushing. In relation to the first bit, MS definately does the pushing in relation to the vendors it has "complicated relationships" with. They may not be pushing as hard as they where in the time of the Haloween document leak but they're still pulling every contract trick they can get away with to minimize competition. " At the end of the day MS creates more opportunities for others to follow up. Crapple keep the best opportunities for Crapple. " Microsoft creates opertunities for other's to profit where Apple seaks to limit third party opertunities. - I'd argue that the huge "opertunities" created by microsoft for security related vendors is not something to be proud of. Hopefully Win7 and successors will limit "opertunities" for third party protection racket software. In the end, Microsoft and Apple are two very different companies which can't be directly compared. Windows and osX can but overall product offerings are not the same; Apple is a hardware vendor who produces there own embedded OS not a software vendor who sells to OEM and end users. " A year or two down the track it won't matter a damn. "What the battery doesn't last a week and isn't charged by the kinetic energy of moving fingers, how crap!" " This would be an interesting development. I'd like to see kinetic charging in mobile devices along with embedded solar panels. The Casio Protrek line of watches is a great example; clean looking face with bezel ring background made from solar panels. If your out and about, your outdoorsman's watch will keep on ticking with you. (bit of a pain in light limited times of year though) I almost stopped reading the post at the first shallow misspelling also. The poster could have made much stronger points by spelling the company names correctly.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

To be quite blunt, I don't know what you're talking about--if anything. That was so much triple-speak that your meaning got lost in the mush.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

You may have some good points to share but spelling it "Crapple" along with the other snide miss-spellings doesn't help anyone's case. Your points will be much stronger if you use correct name spellings and allow the points to stand on there own. In the end, Apple and Microsoft are not directly comparible as they produce different classifications of products. Windows is produced as a component to be included into other products where osX is produced as an embedded OS. Apple is a hardware vendor who happens to produce there own embedded OS rather than using software from a third party. Micorsoft wants to lock the consumer into Windows regardless of what hardware it is on. Apple wants to lock the consumer into it's own hardware and specific services. At the end of the day, the similarity is that they are both beholden to the share holder's equity far and above the consumers best interest.

akayani
akayani

Crapple make custard, MS make cornflower. Some manufacturers of custard use cornflower from MS. Crapple have a simple relationship with their manufacturers our way or the highway. MS have deeply complex relationships. MS make some bad choices like $500M poured into DRM when there were more important objectives or fighting with Google. Crapple have made bad choices too in the past. It's up to MS to 'get clear' (in Scientology terms) and focus on outcomes that consumers are interested in. Rather than being pushed about by the few and powerful orgs that have agendas they can't achieve which have zero positive outcomes for consumers. At the end of the day MS creates more opportunities for others to follow up. Crapple keep the best opportunities for Crapple. A year or two down the track it won't matter a damn. "What the battery doesn't last a week and isn't charged by the kinetic energy of moving fingers, how crap!"

