The current trend in the personal computing industry shows that user preference for mobile devices is rising, while demand for full-sized PCs are going down. Projections show that the smartphones and tablets will eventually overtake desktops and laptops in a few years’ time. What do the numbers spell for the future of the modern personal computer? Are the mobile platforms of today becoming more powerful than their non-mobile counterparts? And most importantly, is mobile devices positioning itself to replace the PC?
One of the most essential selling points of the mobile platform is its social networking features. In a cross device user study by ShareThis, data gathered shows that smartphones and tablets are twice as social as desktop or laptop PCs. This means that users are twice as more likely to access social networks through their mobile devices than on their computers. The same study also indicates that iPhone users in general are three times more likely to share content using their handsets than using their desktops. The portability of mobile makes it a better platform for the always-online, on-the-go nature of social media, and these numbers show the clear choice of users.
Power of mobile Internet
Developments and advancements in data access technology are also vital in the rise of the mobile platform in recent years. While wired connectivity standards have remained pretty much the same, wireless technologies have continued to improve. From the decent speeds of 3G, mobile data access has evolved to 4G, which runs from the low hundred-megabit to theoretical gigabit speed limits. This is enough to stand toe-to-toe with the most robust cable and fiber optic broadband technologies available to consumers. And mobile devices are following suit – handsets such as the Galaxy S4 and the iPhone 5 on O2 and other mobile networks are all capable of high-speed 4G-LTE access.
Even with 3G, mobile data usage has already boomed in the previous years. A web hosting firm 34SP report has shown that global mobile Internet traffic has increased eightfold from 2010 to 2011. Given this trend, numbers are showing that by 2015, mobile Internet usage will have overtaken the desktop. Consequently, desktop and laptop sales have dropped from 80 to 75 million between those two years. Google even projects that by this year, more people will go online using their mobile phones than their full-sized PCs.
Almost as powerful
People in general are under the impression that the mobile hardware platform is becoming as powerful as the modern personal computer. While it may look true, it is a far cry from reality. There is a reason why full desktop platforms are the machines of choice for professional jobs like graphic designing and computer engineering. And there is a reason why they are used for high-performance applications like gaming and multimedia. Graphics processing technology alone defines the wide line between a mobile device and a desktop. Even between the latter and a laptop, the difference in graphics processing power is immensely huge. Key PC components are also evolving at a similar rate as mobile phones themselves – some applications require a hardware upgrade, albeit not as often as mobile devices.
Complementing one another
It is interesting to note that the mobile platform, in its continuous process of improvement, is actually strengthening its dependence on its desktop counterpart. Take for instance, Apple’s upcoming iOS 7 – one of its key security improvements requires a PC running iTunes to “pair” an iPhone or iPad. There are also mobile apps that incorporate desktop-centric features such as network storage. Apps such as quik.io and Dropbox, while popular on mobile devices, utilize the massive network storage capabilities of the PC platform. Rather than overtake each other, both are working together to maximize each other’s potentials.
To each its own
The shift to mobile computing is, in a nutshell, not a detriment to the future existence of the modern personal computer. Devices are created for a reason, and while mobile devices are pretty much the preferred Internet medium, the PC is there for a more general purpose. Internet access is only one of the many uses of desktop and laptop computers, compared to considerably the most integral function of smartphones and tablets. It is also an interesting fact to remember that development for apps, the actual lifeblood of the mobile platform, is done on more powerful full-sized machines.
Do you think the mobile platform will eventually reach the modern personal computer’s power and versatility in the next few years? Leave us your thoughts about this discussion.