Are Personal Computers (PCs) still relevant now that there’s smartphones and tablets?

(Hello, this paper was written for one of my module in School, have fun reading :D)

pcvsmobileIntroduction

The mobile market has exploded in recent years, making technology more accessible. Web traffic shows that the mobile platform is being used more frequently as compared to its rival, the personal computer. [1] Everyone we know owns a smartphone or a tablet and they are a huge part of our lives. We bring our smartphones or tablets wherever we go and our Personal Computers (PCs) such as desktops are neglected. According to the Royal mail, a delivery company based in the United Kingdom, revealed that the tablet, the iPad for example, is the 6th most wanted Christmas present based on children’s letters to Santa [2].  This shows that the tablet is becoming a highly coveted item, even amongst young children. As such, there is a worry that the relevance of its pioneer and competitor, the PC, is being eroded. Do such statistics tell us that the mobile platform is the future of technology and that smartphones and tablets will eradicate PCs from existence? This paper will focus on discussing the benefits and limitations of the smartphones/tablets and PC platform. After which, we will assess the relevance of PCs in view of rise of mobile technology. (Note that laptops are considered Personal computers)

Benefits of Smartphones and Tablets

The main benefits of smartphones and tablets is that they provide a simple user experience. They are small and light enough to be kept in pockets or bags, thus people are likely to feel more compelled to take their smartphones and tablets with them whenever they are on the go. They have multi-touch displays that stem from simple, user-friendly concepts, which makes smartphones and tablets easy for users to grasp and master the usage, giving them an interactive experience. Hence, this allows children and the elderly to learn and use these devices easily. During the product launch of the first iPhone (which is considered the pioneer of modern smartphones), Apple’s co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs had credited the revolutionary success of the iPhone to the multi-touch technology. [3]

App Ecosystem on Smartphones and Tablets

The app ecosystem on mobile platforms such as ‘App Store’ has a wide selection of applications for entertainment, education, lifestyle and utilities which add value to our lives. For example, Runkeeper, a lifestyle application which monitors a user’s runs. Users are able to keep track of the calories burnt and use the application to pace themselves, enhancing their running experience. An educational app: Little Writers, teaches children to write and draw shapes. This application takes advantage of the multi-touch display and make fun animation so children will find the applications fun and interactive.  John Connolly, Technology Director of Chicago Public Schools said “ We put the iPads in front of the students, you’ll see the kids immediately focused on the content and start working through the work,’’ [4]. With all these benefits, institutes like Chicago public schools deployed tablets like the iPad as tools for education as they are better learning devices than Personal Computers.

Benefits of Personal Computers

Personal computers such as desktops and laptops possess powerful hardware such as powerful Central Processing Units (CPUs) which have faster processing and multitasking capabilities compared to its smartphones and tablets counterparts. These traits are desired by content creators and gamers, who require technology of higher sophistication. Many ‘Content Creating’ applications such as AutoCAD and Adobe Premiere need to run on such hardware. Content creators also requires peripherals such as keyboards, mouse, audio equipment and special drawing pads to aid their production. These feature-adding peripherals enhance the ability of personal computers through the Input-Output ports (I/O ports). PCs come with many different I/O ports like Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports for such purposes. There are unique peripherals like driving wheels and flight control systems which connects to computers to run applications like flight simulators and play games like Real Racing. These are examples of how applications and peripherals complement each other’s functions for an immersive experience. Computers games makes up a substantial part of PC usage, and it has a huge market. Reports have shown that more people watched the Finals of League of Legends (a popular Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game MMORPG title) than National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals in 2014 [5]. PCs have powerful hardware, rendering high resolution, realistic graphics to captivate game players. The larger screens on personal computers allow complex User Interfaces and many applications to run simultaneously, making the experience more work-friendly.

Cloud Computing Versus Personal Computers

The benefits of the PC clearly shows that they are here to stay. However, emerging technology like, Cloud Computing will threaten the relevance of PCs. Cloud computing refers to the storage and access of data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. [6] Nvidia Grid is a cloud computing service which streams Computer games. Games will be processed in servers and streamed into Nvidia shield (a portable gaming device), allowing computer games can be played anywhere with an Internet connection. Previously, PCs were used as hubs for our digital world, where all of our Music, videos, photographs and documents are stored on our PC. Now, people can store their data on the Cloud with services like Dropbox and OneDrive. Hence, Cloud Computing downgrades PCs as a hub for our digital information.

Conclusion

As quoted from Steve Jobs, when the USA was an agrarian nation, most of the vehicles were trucks, as they needed trucks for farming. However, with urbanisation, cars became more popular. [7] Today, only 6% of USA’s vehicles population are trucks, a huge decline from the past. [8] [9] The PCs face the impending fate of declining usage like trucks as newer technology emerge to replace them. The usage of smartphones, like cars, increase in retrospect. Smartphones and tablets will continue to improve and do more of what PCs currently can. However, like trucks, PCs will still be relevant due to different needs from different consumers.  A fall in demand will not diminish the relevance of PCs as they will continue to dominate the professional sector. With the improvisation of technology, usage for Smartphones and tablets will continue to rise among the common folk, improving everyday life. After all, “technological evolution is the result of our own desire to lead a better life.”-R.S.Amblee [10]

 

 

 

 

 

References

[1] R. M. “Mobile Now Exceeds PC: The Biggest Shift Since the Internet Began,” 8 July 2014. [Online]. Available: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/opinion/2353616/mobile-now-exceeds-pc-the-biggest-shift-since-the-internet-began, July 8, 2014). [Accessed 3 June 2015].
[2] “mkweb,” 16 December 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.mkweb.co.uk/CHRISTMAS-PRESENTS-Royal-Mail-reveals-year-8217-s/story-25716542-detail/story.html. [Accessed 3 June 2015].
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[6] E. Griffitn, “PC mag,” 20 April 2015. [Online]. Available: http://asia.pcmag.com/networking-communications-software-products/2919/feature/what-is-cloud-computing. [Accessed 18 July 2015].
[7] “YouTube,” 29 April 2013. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfJ3QxJYsw8. [Accessed 23 07 2015].
[8] “United States Department of Transportaion,” 2012. [Online]. Available: http://www.statista.com/statistics/183505/number-of-vehicles-in-the-united-states-since-1990/. [Accessed 23 July 2015].(cross referred with source 7 & 8)
[9] “Truck Info,” 2003. [Online]. Available: http://www.truckinfo.net/trucking/stats.htm. [Accessed 23 July 2015].
[10][11] “Good Reds,” No date. [Online]. Available: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/technological-evolution. [Accessed 20 July 2015].Picture from “http://www.teachonmars.com/blog/2015/05/pc-personal-computer-or-past-choice/”