The PC is dead, and other tech myths

posted at 4:01 pm on July 6, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

Four things you might have thought you knew, but which might not be true, as brought to you by the geek section of Real Clear Politics. I found at least three of them directly relevant to me, and the fourth one is doubtless of interest (or at least a subject of heated debate) for many of the rest of you. How many of these things are true and how many are just inaccurate popular perception?

The first one is that the desktop PC is dead.

The headlines couldn’t be more final. “The Death of the PC Has Not Been Exaggerated” reads one. “Ding Dong the PC’s Dead” reads another.

While we certainly recognize that many computer experiences that previously required a PC (email, web surfing) no longer do (and PC sales are slumping and mobile device sales are surging precisely for this reason), we think it’s premature in the extreme to sound the death knell for the PC.

If it’s a myth, it’s certainly one I was taken in by. I built my own desktop PCs for more than the last decade, (a decision driven by the fact that I used to do some heavy duty gaming on my machines) but the last desktop PCs in my house are now out of commission and heading for the scrap yard. Both of us now use laptops full time. However, the authors note that some gamers will still insist on using a PC, particularly for the full, traditional keyboard. (I don’t game on computers anymore, just my Playstation, so I suppose that’s possible.) They also note that business applications frequently benefit from using dual monitors on a larger desk, giving a leg up to the traditional PC. Are any of you still strictly PC users?

Next up, America’s internet access is awful.

That America has sub-standard internet access is something of an article of faith among many tech journalists. But the truth is America’s internet speeds aren’t all that bad on a global basis. According to the global network provider Akamai, the U.S. ranked eighth in the world with internet speeds of 7.4Mbps.

I don’t travel internationally enough to have any anecdotal evidence to offer on this one. I’ve heard people complain about it, but at least in the places I travel to, my experience has been that high speed internet access is pretty ubiquitous in the US. I’m sure that some of the more rural areas are still getting by on sub-par speeds, but I’ve also felt it was just “a matter of time” before everyone was up and on board. Are the speeds really that much faster and more widely available in Europe and Asia? I guess Japan might have the jump on us.

Third, low cost, internet streaming video is going to kill cable television.

The advent of low-cost, all-you-can stream internet video was seen as the death knell for the hated TV industry. And while cable TV subscriptions have fallen off from their peak, traditional pay TV (i.e. from cable, phone or satellite providers) is still generally healthy.

I suppose I tend to “believe” this one, given the number of younger people I see watching TV shows on their phones and tablets when I travel. And I have frequently been mocked on Twitter when I talk about “missing” some show I wanted to watch, generally by people who brag about not having had to sit through a commercial for years now. I still don’t even have a DVR. The closest I’ve come to this “unplugged” world of watching television is finally figuring out the On Demand feature on Time Warner to watch some shows which already aired.

But my big question is, how do these mobile devices get around the fact that it’s the content providers, not the deliverers, who control the flow of entertainment media? When it’s all said and done, you still need something to broadcast which people will actually watch.

And finally, (and of the least interest to me) Apple is no longer innovative.

It wasn’t long after Apple reached its stunning valuation that critics began to question the company’s capacity for innovation. Where, they wondered, were the path-breaking products like iTunes, the iPod, iPhone and iPad — products that could create (or ignite mass enthusiasm for) a whole new consumer experience? The naysayers have only grown louder as Apple’s stock has experienced its dizzying drop.

So why is it a myth to declare that innovation is dead at Apple?

The authors claim that Apple has always let a few years elapse between their “next big thing” announcements, so it’s too soon to pronounce their demise. I wouldn’t know. To this day I have never owned an Apple product and I have no plans to start now.

And yes… you can get off my lawn.


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Given the recent stories of PRISM, I don’t see a lot of people having confidence in the public clouds companies. There are a lot of advantages small business can get out of them (big company IT infrastructure that’s pure opex and not capex).

What a boatload.

For starters what is a public company? Wrong country dude.

