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Monday, January 10, 2011

Three Reasons Why The Desktop PC Market Will Not Fail

     (At least for now.)
     So, I'm hearing all sorts of ranting and raving about how the world of smart- phones is going to kill off the world of desktop PCs.  The more I read, though, the more I start to feel this whole business of desktops dieing is a little premature, if not downright wrong.
     And I have three reasons why:
     First off, horsepower.  No matter how powerful the chip manufactures make a mobile processor, the physical limitation of size will always make full PC's more powerful.  They will have large chips, which, combined with the same technology that makes the mobile chips faster and more capable, will make desktop PC's even greater themselves.  This kind of locks in the PC gamers to desktops.  Nothing else will be able to compete, and never will. (One side note; if the chip manufactures go so far as to restrict development to mobile chips, this would gum up this argument, but I don't see that happening.)
     Second problem, storage.  You can only store so much into a three inch by five inch rectangle.  And that space is larger than most cellphones.  Even if the whole area of the a smartphone could be devoted to the storage of information, with technology such as memristors, they would not be able to hold as much information as an equivalently sized hard drive.  And with the pack rat tendencies of human beings (hey, I'm one of the most guilty!), the need for massive amounts of storage will always require something akin to a home server.  (A combination of these elements, smartphone and home server, might actually be the perfect harmony.  Run all of your media through the home server, like a small personal cloud, and use the smart phone as the access interface.)
     And lastly, capabilities.  As a computer tech, I've seen a lot of people's home setups, and I've sold a lot of peripheral devices as well.  A smart phone, at least without a desktop-sized dock, would not have the ability to handle all of the extra stuff we all love to connect to our computers.  Printers, scanners, external storage, game controllers, MP3 players, and USB powered gag items, a smart phone just can't cut it when it comes to varied computing needs of the modern era.  This one also ties back into the storage and horsepower issues.  Not only will the form-factor limit the number of devices, but the power consumption of extra devices would limit the smartphone as well.  And storage space for drivers, even with their usually small memory foot print, would be non-existent, because it would be filled with the massive media files we all down load, and the apps we download for work and play on the go.
      And, as the bonus, upgrades.  One of the biggest limitation factors for me, and most of the uber-geek culture, is the in-ability to upgrade my current system when something better like a new graphics chip comes out.  This problem may not be a huge problem for most, but for the people constantly upgrading their hardware and keeping the manufactures paid, this would have the potential to bust the industry.  As much as the cellphone market seems volatile, and any new model of phone is obsolete in six months,  most people won't upgrade their computers more than once every five years.  I have begun to notice this trend seeping into the smartphone market, too.  How many people stuck with their iPhone 3GS when the iPhone 4 came out?  Its a situation I'm not sure the computer industry has thought of.
     So, in this posit of an article, I have to say I don't see things like the Motorola Mobility Atrix posing much of a threat to traditional desktop PCs.  The computing needs of consumers only get more demanding, and you can fit a lot more umph into a PC case into a phone.