It’s not often that an article about the death of desktop computers is began with a comparison to sport; in fact the machines are usually labelled as the reason children are getting chunky and avoiding sport, but we think it resonates.
The comparison is to that of an aging soccer player. Yes, there may be youngsters bursting onto the scene with fresh legs and more in tune with the modern game. But they’ve been a steady servant to their club; they have the experience and can be trusted. They’ve adapted into a new, limited role to compliment the modern day. Of course when they retire they’ll get a good send-off too. But as they always say, there’s life in the old dog yet.
And when it comes to the old dog desktop computers, they may have been taken over by laptops, and later the smartphone and tablet, but there’s still life yet, or at least we think.
There’s a lot of talk about us seeing the death of the desktop over the years but yet they’ve clung on. In fact this is currently being typed using one – maybe it’s even being read on one too.
Of course it’s no surprise this talk is happening. After all, we are in a mobile revolution. In fact there are an estimated 1.75billion smartphone users across the world, not to mention the growing number of tablet users, all checking emails, forwarding documents, and generally running their lives. The truth is that we rely on them hugely.
It appears apps are more helpful than the simple desktop today, with its browser and Microsoft Word. Can a desktop PC help treat Tourette’s or save a child’s life? A smartphone can. And has.
In Washington, a man saved a baby’s life thanks to Pulse Point, an app which notifies CPR-trained citizens of an emergency that requires their assistance. In this case it notified an auto mechanic who was just around the corner from a one-month old child who was in urgent need of care.
The man was then able to resuscitate the child and save their life.
It’s just one example of how the smartphone has changed our lives as the new, young technology has created the modern world.
And when it comes to entertainment, the smartphone is even leapfrogging the desktop.
PC gaming has long been a huge industry with the most hardcore of gamers using desktop as their main method of play. Nvidia GeForce graphics cards on PCs have been the Holy Grail for gamers, and to this day still have a loyal following. In some cases, experts are even saying it couldn’t be in a better place.
Jake Solomon, the creative director of the new, exclusive to PC game, XCOM 2, told PC Gamer magazine, “PC gaming is in a golden age.
“It’s the tip of the spear in terms of innovation, in types of gameplay being explored, in relationships between developers and their audience, and for Firaxis [the developers], it’s our home. It’s where we want to be.”
However, with smartphone gaming so accessible – and let’s face it, a lot cheaper too – is there not a danger it could take over?
Graphically, they are getting closer and closer to the graphics we see on PC or console with the likes of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, which made their names on consoles before making their way onto mobile devices. And then there’s the ability to play them whenever, wherever – which is ideal, particularly when there’s a chance you could become a millionaire.
When it comes to online poker, both desktop and mobile are huge. The ability to play on mobile has transformed the industry and the ability to play in the palm of your hand rather than having to load up a PC and sit all evening, and it has meant more players are taking up the method. It’s quick, it’s easy, and for a player who goes by “bladsonpoker”, he won $1million in a matter of minutes playing PokerStars mobile.
It would take a matter of minutes to even switch on a desktop. In a fast food world that’s quick. He could have become a millionaire whilst waiting for the bus. Whilst walking to the shop. Perhaps even whilst on the toilet. We aren’t suggesting bladsonpoker did any of those, but after seven minutes and 18 seconds, he had become the brand’s newest millionaire.
For gaming in particular, the rise of mobile technology really is a game changer, and hardcore gamers aside, it will certainly be turning our heads away from a large screen and onto a small mobile one.
And due to the large rise in smartphones worldwide, in Africa alone by 2017 there will be 334 million smartphone users on the continent.
However, like the aging soccer player, the desktop PC still has much to give. Can you create spreadsheets on your iPhone? Or craft out 1,000 word pieces of excellent content about the death of desktop on a Samsung Galaxy?
Probably not. Although you would be able to add some wonderful emojis. The point is, the desktop still has its need, and in fact is relied upon more than any smartphone when it comes to business. That’s why developers are trying to create new desktop computers which are simplified and would benefit the developing world.
Which is vital when it comes to work. We’re still using desktops just as much as we were before, but with our increase in smartphone usage, it has been a little diluted. Last year in the US, the time spent on a desktop was 466 billion minutes compared to 477 billion minutes the year before. That hardly signals death.
Additionally, the decline in PC sales is actually slowing, and that could partly be due to not having to replace PCs as often.
But they are still an integral part of how we operate to this day. Walk into any head office, whether it be the biggest brand in the world or a small merchant in a local town, and there will be a desktop PC.
Their usage has just changed. Sure, we will rarely simply surf the web on a desktop, but for the spreadsheets that are put together, and the reports that are written up, it’s still very much at the forefront.
How long that will remain the case is a different story. The ageing soccer player will eventually retire after a few dedicated seasons to his club. The decline in desktop sales may be slowing but there is still a decline. And with technology increasing with mobile and tablets, the ability to create large, corporate documents and such like may become much easier.
That could see a much faster deterioration in PCs. And of course added to the ever-changing gaming industry, it could be game-over for PCs.
For now, it’s far from the end. There is still plenty to appreciate from our bulky desktop friends. They’re still offering us a valuable service, and let’s face it; we’ll miss them when they’re gone.
It’s inevitable that there will be a final hurrah for the device, just as we’ve said goodbye to the Nokia 3210 or the fax machine. Things change, and usually for the better.