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Preparing For Life After the PC

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the pieces-are-all-in-place dept.

Cellphones 636

New submitter Doctor_Jest links to a recent I, Cringely column, in which Cringely "is speculating how the world will look when the 'Post-PC' era is in full swing." He makes the case that in just a few upgrade cycles, extensible phones and other devices, coupled with remotely stored data, could replace most of today's conventional PCs — but also admits he thought this transition would have already happened.

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636 comments

I'm a PC (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581597)

And this is my FP.

We're gonna lose a lot. (5, Insightful)

DL117 (2138600) | about 2 years ago | (#40581623)

Remember what we can do with computers now, because if the industry has it's way, within a few years technology more capable than various sizes of smartphones will be unheard of.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (4, Interesting)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | about 2 years ago | (#40581677)

I know, stupid me, I never thought of not being able to buy parts.... I just thought I could put the PC in a cupboard and still access it. (High end sound, graphics processing, etc...)

What becomes of media creators? Do we have to buy more and more dedicated gadgets?

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (5, Insightful)

wet-socks (635030) | about 2 years ago | (#40581745)

What becomes of media creators? Do we have to buy more and more dedicated gadgets?

The media creators will still have their toys, but this is all about the media consumers. Big money hates that every joe can create content and IP without them getting a cut, so they're pushing for a (licenced) media delivery only internet and killing the tools end users have for being creative.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581839)

But thank goodness there will always be Acer.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (2, Interesting)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | about 2 years ago | (#40581967)

The media creators will still have their toys, but this is all about the media consumers. Big money hates that every joe can create content and IP without them getting a cut, so they're pushing for a (licenced) media delivery only internet and killing the tools end users have for being creative.

Persactly. I worked in big arse joe (main stream media), now I'm indie and I'm loving cheap media tools, subscribing and loving. Will I still get them? Can I still use the linux toolchain I have built for my work? Or am I f**king screwed to use adon'tbe? (%$^^ing %$^^)

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#40581793)

You still need some kind of development platform for the mobile devices, so the PC will still be around. And a lot of work done in reality still requires a PC.

Of course - you may argue that you will use the cloud, but the cloud isn't always accessible.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (5, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 2 years ago | (#40581879)

100 percent true. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to do coding on a tablet's keyboard. And as soon as I start carrying a keyboard around (and a mouse, assuming the keyboard doesn't have a trackpad. It's not ergonomically feasible to have a keyboard but still use the tablet's screen as a mouse) then it's a PC. And if I need to use a Wacom tablet-like device? Will I also be drawing on the tablet that I'm supposed to be looking at? It's no different than the Newton (or even the Microsoft web-TV thing) - They kept saying you could add peripherals like a keyboard and hard drive, etc. At that point it's a PC, no matter what you call it.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (5, Insightful)

santosh.k83 (2442182) | about 2 years ago | (#40582053)

I guess the bigger issue is not the form factor of future computers, but their capabilities. Will I be able to easily install an OS of my choice? Will I be able to develop for it without too many restrictions? Will I be able to modify it's bootloader and/or firmware? Will I be able to connect together diverse peripherals from many different manufacturers for the functionality I desire? Can I retain most of the functionality of the system even without an Internet connection?

Currently you can do all these with today's PCs. But will it remain so in the future?

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40581851)

Of course. Plus, I'm sure they would shit their pants with glee if the average person was out there replacing their computer as often as they're replacing their phone.

One can't ignore the benefit to the industry of throwaway electronics. When your PC breaks, you can take it to a shop and have someone attempt to repair it. When your phone breaks, you go to your carrier, get a replacement (either out of pocket, or via insurance, but either way they're getting paid), and the broken one gets sent back to be refurbished (and sold AGAIN at a profit) or ends up in a landfill.

Also, from a software standpoint, what's going to happen in this glorious "post-PC era" when half the devices out there are locked down to the point where they can only run "approved" software? We're going to have to hack our shit just to get back the ability to install and run whatever the fuck we want on our devices? Come on....

They can have my PC when they pry it from my cold, dead hands...

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (3, Insightful)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 2 years ago | (#40581891)

lol - I love how ridiculous this articles are. Desktop PCs are not going anywhere. Laptops are great, phones & pdas are great in a pinch but nothing compares to a triple monitor beast to mess around with. If anything I see PCs becoming more relevant with wireless display tech. 1 computer, multiple users, multiple displays. No need to sync because it's all on one system. The cloud will be based out of the home and you access it from anywhere.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581921)

If I had my way, you would understand that it's means it is.

Re:We're gonna lose a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581979)

You really need to go back to school and learn how to properly construct sentences.

Post PC (5, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 2 years ago | (#40581625)

Hmm, there is going to be a continuing and significnt need for a device that has a real keyboard for all the people who write a lot of text every day; substantial local CPU power and storage for people that do stuff like development, modeling and simulations; good screens and specialized input devices for people that do graphical design CAD and the like.

Now, that device might not be an X86 box that runs Windows, so in that sense it may well be "Post PC". But to all intents and purposes it will look and act very much like the laptop and desktop machines i have today.

Re:Post PC (5, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#40581655)

The "post-PC" world will look very much like the "post-book" world looks right now. *glances towards the large bookshelf to the right*

Re:Post PC (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581837)

The "post-PC" world will look very much like the "post-book" world looks right now. *glances towards the large bookshelf to the right*

You grew up in the book era and take books for granted. The next generation might think of bookshelves as something that their grandparents have.