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

You are right that Windows can be customized to almost any purpose; that was proven ten years ago when Bill Gates so loudly proclaimed the era of the tablet computer--running Windows, of course. He introduced the Tablet Edition of Windows and declared that there would be a tablet in every hand by 2006. The very next year he again proclaimed Tablets to be the PC of the future--and all you heard was the crickets of a silent venue. Why? What went wrong? Windows could do it; Bill proved that, but even with nearly every PC manufacturer coming out with one or another tablet or hybrid laptop, nothing happened. Sales were so slow that even Apple at its worst sold more machines than all the Windows-based tablets combined. Why? Because while the OS was capable, developers saw no need to ignore the keyboard and mouse when you could attach same to these 'tablets' and use them as super-portable desktops. Why create touch-centric software when all you were doing was pretending the touch was a mouse? As a result, no tablet software--no tablet sales. Along comes Apple, who introduces a touch-centric cell phone--not quite powerful enough to be called a Smart Phone by those used to the Blackberry, but remarkably more capable than 99% of consumer cell phones, which did little more than offer talk and texting capability. The iPhone became the Smart Phone for the masses. Very swiftly, the device was essentially copied and now everybody has an iPhone-like device on the market, including RIM. But one thing the iPhone did was get people used to the idea of touch-centric software. Three years later, Apple shows the world how a tablet [i]should[/i] work. Not only that, but because it uses the same OS as the iPhone, it already has a huge base of touch-centric software that can take advantage of a 6x larger screen as well as all-new software designed specifically for the device. Suddenly, people not only understand what a tablet should be, but they want it in numbers unimagined even by Microsoft when they first tried to introduce the concept. Interestingly enough, Hewlett-Packard realized the direction things were headed. They took Microsoft's touch capability and put it on a touch-based desktop--attempting to spur adoption of tech technologies with Windows; but sales were modest at best. Touch looked like such a great way to use the computer, but still, it was Windows; who needs touch? HP tried to work with Microsoft to again spur tablet computing; anything to get a jump on Apple before they could announce their own version--but yet again, the concept fell flat on its face, earning a 'meh' from developers and users alike. Then Apple announced the iPad, and people were crowing over it. "How Different!" "How Magical!" "How Innovative!" What was different? The technology was a simple extension of the touch-screens of old. In fact, there's hardly any really new technology in it. But wait! What about the Operating System? It's fully touch-centric and already has an impressive user base from the iPhone. Rather than trying to stuff a desktop OS into a mobile device, Apple used a mobile OS and just enhanced it for a larger device. It's not Windows, but it's also not OSX as most people know it. HP's response? Dump Windows and buy Palm to gain access to WebOS. While there's no verifiable data as yet, the rumor stands that the HP/Microsoft Slate will be released as an HP/WebOS device instead. All they need to do is figure out how to integrate WebOS with their other enterprise-centric devices to have a floor-to-ceiling solution for any enterprise need--including mobility. Could Windows do this? Yes. Did they? No.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Console controls alone are reason to have many types of games far away from them. If PC gaming is indeed dying (as rumours claim for well over a decade now) it's not because of the consumers. It's the game developers starving consumers of PC versions or including DRM schemes which only hinder and drive away paying customers. When/if gaming on PC dies.. they game developers will claim "piracy" but the real cause of it will be staring back at them in the mirror.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

I agree, but some games recently, perhaps most notably Alan Wake, were scheduled for PC release, shelved and became console only. If we see more of that in future the PC gaming market could go the same way the Amiga gaming market did back in the day (a Tuesday, I believe).

Papewaio
Papewaio

I think the "home hub" (would that be the home cloud?) is more of what we are going to see where you walk in and all your wi-fi devices connect to a central hub. I've got a basic setup for the iPhone, Wii and Printer all are wireless. With a main PC for keeping all the primary sets of the photos. Interconnectivity is going to increase as is the power of all the devices. I would like to see home distributed computing as well.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

(I know; because that analogy isn't overused is it.) With cars, we have kit cars and other enthusiast builds but we also have the pre-fab models that dominate the roads. I think we'll see prefabs like notebooks and such becoming popular but there will still be the home-rolled machines for us "kit builders" that want to be able to replace any part with improved models. For a business, why buy a desktop and a notebook for one staff when you can simply buy a notebook and a docking tray for them? Most places with a support contract simply call for help when a desktop falls over so it's not like they are opening the case and doting deep hardware support inhouse anyway be it desktop or notebook chassis. I'll give up my home desktop chassis when pried from my cold dead hands but I have to have a pretty good reason to buy any more desktops for the office.

Tom-Tech
Tom-Tech

@SinisterSlay What wbranch said :) "Evaporate" was probably overboard on my part, but the vast majority of home PC users are not power users, which is why we can do things like run un-upgraded, six years old machines and have no problems. These users won't want a desktop when a laptop / tablet can do all they need to do, in any room in the house. Where the desktop has the advantage is in storage and this is why I think we'll start seeing "home hub" devices come out that will act as a repository for photo's, films, music etc. Mobile devices will then back-up / synchronise their contents to it and whenever you want to change the media on your phone / tablet you can just delete some content off it and copy more on from your hub. That's what I'd aim for if I was running a tech company anyway. If I was Ballmer I'd even offer people the option of using their XBox as a hub device.