Next the idea that everybody is some Ed Snowden/madisonconservative/Alex Jones, conspiratorial, malcontent is ridiculous. Most people making money online are simply interested in making more money.

You sound like the spawn of Guy Fawkes and Fred Flintstone.

Capitalist Hog on July 6, 2013 at 11:42 PM

As to the “America has terrible internet”, I have noticed posting on a couple gaming/tech forums that is most definitely an article of faith… of young mush for brains progressives. I find it humorous at least when they all jump to put on the sackcloth and pull out their flagellation whips to do their “oh what a horrible land is America, oh why Gaia was I born in such a wretched place” routines thanks to our world renowned terrible internet and foreigners respond by informing them they have it rather good compared to England, Australia, Brazil, etc. Well, except for those who rather feed the young progressives delusions.

jarodea on July 6, 2013 at 11:44 PM

The PC will be dead when there are no such things as data entry workers or secretaries or anything of the sort.

Or to put it another way, there are millions of office workers who don’t want, don’t need, and wouldn’t be able to use as well anything BUT a desktop pc.

Windows 8 is going to be about as popular as Vista with businesses. Their workers don’t need a tablet-pc, they NEED a desktop pc that acts looks and is the size of…a desktop pc!!!

MelonCollie on July 6, 2013 at 11:46 PM

You I sound like the spawn of Guy Fawkes and Fred Flintstone.

Capitalist Hog on July 6, 2013 at 11:42 PM

KOOLAID2 on July 7, 2013 at 12:03 AM

As to the “America has terrible internet”, I have noticed posting on a couple gaming/tech forums that is most definitely an article of faith… of young mush for brains progressives. I find it humorous at least when they all jump to put on the sackcloth and pull out their flagellation whips to do their “oh what a horrible land is America, oh why Gaia was I born in such a wretched place” routines thanks to our world renowned terrible internet and foreigners respond by informing them they have it rather good compared to England, Australia, Brazil, etc. Well, except for those who rather feed the young progressives delusions.

jarodea on July 6, 2013 at 11:44 PM

Like I said earlier, the advantage Europe and Asia have is low investment in equipment and bandwidth per subscriber. HOWEVER, you point out the dark side of that: The denser population tends to crowd the allotted bandwidth more.

Sekhmet on July 7, 2013 at 1:07 AM

“For starters what is a public company? Wrong country dude.”

A public company is one whose shares are traded on the stock market. An IPO is known as “going public.”

sauropod on July 7, 2013 at 1:32 AM

And BTW, being in the middle of nowhere’s a good thing.

Badger40 on July 6, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Yeah. I have to agree with you about that. I love living out in the country.

trigon on July 7, 2013 at 1:34 AM

To this day I have never owned an Apple product and I have no plans to start now.

No problem. It’s not like they’re a cult. They don’t have any Messiah, or prophets, or temples. Just Steve Jobs, Apple “Geniuses,” and Apple Stores.

Maybe not the best analogy.

They don’t demand you turn over all your money to them. Just pay two or three times what the same hardware would cost from someone else.

Ok, maybe they’re just a little cult-like.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 7, 2013 at 1:52 AM

Video streaming will eventually kill cable. And you will ultimately purchase content through the google play and apple app stores.

That’ll be the next big thing.

jhffmn on July 7, 2013 at 2:08 AM

The PC isn’t dead. Rather, the suppliers are crying because sales are terrible.

Sales are terrible for a mix of reasons:

1. PCs last awhile if you just use them for desktop applications and don’t need high performance gaming that requires frequent upgrades.

2. Windows 8 is a dog. Many people and businesses are holding off on upgrades until MS takes its head out of its backside again.

3. The economy is terrible and skimping on IT budgets is just another symptom.

4. Tablet sales are still pretty good which leads suppliers to conclude that their business has gone to tablets. It hasn’t, people are buying tablets because they don’t have tablets. They still have their PC or equivalent.