Re:Post PC (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40581949)

Until the power goes out and they can't recharge their Kindle...then they're going to be right back to the books. Let's ask all those people living in those areas of the U.S. that have been without power for the last 3-4 days how well their eBooks are working out for them now...

I'll believe that eBooks are going to kill off paper books when the automobile succeeds in killing off the bicycle. I mean, it's only been a century or so, but I'm sure it's gonna happen eventually...

We all grew up with electricity, and those magic outlets have been ubiquitous for a century, but all it takes is one extended period without power for people to realize that they need a fucking back-up plan, and until we come up with portable cold-fusion reactors for every home, that's not likely to change.

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581973)

I'm 39 and I view bookshelves as something that my parents have.

Re:Post PC (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 2 years ago | (#40582007)

I'm a grandparent and I've unloaded over 2 thousand books. All my paperbacks went to the Friends of the Library sale. I kept my Hardbacks but really they're just for display. I have all my books stored on a tiny 32 gigabyte micro SD card in my Samsung 5" Galaxy Media Player. FBreader works wonderfully on it. Before this device I had a Nokia N800 that I liked but when I broke the screen I bought the Samsung for about half what I paid for the Nokia and it does so much more. I do miss Maemo as an operating system but Android works well enough for a media player. I use a Mac Mini however to convert videos and burn DVD's and of course to handle office work. I think the tablets and phones of today will merge into a network that includes workstations. Hell, it's already here.

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581897)

The "post-PC" world will look very much like the "post-book" world looks right now. *glances towards the large bookshelf to the right*

But no one has claimed were in a post book world. Not to mention were in the process of moving towards one. Lots of magazines, newspapers and comic books are providing the digital alternative. A lot of magazines Ive been reading since I was a kid like gaming magazines that have been around over 20 years are dead, some like game informer are switching to digital. Kindles and nooks are also becoming more popular since they are becoming more like tablets for more than reading books and cost a lot less than a ipad so more people will buy them and more people will buy books on them. No one has declared books dead, but were seeing a transistion period between the old and new.

Just like we have seen the demise of vhs tapes for dvd, then a very brief stint of HD on blu ray but even now physical copies of movies and tv shows are suffering while netflix and amazon continue to be top providers and only get stronger.

Video games are making the same transistion as well among a lot of other forms of media.

I know you want to sound smart, snarky and savvy but the fact is books are starting to feel the pinch of progression and evolution of their medium and it will only grow.

PC's are in the same boat thanks to the fact that smartphones and tablets do what the majority of mainstream pc users want and thats surf the net, upload something to youtube, check facebook, send an email, send a text and much more with all the types of aps out there.Not to mention tablets/smartphones are increasingly becoming gaming platforms and a lot of people just want farmville or the angry birds. Thats why diablo 3 might sell 4 or 5 million copies but angry birds selling 100 million. People are coming to realise, why should I go out and spend 300 bucks on a shitty computer when I can spend 200 bucks on a google nexus 7 that will do what I want and I can carry around or just upgrade my smartphone I already have.

Re:Post PC (5, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 2 years ago | (#40582037)

Thats why diablo 3 might sell 4 or 5 million copies but angry birds selling 100 million.

Because the fact that Diablo III costs $59.99 and Angry Birds goes for a whopping $0.99 has nothing to do with it...

People are coming to realise, why should I go out and spend 300 bucks on a shitty computer when I can spend 200 bucks on a google nexus 7 that will do what I want and I can carry around or just upgrade my smartphone I already have.

The $300 shitty computer can run pretty much anything you want to put on it. How many tablets and smartphones out there will even allow you to put any software you want on your device? Cheering on the post-PC era, with all the locked bootloaders and apps being pulled and features being removed after the device has already been sold via mandatory updates, seems a little short-sighted to me. I'll welcome the post-PC era when all the tablet and smartphone manufacturers aren't raping consumers for every penny they possibly can while deliberately degrading the experience of their previous devices to force users to throw their device into a drawer and buy a new one just to run the newest Angry Birds.

We're finally at that point with PC's where you don't have to run out and upgrade half the components in your build every 6-months to play new games and use new software, and you guys are eager to jump right on the platform that you can't even upgrade (nor repair, usually) and thus have to replace the entire fucking device to do so? What are y'all smoking?

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581685)

Hmm, there is going to be a continuing and significnt need for a device that has a real keyboard for all the people who write a lot of text every day; substantial local CPU power and storage for people that do stuff like development, modeling and simulations; good screens and specialized input devices for people that do graphical design CAD and the like.

Why does your desktop have to do the heavy-duty processing and storage?

I know the answer: networks are too fscking slow. But maybe in the future they won't be (I can dream, can't I).

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581885)

What else would do it? The cloud? That thing that strips away all ownership from those who use it? No thanks.

Re:Post PC (5, Interesting)

njen (859685) | about 2 years ago | (#40581697)

I was thinking the same thing. I work in the VFX industry, and I can see absolutely no future without PC's in this industry alone. Personally, for my last piece of new hardware, I moved back from an uber powerful laptop (heavy weight, 17" screen, etc.), to a desktop at roughly half the price with almost twice the specs, then I threw two 24" monitors in for good measure. I know others who have also recently made a similar move back to the PC (or PC like device).

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581755)

Why are people posting about their very specific needs, and overstating the impact those needs have for everyone else? Your vertical market is the minority.

Re:Post PC (4, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about 2 years ago | (#40581833)

Because it's a huge counterpoint to these idiots who constantly declare the end of the PC year after year yet it's demise has yet to materialize.