wbranch
wbranch

Probably for two reasons: a) They're usually cheaper b) They can be more easily physically secured (i.e. bolted to a desk) The company I work for is a mix. We have laptops for sales people, IT, and 'power' users who will work from home from time to time. The 9 to 5ers get desktops. I don't see this trend changing any time soon, as there's no need for many of our users to take a computer home, since their job/responsibilities usually end when they walk out the door at the end of the day.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There was a quick flirtation with component computers years ago. The most interesting I saw was PDA brick that was little more than a hard drive with LCD on the side. When out and about, it functioned like a PDA. When you got where you where going, you could drop it into a docking cradle where it basically became just a hard drive with cradle providing greater processor, screen, inputs and such. I could see a laptop type cradle being produced for it very easily also. Wireless would be the modern day equivalent; bluetooth and wifi "hard drive" apps are already available for some PDA. Shame that there was not more interest in that form factor.

nonseq
nonseq

Not long ago I was thinking about how the early days of computing seemed so revolutionary and lightning fast and now they seem so slow and plodding. What changed? We were thrilled 20 years ago and disappointed by the same performance today. Why? I suspect that much of it is due to the greater transparency (that is the hardware and system get out of the way of seeing, and working with the data, information, communications, etc) afforded by faster and easier to use systmes. Ultimately, in my opinion the fastest, easiest to use, and most transparent systems will win out because they get out of the way of our own thought processes. That means that you can forget about manipulating and waiting on the technology and get on with the task at hand. Just my two cents

Slayer_
Slayer_

You just have on your desk, a keyboard, mouse and monitor, and when you put your tablet down next to it, it wirelessly connects to the 3 devices and switches to those inputs/outputs. It could also take from Nintendo's old school book, and allow attachment processors that augment the power of the tablet when needed. Need graphics power? Plug a box into the wall and the other end into your tablet, and bam, it suddenly gets a dedicated graphics system. Done with it and need to go mobile? Unplug it. This would be really cool. And its viable, Nintendo already proved it with the SNES. The SNES survived well into the 3D age because the cartridges could add or augment the main processor and add memory as needed. If this was invented, I would definitely buy it. This would signify the end of the PC era for me.

theguru1995
theguru1995

I agree, but the way the issue was placed it seemed a jobs vs ballmer competition...well, sure a dock is cool, had one way back when that was said about the laptops... and that fad died...why? well , convenience.. i for one do not like to plug and unplug things every time i need to type... or strain my eyes... so call me lazy, but i don't see the dock thing coming... besides, as careless as most of us are, me included, i would ruin my jacks...no, we need more devices, purpose built devices... perhaps a wireless solution might work... just a thought

QAonCall
QAonCall

Then he must be talking in circles. He is specifically distancing Apple products form expanding into the cloud too quickly, as well as reiterating (possible just a kick in the cuckoos to Google) about privacy. I think Jobs realizes that Apple's future is in entertainment and not much else. Thankfully the US, and the rest of the world, spend quite a few dollars, dinars and deutsche marks on entertainment stuff.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Let's shift from CPUs to graphic processors. The same model applies and with the growth of graphic content, there still plenty of room for improvement. Hard drives - Mechanical drives will remain the standard for several more years. Those motors chew up some juice; optical drives too. You can get better battery life with a solid state drive, but the total number of read/write cycles and price per gigabyte is still heavily skewed toward the older technology.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Okay, sure, you and I do (sometimes). But, for the past 3-4 years, the speed of the slowest PC processors on the market have exceeded the needs of the vast majority of users. Later this year we're going to see 1.5 GHz in a phone. If it had a suitable dock, that thing could power a 20-inch display plus a mouse and keyboard and it would be enough for most users.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It just takes longer to figure out how to get the same speed in a package that won't drain a battery and overload the cooling fans. By the time chip manufacturers get past those obstacles and have a processor ready for laptops, the next generation of desktop processors is ready for deployment. This model may change in the future, but I don't see any time soon when you'll be able to get the same laptop processor bang for the buck as a desktop.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

The whole Apple idea of ''post-PC era'' is based upon the cloud taking over everything. Well its just not going to happen. Now its the new buzzword but soon people will realize the limit of the concept. Do you imagine how fast the cloud would turn into a 1984-like privacy concern. Any government could know about your every move at will since everything is centralized. On another topic, power. Having a portable PERSONAL COMPUTER (i.e. iPad/netbook/smartphone) is nice to check useless youtube videos and checking emails but life isnt all about those 2 things. Sometimes your need real power, my tower (4.2Ghz, 16GB RAM and a 470 GTX) is about 20-40 times more powerful then an iPad. Those devices are nice for what they can do, which is far from everything. I think there is no revolution coming, just a normal evolutionary process.

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