Its more sensationalism driven by bad choices from several big players in the industry which of course Apple is gobbling up greedily.

Karmashock on July 7, 2013 at 5:10 AM

If you don’t like Apple products, don’t buy them.

I won’t. I had one awhile back and hated it. I use a PC and have a laptop as a backup. I try to use it (the laptop) as little as possible–the keyboard is terrible.

zoyclem on July 7, 2013 at 6:26 AM

The main reason PC sales… which is desktop computing sales… are down is that the PC met all the real needs of business somewhere around, oh, 2001-02. Yeah Big Data and all that, but you don’t need a desktop for all that, just a good network. If you required a dual or triple monitor system with decent displays and a relatively reliable OS, then you basically had that over a decade ago. To run spreadsheets, word processors and limited scope databases was a major goal of the PC manufacturers of the 1990′s and then they reached that goal and the ‘cutting edge’ turned to the gaming community.

If you wanted separately threaded video streams in large multiples run by a PC, then I saw that with a single processor system running the Be/OS back before 2000. Win2K made strides in reliability and performance and I skipped as much of XP, all of Vista and only went to Win7 when it was time to build a new machine due to parts death on my prior build. I shrunk the form factor (tower to micro atx), doubled the performance and moved the decimal point to the right for storage by one position. What I kept from my old system is notable: a marble trackball and a clicky keyboard. The laptops I use are about as powerful as my prior desktop but don’t have a good keyboard and mushpads can be enticed to work, but not well.

The PC isn’t dead: it has reached saturation and no longer offers higher utility for a replacement every 2 years. I went nearly 8 years before I replaced my prior desktop, and didn’t gain as much as happened with waiting just 2 years in the ’90s. Moore’s law has limits and they are being reached, and storage has limits on what you can do with spinning disks and they are slowly being reached as well. To do something ‘different’ will take quantum computing, holographic storage, and a decent PC underpinning to run that until the bugs are worked out of the system. That is on the horizon. When that hits it will do to our world what the PC took nearly 30 years to do, and probably do it in 3-5 years. I’ll probably sit out the next round or five of upgrades, and only replace damaged (snap, crackle, pop damage) equipment.

Until then saturation has been reached and maintenance is never a field to sell like gang-busters. If companies can’t adapt to that, well, nice knowing them! Those that wish to survive must adapt. That is capitalism and it works, while cronyism gets you worse and less for higher cost and less performance. I’ll take the former, thanks.

ajacksonian on July 7, 2013 at 8:00 AM

the keyboard is terrible

The voice to text feature of my Iphone and Ipad have made the keyboard practically obsolete.

mike_NC9 on July 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

The voice to text feature of my Iphone and Ipad have made the keyboard practically obsolete.

mike_NC9 on July 7, 2013 at 8:30 AM

I’m happy for you. And in another ten years, you will likely forget how to write out a simple sentence in cursive or typewritten text (or for that matter, spell the words that compose the sentence).

zoyclem on July 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

I’m happy for you. And in another ten years, you will likely forget how to write out a simple sentence in cursive or typewritten text (or for that matter, spell the words that compose the sentence).

zoyclem on July 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Considering the state of public ‘education’ this is a very real danger. Not to mention the privacy aspects of having to say out loud everything you’d want to enter.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM

To this day I have never owned an Apple product and I have no plans to start now.

MCSE, CCNA, A+, Network +, Server +, and Security +

Network Administrator, Site Services, NOC Ops, and Field Services for over 20 years.

And I too have never owned an Apple product and I have no plans to.

I’m yet to find the Laptop (let alone phone or tablet) with the horsepower to handle 3D rendering in Lux, Poser, DAZ 3D, Bryce, or Vue; So I shall stick with my Desktop. (Note: not one game in the lot.)

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Given the recent stories of PRISM, I don’t see a lot of people having confidence in the public clouds companies. There are a lot of advantages small business can get out of them (big company IT infrastructure that’s pure opex and not capex).