Re:Post PC (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581983)

When people say the "end of the PC" I don't think it's meant to be taken literally. I'll provide one anecdote: my wife. A year and a half ago her laptop died. She mostly surfs the web and sends a few e-mails so I asked her whether she'd prefer to have a laptop or a tablet, and recommended the Asus Transformer (with dock for netbook-esque experience). These days she never docks the transformer and only uses the house-hold laptop 1-2 per month to pay the last remaining bills that don't support the android browser or to print something.She manages her books, music, and internet life right on the device with no aid from me. Now, I don't think the PC is ever going away, but instead of having 2-3 laptops/PCs in the house everyone will have a tablet and there will be one laptop/PC stuck in the corner for power use.

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581845)

And people like me will always want a laptop computer.

Re:Post PC (2)

oakgrove (845019) | about 2 years ago | (#40581857)

The issue with mobile device as dockable PC is pretty simple. On a phone or tablet with a touch screen, you don't realize all of the little delays built into the system masked by the UI but when you hook your kit up to a mouse and keyboard, expectations change. And the ugly truth is, ARM just can't keep up. I've hooked my Xoom to a dock many times in an attempt to emulate a real workflow and it just isn't happening. And I've tried everything. turning off animations, over clocking, different apps, chroot. It just doesn't have the power. People hated net books for a reason and it wasn't just the small size. When you click something or open a tab, you expect it to happen now. in order for ARM to even be a contender, it needs to be twice as fast as it is and by the time that happens, traditional PCs will have moved on again. And I say this as a once champion of ARM as I saw it as a chance to break away from the Windows hegemony but I've tried and this isn't it.

-- Sent from my Xoom.

Re:Post PC (2)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about 2 years ago | (#40581907)

Why are people posting about their very specific needs, and overstating the impact those needs have for everyone else? Your vertical market is the minority.

Yes, but there are shitloads of minority vertical markets which are currently served by the PC and for which tablets and phones are not viable replacements.

And that's just in industry, never mind that there are a lot of people recording music at home, putting heavily-edited videos on youtube and tens of thousands of webcomics being done in photoshop etc. That said, it would be nice to have tape machines back in production...

Re:Post PC (1)

Mr0bvious (968303) | about 2 years ago | (#40581829)

And since 99% (ass statistic) of the computer users simply don't need that much horse power, we may find that this does become the norm and our desktops may become somewhat esoteric and have a price to suit (in relative terms).

I feel it's probably still progress towards a better state, but there will be some transition pain like with many disruptive technologies - in a few years you phone will probably have the power of your Deskop(tm) and we'll just plug it into our nice monitors and keyboard - I'm actually waiting for this day. Real mobile computing, just plug your phone (or equivalent device) in to the closest terminal dock and go... need to run, unplug and keep your session running.

Yes you can almost do that with a laptop today, but it just doesn't feel good in your pocket...

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581805)

THIS THIS THIS.
Keyboards are a MUST in an ungodly number of industries. This will NOT be replaced by some flimsy trash touchscreen.

The only way keyboards will be replaced is when Brain-Computer interfaces are in full swing, which won't be for at least a few decades.
The current BCIs are, eh, they are not that bad. But for constant use for keyboard-speeds, no chance. You'd end up having a seizure or bursting a vein or two.
Eye-Computer interfaces aren't that bad. But still not good for those speeds and will make even the best set of eyes need glasses in a year due to muscle growth. Those eyes will end up like Popeye arms... INWARDS.
Speech is still laughably bad for the most part. Or stupidly expensive for the really impressive ones.

The closest way I can think of replacing it with another system would be text prediction. I have used a fair number of pretty decent ones and can type in them with incredible speed, but they are still a little limited and still no match for a keyboard.
But word prediction can be a really powerful tool when combined with other things, and are invaluable for disabilities if they are also combined with eye tracking.

The idea of tablets finally getting around is nice. But they won't replace desktop jobs any time soon for anything more than filing a few schedules and doing some research and possible some basic simulations.
I just hope Apple don't gimp their supposed new 7inch tablet.
The 7inch tablet market is a valuable one and Steve was pretty ignorant to have blasted it. It makes far more sense in that form factor than a big bulking tablet.
With the right design, the right software tools, you can make software fit in to a smaller screen pretty easily. And it has already been proven to be working now.
Equally, a stylus is always better than a finger-based touchscreen system. No more Ribbon interfaces please. Good god. Even for a tablet that thing would look so insanely ugly. And it didn't even feel like a Ribbon either, that was the worst part! Where my rotating at? Menus? Get out of here!

Re:Post PC (3, Insightful)

JamesTRexx (675890) | about 2 years ago | (#40581819)

As I see it there will indeed still be a need for the current form of computing, but I expect there will be two major sides. One, the consumer side which will be smartphones and tablets combined with storage on the internet (through high speed wireless networks of course), The other the business side with the "traditional" laptops and PC's with local (network) storage.

So, actually not much different from the current options, just more refined.


And why did they put Slackware into the email address? I'm more of a Debian guy. o.O

Re:Post PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581943)

Very true.

I think where the article goes wrong is assuming that mobile devices HAVE to replace PC's. What I've seen is many people simply never jumped onto the desktop PC bandwagon as people like him assumed would happen. Instead, they waited for a device which suited their needs to come along. I'd say that many people who did adopt a PC early either have already dropped it in favor of mobile devices, or are simply waiting for their existing system to end of life. So I don't think we'll see much of a decline in desktops from this point on, but we'll see a lot more people who are completely without a computing device opting for mobile instead of stationary systems.

