Feb 10, 2012

What are the chances that the cloud will kill off the PC?

More and more of the applications that I use are "in the cloud". As SaaS becomes more and more ubiquitious, there seems to be less and less need for a powerful desktop PC. Of course, there are still some things out there that do require significant on-site computing power, but this seems less and less common. Is the PC as we know and love it a zombie that hasn't yet fully come to terms with its demise?

Some things work better in the cloud, and some work better locally. I don't think we'll ever see a time when the cloud will kill off the PC. I prefer to think of them as complimentary to each other. Use what works best for you.

My guess is that most people will prefer having such a choice rather than being totally dependent on the cloud for everything. What happens when you are cut off from it? Chances are you'd want to have some options locally.
It's more likely to change the PC market than kill it off, I'd say. Smartphone sales recently exceeded PC sales for the first time, in great part because many of the things we have traditionally use PCs for require relatively little in terms of hardware. Texting, email, document review (and to some degree creation), audio/video playback, even video conferencing to some degree...all of these things can be done on an entry level android device. Some things such as word processing work much better with a traditional keyboard, but still places modest demand on hardware, so a workstation can do pretty much what a traditional PC can there as well. I agree that a reason for the PC to see continued life is that some users demand the security/privacy that means keeping data behind their own firewall, especially when outside of an office environment. I see the PC's future splitting into laptops (for remote use when computing power is required) and workstations, where the hardware demands are modest. Evolution, not extinction is my guess for the PCs future.

People have been saying that networks and distributed computing will kill off the local computer for what, at least 15 years?


No matter how accessible SAAS and cloud computing becomes, people will always require some way to work off-line for various reasons.


There are also those who worry about privacy; no matter how secure remote storage is set up, it can always be cracked by somebody, but they cannot access your local drive offline without physical access to it.


In short, the PC as we know it is far from a Zombie, it's more like a Special Agent that leverages the Cloud but can operate solo for convenience and security.

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