What a boatload.

For starters what is a public company? Wrong country dude.

Next the idea that everybody is some Ed Snowden/madisonconservative/Alex Jones, conspiratorial, malcontent is ridiculous. Most people making money online are simply interested in making more money.

You sound like the spawn of Guy Fawkes and Fred Flintstone.

Capitalist Hog on July 6, 2013 at 11:42 PM

In 1998 America Online discovered something fascinating.

They were making MORE money selling the information contained in their subscriber list than they were from the monthly payments received from those same persons on their subscriber list.

In a day and age when information is the power behind making money, protection of that information becomes paramount.

Therefore, many businesses will trust to Physical level of protection of that information rather than Promises of Protocol level protection.

In other words, my information, stored on my HP9000E, On My Site, Behind My locked Doors, with the capacity to Unplug My Cat 6 RJ45 from the back is the situation I prefer.

And that is NOT a Boatload.

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Considering the state of public ‘education’ this is a very real danger. Not to mention the privacy aspects of having to say out loud everything you’d want to enter.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 10:11 AMv

“..buggering animals plus you tube..”

:-D

The War Planner on July 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

“..buggering animals plus you tube..”

:-D

The War Planner on July 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM

/ \
0.0
~

I was thinking more along the lines of personal information and financial transactions…but I suppose that’s a valid example too.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

At work we all use 14 inch dell laptops hooked to a docking station and dual 22 inch monitors. If I have to take work home, I just take the laptop. If the 14 inch isn’t good enough I just hook it via hdmi to one of the big screen tvs and set the rez for two up applications along with mouse and keyboard. Then I vpn back to the work lan to access outlook and the network storage. Even works on the road as most hotels have big screen tv. Just tote the keyboard and mouse.

Yep. I think the pc days are gone. My last self built pc was a pentium 4 with sata and the latest and greatest built in 05. I’ve contemplated upgrading it since the case was made of wood and really looks nice. Given the prices these days, I just might and use it as a media center plus for gaming in the mancave.

I’ve had tablets going back to the Fujitsu 2400 thru 5000 and they have their uses but I don’t think the latest are still ready for prime time office work. Altho they are great for certain jobs like warehousing and on the go data recording such as inspections.

AH_C on July 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM

In other words, my information, stored on my HP9000E, On My Site, Behind My locked Doors, with the capacity to Unplug My Cat 6 RJ45 from the back is the situation I prefer.And that is NOT a Boatload.jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Concur. I never bought into the cloud simple because of physical security. Might not matter to the fortune 500 but it matters to me.

AH_C on July 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Concur. I never bought into the cloud simple because of physical security. Might not matter to the fortune 500 but it matters to me.

AH_C on July 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

The new fascination with “cloud” this and “cloud” that gives techies like me the leaping meemies. There is NO true subsitute for a local copy, not including security concerns. “Cloud” storage is complete strangers playing musical hard drives with your data in any number of situations.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 1:50 PM

The idea that a mobile device you carry with you can ever completely replace all the functionality of a dedicated full size appliance is stupid. Ihis is not just about technology but also ergonomics and productivity. You might as well argue office desks are obsolete and people will complete all their work while walking on the sidewalk.

Resolute on July 7, 2013 at 2:56 PM

Are any of you still strictly PC users?

I would say Primarily, rather than strictly because my laptop handles most of my e-mail or internet lookup and youtube functionality.

But for creating 3D models in Hexagon and 3D images in Poser, Bryce and Vue (plus Luxrender and Blender 3D) my PC is my primary station.

AMD A8-3870 APU with Radeon HD Graphics 3.00 GHz
16.0 GB (15.5 GB Usable)
64-bit O/S Windows 7 SP 1

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Concur. I never bought into the cloud simple because of physical security. Might not matter to the fortune 500 but it matters to me.