Dirt cheap? (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40581639)

I don't see how this vision ever becomes a reality in a world where putting significant computing power on my desk and fully under my control is dirt cheap. Comparatively a tablet or phone has a klunky and imprecise interface, poor processing power and needs more external support. Also the value of having a powerful processor in the box greatly speeds compute operations in many cases.

Your phone will go back to being dumb. (-1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40581643)

Think it won't happen? Here's the plan, man: Your phone is your PC. When you're home and you wanna surf, you just sit down and the TV or a big monitor is connected, as is a wireless keyboard. It all goes through your USB connection while charging at a lil' docking station.

3D might take a little longer as phones can't carry the big iron yet, and I have my doubts on the "in the cloud" 3D rendering where you are basically playing your game watching a video feed of your 3D instead of locally generating it on your computer (this is both response time and video throughput) will happen quite as soon as some are thinking, but there's no reason it won't happen eventually.

At the far end, your phone goes back to being dumb, being nothing more than a video terminal to sent mouse and keyboard clicks out to The Cloud, which is where the guts of your phone will be, and receiving video feeds back of what's going on.

Meh ... (1, Insightful)

lennier1 (264730) | about 2 years ago | (#40581647)

Wake me up once one of those toys can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation.

Re:Meh ... (-1)

dnaumov (453672) | about 2 years ago | (#40581665)

99,999% of the userbase doesnt need the performance of an actual 3D graphics workstation and the money is with the 99,999%.

Re:Meh ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581687)

You don't seem to have a grasp of how many people routinely use 3d graphics packages out there in the real world...

Re:Meh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581867)

You don't seem to have a grasp that the people "routinely" using 3D graphics packages don't use the power of a Graphics Workstation in the slightest- and that those people doing 3D work actually can do it on a Tegra 2/3 tablet or "desktop" right now.

Sorry, not buying the bullshit. (And it's that...)

Now, if you'd have said rendering or similar (which not everyone does...) you'd be truthful- but what you said? Nope. Not even close.

Re:Meh ... (2)

W2k (540424) | about 2 years ago | (#40581693)

Userbase? Sure. Money? Um, go spec up a 3D graphics workstation and see what those things cost. You don't need a billion customers to turn a profit selling that kind of gear.

Re:Meh ... (5, Interesting)

Ghostworks (991012) | about 2 years ago | (#40581873)

99% of the user base doesn't need some given functionality of the PC that the other 1% depend on.

About 80% of the user base can think of some functionality that puts them in one of those "1%" groups. For some it's 3D graphics. For some, it's computing power. For some it's the layout capability that a large screen+mouse+keys offers. For most, it's the ability to type... with all of their digits.

It may eventually get to the point where PC hardware is just a big (very big) tablet with a mount and connections for network, keyboard ,and mouse, but it still will be a PC.

Re:Meh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581895)

Ever heard of video games?

Re:Meh ... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 2 years ago | (#40582023)

The industry sector that's being held back by six year old consoles and the resulting half-assed PC ports?

The power demand for those isn't in the same league as professional 3D work.

Re:Meh ... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#40581853)

Wake me up once one of those toys can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation.

By the time these devices can compete with an actual 3D graphics workstation, that target will have already moved on. So you will never be able get closure on "Wake me when X can do Y"

not working so much (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581653)

I wanted to write a detailed rebuttal. But I don't have the patience to enter it in my phone.

Re:not working so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581821)

Amen

Re:not working so much (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581871)

By the time you did, the phone market would be "post-phone" and most people on /. would be using neural interface which are directly connected to the internet creating a virtual cyber world, sustenance would be fed intravenously, human waste would be excreted and collected by tubes, and getting divorced/dumped would become "Post" as well because you can rewrite your wife's/girlfriend's base code making it also "post-facebook".

the pc will remain (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581657)

I don't see people coding on devices with inferior screen(sizes), cpu power and input devices.

Omg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581705)

How many more "the PC is dead" story's are we going to get?
People have been saying the PC is dead since the 90's

Re:Omg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581935)

How many more people who can't spell "stories" are we going to get?

And we'll be just heads in jars, like Nixon . . . (2)

wrencherd (865833) | about 2 years ago | (#40581715)

. . . on Futurama.

From TFA:

It takes society thirty years, more or less, to absorb a new information technology into daily life. It took about that long to turn movable type into books in the fifteenth century. Telephones were invented in the 1870s but did not change our lives until the 1900s. Motion pictures were born in the 1890s but became an important industry in the 1920s. Television, invented in the mid-1920’s, took until the mid-1950s to bind us to our sofas.

We still have books and telephones and movies and tv's so what the hell is his point?

ps--Judging by his photo in the banner, his blog ought to be called, "I, Crinkly".

Re:And we'll be just heads in jars, like Nixon . . (2)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 2 years ago | (#40581765)

He's just showing us how he's 29 years ahead of the curve by adopting Instagram into his "professional" work.

Input Devices (3, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40581721)

As I enter this on my smart. Phone. I can't help but this.k that this demise of the PC is highly exaggerated. Keyboards and mice and the number pad are all much more efficient and less error prone, and therefore faster and more headache free ways to enter data. Until smart phones and tablets and other upcoming "smart devices" can compete in this regard (as well as screen real estate), the PC/laptop in business at the very least isn't going anywhere. I don't want someone angering any of my financial I.to on an autocorrecting tablet touch screen. And for those who might choose this argument, a ta let with a cover or keybiard accessory is really a laptop. Anyway having read the author's previous work I don't need to read thus one to k ow it should have been titled, "Cringley Jumps On The Bandwagon Again With Nothing Useful To Say Or Hasn't Already Been Said A Dozen Times Before, Or Both."

