A half-billion personal computers populated homes and businesses across the globe just a decade ago, reports the NY Times. Now the once-revered PC may be lumped into the same category of extinction as the phone booth, cassette and typewriter.
Research firm IDC reports that PC shipments plummeted 14 percent since last year, a rate double their predicted decline. But IT research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. forecasts 665 million tablets in use by 2016.
As mobile devices and PCs cross paths toward two different trajectories, consumer demand suggests the dynamic nature of cloud computing’s online data backup is helping to seal the fate of the older technology.
The Limitations of PCs
PCs keep consumers and businesses anchored to old habits in more ways than one. Confined virtually and physically to one location’s online connections, PC mobility limits user access.
Sharing data requires additional layers of backup with local storage devices like flash drives and hard drives, which can be easily lost. If something happens to the physical computer or storage device, valuable data is equally at risk.
Personal computers may also show their age through less intuitive interfaces. Updates are not always automatic. Installations and application removals require multiple steps through command prompts.
PC-compatible software can become an added expense for users and businesses. Just one install of Microsoft Office can cost $140 or $110 per application. Multiply those costs for a business with multiple desktop computers and operation costs can spike.
Another factor holding the PC back is its inability to distinguish itself among mobile and cloud innovations. Windows 8 fell short for many PC lovers. The platform was chided for mimicking the touchscreen technology and interface of tablets while getting rid of the functionality that built the Microsoft empire.
The Advantages of Cloud Computing
The “cloud” may be a euphemism for the Internet, but developers are using it to leverage mobile device functionality to rival the standby PC. Smartphones, tablets, and even cloud-based creations like the Samsung Chromebook give users the ability to access documents or programs from their browser.
Mobile technology’s cloud computing means users don’t have to endure expensive software purchases or updates. They can access apps like Google Drive freely to share and update data with other users. Updates are automatic, occurring in real time.
This portability has made the consumer’s voice louder. With social media platforms on-the-go, consumers are empowered with decision and influence on the commercial market to create conversations about their likes.
While businesses may have been a refuge for PCs, their desire for flexible, cost-effective IT solutions has them following consumers to the cloud. Software as a service (SaaS) enables businesses to access applications via web browser.
Approximately 40 percent of customer relationship management (CRM) systems use SaaS to tap into consumer behavior to identify lead opportunities quickly and effectively, according to a report from Forbes.
McKinsey reports a staggering 80 percent of big businesses in North America are using or considering cloud computing. These companies see the potential of cloud computing for businesses and seek ways to mitigate potential IT risks to capitalize on the technology.
Cloud computing may not be without its unknown variables but when factoring in its mobility, business scalability, and functionality, the PC could become a mere stepping stone in technology’s evolution.
Dinosaur photo from Flickr user nerissa’s ring.