AH_C on July 7, 2013 at 1:17 PM

I will never forget my wife’s reaction to a News Story shortly after 9/11 regarding all the Financial Houses that had Lost Significant Data when the Towers Fell.

She looked at me and said, “Is that why you clutter up your area with all those stupid tapes from work?”

She was referring to the fact that I offsited Yesterday’s, Last Friday’s and Last Month’s EOM backup tapes from the company Servers at all times. I kept telling her that the possibility of the Company burning down the same night our house burned down was astronomical, so having the offsite tapes was important.

I guess all those “Harvard” educated IT types at the Financial Companies didn’t think the same way I did.

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Also, don’t start on software unless you WRITE COBOL, C, C++, or Java — and the jury is still out on the last one.

The War Planner on July 6, 2013 at 8:36 PM

You forgot Pascal, Fortran and G-Code. (All of which I write as well)

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Oh yeah, RPG II (haven’t used since the late 80′s)

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:40 PM

But I do have to admit, my C++ looks just like Unix C (written in vi) because I simply cannot wrap my head around the concept of a Member Object being a Function.

I guess that’s why Smalltalk 5 was lost on me.

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

And then there was when I was writing R-Base apps, graduated to PAL (Paradox Application Language) and finally focused on SQL (rather than Oracle).

So Yes, I can talk Software.

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Those who say the PC is dead don’t own a business! At our radio station, we have a PC in every room, two in each studio and use them for our commercial software, music software, streaming software, on air software and financial business software. We all have laptops and iphones, but you have to have a PC to run all the software and interface with the hardware to be able to get on and stay on the air. The PC will never be dead as long as there are businesses. Operating out of the cloud sounds wonderful but if you lose your internet connection, you have nothing and how long will it be before your monthly fee to access that info get so high you can’t afford it? Terabit hard drives and redundancy is necessary for a business to operate efficiently and dependably. I have to agree, Windows 8 is worse than Vista and business will never upgrade to 8. A lot are still running XP.

flytier on July 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

You forgot Pascal, Fortran and G-Code. (All of which I write as well)

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

..man, I would bag on Pascal except that it’s what got me into C/C++. The say that “all good Fortran programmers can program Fortran in any language.”

Heh.

Exit question: you know why Pascal demands that the main routine follows all — er — functions and procedures?

The War Planner on July 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:40 PM

But I do have to admit, my C++ looks just like Unix C (written in vi) because I simply cannot wrap my head around the concept of a Member Object being a Function.

I guess that’s why Smalltalk 5 was lost on me.

jaydee_007 on July 7, 2013 at 3:41 PM

..STOP! You got creds, bro. At least you haven’t tainted yourself with any VB.

And relax about your “lack C++ of objectivity”. It’s a common symptom with us life-long career types. Probably easier to maintain your code that one fellow I knew who would abstract everything to the point it resembled one of those birds who flew in an ever-diminishing spiral until it flew up its own assshole. The stuff was a nightmare to untangle.

:-)

The War Planner on July 7, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Windows 8 is worse than Vista and business will never upgrade to 8. A lot are still running XP.

flytier on July 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

It’s going to be interesting to see what the ruckus from businesses when Microsloth “officially” discontinues support for XP will end up doing.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Windows 8 is worse than Vista and business will never upgrade to 8. A lot are still running XP.

flytier on July 7, 2013 at 4:12 PM

It’s going to be interesting to see what the ruckus from businesses when Microsloth “officially” discontinues support for XP will end up doing.

MelonCollie on July 7, 2013 at 6:19 PM

Actually, you’d probably be surprised to learn that a Major Fast Food Chain has it’s entire network running NT 4.0 SP 6 and Microsloth supports it for them TODAY!

A Major Retailer of Reading Material is on NT 4 for its servers and Windows 98 for its POS systems – also supported.

Will Bill and Co. will pull the rug out from under us unwashed masses, they still support the businesses that tell them NO to forced upgrades.

jaydee_007 on July 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM

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