Re:Input Devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581917)

Cringely's off his chump on this one- unless he's talking about docking said phone into something that allows a bigger display and a keyboard. Something with useful apps (Unlike the tripe Motorola fobbed off on everyone...). Right now, most of the top end phones have the ability to handle bluetooth keyboards and mice combined with a means to do HDMI out the USB port while charging the device. My Galaxy Nexus is powerful enough to do word processing/spreadsheets/etc. when in the configuration I've described- and I've got applications that do the job and do it well. The only problem with using it in that mode is that, like you've said, it's clumsy to do work with the device without at least a keyboard paired with the device in question.

Life after books and telephones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581727)

In 1992 he predicted the death of the pc as we know it based on the observation that it took technologies like book printing and telephony about 30 years to become absorbed in everyday life. But did society have to prepare for life after books because most books are pocket books now? They're still books. Dit we have to prepare for life after telephones when the dial was introduced, or when it was replaced with a keypad? They're still telephones. And neither telephones nor personal computers disappear now that they are merged into smartphones.

The personal computer as IBM originally made it, of course that will disappear. But if that kind of narrow definition is the norm we shouldn't call books books or telephones telephones anymore.

Bleak (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 2 years ago | (#40581729)

So, when PCs have finally solved the problem of reliably working with standard OS and data (thanks to FOSS) we scrap it all to be more dependent on external providers.

It's not like prices will go up when the cloud becomes the only choice, oh no.

I said "we" but in truth, it's "they", the guys who seek more control over our computing experience (and have been doing so since they started closing the source and making a guy called Stallman have a working printer).

Cringely is a technological illiterate (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581735)

In TFA Cringely states: "Radio was invented with the original idea that it would replace telephones and give us wireless communication. That implies two-way communication, yet how many of us own radio transmitters?"

He is apparently unaware that cellphones, tablets, etc. use radio transmitters (technically transceivers) to communicate with cell towers, WiFi access points, Bluetooth headsets, etc.

Re:Cringely is a technological illiterate (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#40581887)

while many devices have transcievers, we aren't hooking up morse code keys and tapping out CQ QSX on them as the equivalent of the Slashdot nerds of early hobbyist radio thought everyone would be doing. While a cell phone has a transciever it acts like a telephone....not a ham radio setup.

Requires generational change (1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#40581737)

The reason is has not happened yet is sheer momentum, and the basic fact of human nature that people resist change.

Look at Slashdot readers, who you would think would be on the vanguard of this technological shift. Instead they are some of the clingiest whiniest buggy-whip holdingist resistors of change to be found, simply because post-PC devices cannot yet replace high-end CAD workstations or some other such uber-specialized nonsense that do not matter to the general trend.

The kids in grade school (at this point possibly even college), they know. They have no preconceptions to hold them back and can work in ways that supposedly modern technologists will not even try.

Another decade or so and you'll see the last remnants of the technological old guard washed away by inevitable change.

Re:Requires generational change (3, Insightful)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 2 years ago | (#40581815)

Give me a call when you can easily develop for the iPad on the iPad. Or when you can develop complex server applications on a Galaxy S3. PCs are going away in the consumer world (to the detriment of anyone who wants to create anything outside work without forking out a fortune), but PCs are going nowhere in the office where you need a large screen or two to efficiently do your job and a decent keyboard to do accurate typing.

We are not whiny buggy whip holders, we are the people that work in real organisations, where the needs are more complex than Facebook access and where legacy applications abound. When you futurists can come up with a decent device for doing complex work that is a realistic alternative to the PC then you can criticise those of us who actually know something. Until then get the fuck off my lawn.

Re:Requires generational change (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#40581915)

but PCs are going nowhere in the office where you need a large screen or two to efficiently do your job and a decent keyboard to do accurate typing.

Haven't been paying close attention in some offices these days, have you. Those thiny little boxes attached to the backs of monitors, or off to the side? Thin clients, not PC's.

Re:Requires generational change (1)

Dins (2538550) | about 2 years ago | (#40581847)

I think the problem is a lot of us don't see how we're going to get there from here, and it makes us nervous when people threaten to take away our ability to work as efficiently as we do now with desktop PCs. I'm nervous too, but things are evolving. I have to trust that some new solution will eventually arrive that while maybe making desktop PCs obsolete, will not lower my productivity or user experience. But I'm going to need a big screen, a keyboard and a mouse. Give me those and I don't care what's crunching the numbers in the background.

Re:Requires generational change (4, Insightful)

Turboglh (816701) | about 2 years ago | (#40581865)

It's not about resistance to change, it's about need. I've got a much more capable device sitting in my computer room than I do in my pocket or on my nightstand. Why utilize an inferior piece of hardware when a twenty second walk will put me in front of my pc. I think it's more about convenience of use. We've got two smart phones, a touchpad and a kindle in the house. For casual forum reading, the phones or the tablet will suffice, For even something as simple as searching for information on a new topic, I much prefer he utility of a keyboard, mouse and multiple screens. People of future generations will utilize the best tools available to them, including dedicated pc's if available.

apple tards a hoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581751)

only a retard makes a post like this
only the king of retards believes it

new tv show for apple tards
game of tards

Some people do need an actual computer (4, Insightful)

Analog Penguin (550933) | about 2 years ago | (#40581757)

Whenever I see people saying this, I wonder how many people actually use their computer to do real work.

I work as a recording engineer. You can buy non-PC devices to do the actual recording if you want, but even in that case mixing and post-processing really does require a computer with vast amounts of local CPU power and storage, in addition to some highly specialised equipment (such as external audio interfaces that connect via Firewire or even PCI cards). You can't record ten simultaneous tracks of uncompressed 24-bit, 48 khz audio to the cloud. I'm sure the same is true of many other fields like video and graphics production, software development, and scientific number crunching.

Sure, grandma probably doesn't need a full-blown PC to look at emailed pictures of her family, and maybe the "post-PC" era will benefit her. But I do worry what will happen to the PC world if major manufacturers keep taking their focus away from people who really do require serious equipment. (Hello, Apple, selling 2010 Mac Pros for 2014 prices, with an operating system that's leading the charge towards turning your desktop computer into an iPad!)

Re:Some people do need an actual computer (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#40581939)

You, are a niche market. Sure they can make money off of you, but you are a niche and without the commodotization of PC's due to selling them to to the mass market and who would have been better served with something like an improved webtv device, or soupled up game console....your hardware will cost more.

You'll still be able to buy your traditional PC....from speciality manufactures that will charge you a price premium.

Not going to happen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581783)

You cannot put a 300W+ GPU in a smart-phone.

Re:Not going to happen (0)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#40581963)

No, but look what a PS Vita can do. Most users don't need a 300W GPU in a phone because they don't play games that would need one. Not everybody plays the "Manly Brown Personal Computer Shooter of the Week"

Looking at things wrong (2)

n30na (1525807) | about 2 years ago | (#40581789)

I can't help but think that most people are looking at this the wrong way. I definitely think that the classic pc form factor will be around for a while yet, though it will likely become more niche with time. There are jobs that will need the raw computing power of the desktop for some time yet, there is no doubt there. But I definitely think that over time form factors will get smaller, and eventually, surely within the next 20-50 years, you will generally have enough computing power to do whatever is needed in a device that sits in your pocket. Will all desktop-style input and output devices go away? probably not, at least not the keyboard. Though it may change drastically.

It seems likely that monitors will be superseded in large part by high-resolution ar glasses, once they become practical. Why have a physical monitor when you can have as many virtual ones floating in front of you? I think that they may persist for design if color accuracy and etc in glasses lags, but past that there seems little reason for them to.

I think all of this will take a bit longer than people think, but it is a definite eventuality. I just don't think we'll be going all-mobile with today's technology just yet.

Re:Looking at things wrong (1)

n30na (1525807) | about 2 years ago | (#40581801)

It also occurs to me that it is quite possible for some form of neural input could potentially supersede the keyboard within this timeframe, though it would still likely be comparatively primitive.

Replace, or augment? (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#40581795)

The problem with such predictions is that they rely on the smartphone being a full replacement for a PC. And that's just not the case.

There's the obvious problems - typing large amounts of text, or doing things that require more processing power than a smartphone will have in the foreseeable future. These have been covered to death already; I won't bother reiterating them.

But then there's the lesser obstacles. Let me bring in some anecdotal evidence. I was feeling nostalgic, and wanted to play some of my old Game Boy Color games. I figured I should do so on my phone, rather than try to drag yet another bulky piece of electronics around. Finding an emulator was easy enough (finding one that didn't display ads was tougher, but doable). And I easily found a ROM file (just in case you're spying on me, MAFIAA, yes, I still have those games on cartridge, so bugger off).

But, every time I tried to download it, it prompted me for what program to open it in. And it only listed the ones that had registered themselves as being able to open .ZIP filesl the emulator was not among them. There was no option for "save the file locally, I'll handle opening it". None at all.

So in order to actually get it to work, I had to hook it up to my computer and copy the file over. Such a simple task, but it couldn't do it.

There are many other times I've tried to do something on my phone, but been unable to without using a PC. Here's a big one - development. You can code for Linux, on Linux. You can code for Windows, on Windows. I've even coded for freaking TI calculators, *on* the calculator. But you can't code for Android on an Android device, nor can you code for iPhone on an iPhone.

The running theme of it seems to be that smartphones and tablets are designed as consumers of data, not producers. But, given how essential producing data is to modern society, that means they will never replace the PC until that fundamental design concept is thrown out. Sure, for some, even many, uses, they're adequate, or at least capable of doing the task (if slower and more awkwardly). But so many common things remain impossible.

The more paranoid among you are probably preparing a rant about how this is $BIG_EVIL_CONGLOMERATE's wet dream, and something something 1984 something something DRM something from my cold dead hands. But that's not the case. Even *if* you posit a dystopian future where the $BEC controls everything, there will *still* be PCs, because *someone* will still have to produce data. They may become much less common, but a PC, or a PC-functional device, *will* be necessary.

Now, it could be possible that smartphones will change to have this type of functionality, and would be able, in theory, to replace PCs. But *that* seems unlikely, because the form factor itself, as well as limitations of technology, makes them very poor PC replacements.

[1] Note that, throughout, I use the term "PC" for "workstation, desktop or notebook". OS does not matter - your Mac is a PC; your Linux desktop is a PC; even that one guy still running CP/M is using a PC.

Re:Replace, or augment? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#40581999)

But, every time I tried to download it, it prompted me for what program to open it in. And it only listed the ones that had registered themselves as being able to open .ZIP filesl the emulator was not among them. There was no option for "save the file locally, I'll handle opening it". None at all.

So in order to actually get it to work, I had to hook it up to my computer and copy the file over. Such a simple task, but it couldn't do it.

Maybe you should blame the ROM hosting site for putting dinky little GB/NES/SNES ROMs in a ZIP file instead of letting you just download the ROM directly, ZIPless, or at least give you the optoin to do so. There are devices with web browsers, that don't do ZIP.

Re:Replace, or augment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40582049)

You can, in fact, code for Android devices on Android devices: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aide.ui&hl=en

Notebooks, maybe, but... (5, Insightful)

barlevg (2111272) | about 2 years ago | (#40581807)

What’s keeping us using desktops and even notebook, then, are corporate buying policies, hardware replacement cycles, and inertia.

While I actually agree with the assertion that laptops are on the way out, I don't ever see a day I *won't* want to have my own dedicated box. And what's going to keep me buying (or, rather, building) desktop computers is customizability and control. I don't want Google, Amazon, HTC, Apple or anyone else telling me what my computer should be. I don't want an internet outage to prevent me from using my machine, I don't want to be told what software I can or cannot install on my machine, and I don't want to be a slave to a company's repair center whenever I need to do a simple replacement. It's in the name: Personal Computer.

I'm not saying that thin clients don't have their place, and I don't doubt that their popularity will rise, but I don't think the PC is going anywhere.

"Trucks and cars" (4, Insightful)

RetiredMidn (441788) | about 2 years ago | (#40581809)

Steve Jobs used the analogy of trucks and cars; some of us need trucks for heavy lifting and special tasks, but most of us don't. The PC running Solitaire on a receptionist's desk will probably go away; the engineer's workstation will not.

People here are part of the exception. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581817)

Come on guy's, this is happening all over the place, my parents do 90% of their computer stuff on a tablet and when I am not at work as a storage guy I use my ipad for almost all my stuff together with a synology nas.
I see almost all my none tech friends moving to tablets after the move drom the desktop to the laptop, an ipad or android tablet can be found in most my my friends livingroom and it seems to be the perfect device for almost all tasks.

I have a 4 year old pc that will do all the video editing i can't do on on my tablet but what other tasks would I need a pc for, i can't think of any.

What about real work? (1)

Dasuraga (1147871) | about 2 years ago | (#40581883)

While web browsing and all that jazz might be relegated to phones and whatnot, even simple things like word processing (things "real people" do) become frustrating without a decent amount of screen real estate and stable input methods. While something like Surface answers (barely) this, it's really "just" a laptop with a flexible keyboard and a touchscreen. Even the most technologically inept person realises that a keyboard is pretty useful for fast typing. I use "the cloud" all the time for personal things, but there have been a few times ( my wifi decides to stop working or my ISP decides to stop working or Dropbox decides to stop working) where I've welcomed my local fallback. Imagining that we're going towards a no-storage future ignores the problems our current infrastructure has.

still premature (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40581911)

In my tech support job, I still deal on a daily basis with people for whom the personal computer is a hateful thing they want to have nothing to do with. This technology is not yet fully integrated into our society.

They ARE PC's (1)

haggus71 (1051238) | about 2 years ago | (#40581927)

Calling for the end of the PC forgets the definition of a personal computer. I'd say that, far from being the end, Smart phones and tablets are more the "personal" part of the PC than a Desktop. Besides, until you can have the graphics and cooling that a PC has, handhelds will never meet the gaming or graphics design requirements of PC's. The traditional desktop is becoming a niche type of PC, not disappearing.

I would argue, however, that the laptop IS threatened. Wedged between the portability of a smartphone and the expandability and durability of a desktop, the laptop, even in ultra form, is fast becoming obsolete. If others go the way of Apple, and do away with the ability to even fix them or expand them, in five years laptops may go the way of netbooks.

It's all about the UI, at this point. (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#40581937)

Yes, small mobile devices have as much, or more, compute power (including display processing) as PC's of a few years ago. And yes, solid state storage is cheap enough to make a mobile device a practical platform for most uses, but for one thing - the user interface. Just try to get real work done on a tablet. Sure, if you're "work" is a single task, with a UI that is suited to small displays, and if your input doesn't involve much typing at all, that will work. But if you run multiple apps at once, and have to actually type any significant number of characters like say, a paragraph on a /. post, tiny touch screens suck, hard. So Cringe has it right, partly. I'm willing to allow that "the PC" will look quite different in 10 or 15 years. I expect that it will involve a wearable heads-up display of some type. If we don't get that, the screens on my desk will still be there.

Can't believe the lack of faith here. (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | about 2 years ago | (#40581955)

All these arguments here over input devices and 3D capable workstations and "powerful" processors vs. "weak" tablets and smartphones. Give me a break.

We're talking about the FUTURE here. Rewind 10 years and tell me you EVER thought you would be sitting around with 3 terabytes and 32GB of RAM inside your "personal" computer at home for less than $1000. Now go ahead and TRY and predict what kind of computing power we're going to be literally holding in the palm of our hands in another 10 years as you complain about 3D capability and resolution (ironically while you hold your 2048 x 1536 iPad in your hand) .

As far as keyboards go, we're only beginning to see what interfaces like Siri can do. Yes, I love my keyboard and can type with speed. But it is still no match for my voice, and I would much rather use THE most efficient method of input. The average person can speak MUCH faster than they can type (250 - 300WPM), and as long as that statistic rings true (along with increasing levels of car accidents due to texting instead of looking at the damn road), we WILL have many reasons to move away from a box of keys.

Sorry, but considering what computing power has done in the last 10 - 20 years, I've given up on trying to predict the wonders of tomorrow, but I'm sure not going to simply dismiss them based on archaic mentality.

Re:Can't believe the lack of faith here. (1)

jeff4747 (256583) | about 2 years ago | (#40582041)

First, where you fail with the "horsepower" argument is tablets and other devices are lagging PCs. While a tablet may catch up to current PCs in a few years, PCs will have moved on to be even more powerful.

Second, I really want to watch you try to write some C++ or Java using Siri. Or even a complex email where you change your mind about the exact wording several times.

The fact that I can use Siri for a quick text or email doesn't mean it's the best input for all situations.

Re:Can't believe the lack of faith here. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40582055)

"We're talking about the FUTURE here. Rewind 10 years and tell me you EVER thought you would be sitting around with 3 terabytes and 32GB of RAM inside your "personal" computer at home"

I still have that Mac tower that has 32 gig of ram in it that was new in 2002. It only has 1 TB in it for storage but it was the only choice for Huge ram back them, no Intel based computer could do over 16 gig of ram. and yes I needed it. I was editing HD video back them. And yes it was my personal computer, and no I was not stupid enough to buy he ram from apple. (Yes there was a trick to get 4gig sticks in there and have the system recognize and use it. I used 16 gig of the ram as a insanely fast ram-disk for rendering.)

PC is dead it just does not know it yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581975)

we would like to think that everyone uses the pc/mac the way we geeks and nerds do ... but they don't! probably because they don't know how.. ;-P

in my podcast this week we talk about how the surface cold change the IT world if Microsoft does not screw it up!

but the real question that the Podcast tries to evoke is ... How long before all computing is done from your phone... to a monitor and BT keyboard?

is that not the real ask of the computing gods

I watched lame computing hobble a university (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40581985)

About four years ago, I built a nifty little system for under a thousand bucks, overclocked it to 3.6 gigs, put a $200 graphics card in it, and discovered that it was the fastest computer (that someone could actually use) on one of the more prestigious college campuses in the nation. Faster than any computer an employee could regularly use, and more alarming, faster than any computer any student built in that time (apparently rich kids don't build their own).

The university in question has subsequently skipped every replacement cycle since then, and at least two cycles before that. They're pushing cloud computing, tablets and smartphones on the employees (because employees have to pay for those last two themselves). The higher-ups of course violated their own policy, but they all bought laptops--so they're still slower than I was.

The university's rankings are dropping like a stone and it will soon be out of the top 25 in part because US News creates its rankings based upon student access to powerful computing. The cloud computing scheme doesn't work and never will because the U's thin clients and shitty Dell integrated graphics on their shitty Pentium IV computers do not have the bandwidth to display a remotely-generated screen at 30 fps.

In four years, the campus notices posted on billboards by students have gone from elaborate photoshops to phone-generated text printouts in Arial and Times New Roman. Most of the IT department trundles around campus all day long on shitty Gem EVs (purchased "because they looked cool") that are broken six months out of every year, spending most of each day repairing Dell computers that weren't worth a damn new but which are now irreplaceable to my shitty former University.

And I'm right there with them in computing hell, because I killed my rig--which would STILL be the best computer that place ever had.

Post PC for the sheep only.... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40582009)

Many of us, specifically the ones that create or are techies, will have a "PC" always. the Post PC era is for the appliance operators, the ones that treat the PC as a toaster, and it's about time this happened. I have always said that a computer is NOT what most people need, they need something that is like a game machine. Fixed OS they cant write to, and software as read only. Give them a space they can write to for storage and call it done. An Xbox360 or PS3 kind of device that is a home computer.

Luckily it's coming to pass. and all people that have done IT support in their life will rejoice.

And when will the post-bullshit era come? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40582021)

...where retards don't post bullshit like this as "news" and "fact", when in reality,
there are two use cases: Consumertards who just consume,
and people who actually use computers as computers. You know: To 1. *automate* 2. *your work* away. (Hint: They all use Linux, because OS X and Windows, being consumer/toy/gadget operating systems, lack the capabilities for that. [They also don’t use any "desktop environment" for the actual computer using part.])

Seriously... *facepalm*

Screen size proportional to content creation (0, Redundant)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#40582043)

The key is that the screen size is largely proportional to the amount and type of content being consumed or created.

Small screens are great for basic consumption of small games, music, messages, phone calls; but they are terrible for say editing a word doc, or editing a video. Larger, say iPad screens are great for more complicated consumption like movies or more complicated games. They are also good for basic data entry like say simple form entry; they are still terrible for any content creation beyond a very short document. A laptop is good for some programming, accounting, and a sweet spot for typing documents (probably as they are nearly the same size as a typewriter.) Gaming is better on laptops but still not that great. Keep in mind that gaming in a weird way is content creation as your inputs are as important as what happens on screen. Think of how many "key strokes" in a common game.

The single monitor PC is better for programming, video editing, accounting, and gaming. But it is when you get to the multi monitor setup that content creation is king. There is nothing better when programming, video editing, even editing.

Post-PC is a terrible term, what has been terrible is having Joe-surfs-alot using powerhouse of a machine to watch people puking on each other on YouTube. He should have had an iPad. The professionals will use PCs and the mass-consumers will use more locked in devices.

This also circles around to how the OS will be configured. For joe-surfs-alot the device is best locked up tight as any flexibility will result in misconfigurations and breakage. But a programmer or business user has to be able to tailor the machine to the exact configuration needed for maximum efficiency. As a programmer I have my machine set up in ways that would just be annoying and stupid for most of my non-programming family. The terminal in my dock would be the smallest example of this.

The simple question is what device will be used to create iPad applications? Or the iPad OS?

I have an idea (4, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40582057)

Make him type that article on a tablet and see if he still thinks that. I'm getting REALLY sick of this bullshit.
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