Here's a quick and fun read
Dallas Mavericks owner and blogger Mark Cuban says, that the desktop PC is boring and all the fun is on the portable side of the pc world.
Back in the day, it was all about the desktop PC. Starting with the Altair in the 70s and accelerating with the IBM PC in 1981, the desktop PC was the focus of personal computing innovation.
Used to be all the good stuff started as an add on for the PC and found its way on to the motherboard. It was an all too predictable obsolesence curve. Remember the AST 6 Pack, Hercules Graphics Cards, 3com Network Cards, US Robotics Modems? When you bought a PC, you used to have to buy all these cards to make it get where you wanted it to go. How many slots the PC had was actually an issue because any power or corporate user expected to add features via cards. There was even a time when it seemed like a good idea to try to upgrade the CPU.
So true...I still have the evidence in my basement to prove the truth of these words.
Not any more. Could the PC desktop be any more boring these days? Could it be any more emblematic of a mature product?
Sure, HP, Dell, IBM, Gateway are trying to liven it up. The hard drives are bigger and faster. THere is more memory. The graphics cards can do more. The industry tried to juice the PC by coming up with a faster, better express slot on the motherboard, but next to nobody is even using it!
About the only thing even resembling anything fun is coming from Modders. Typically gamers who are putting flames on funky case designs and bumping processor speeds. The PC desktop has gotten to the point where kids turbocharge the old family PC rather than throw it away like kids used to turbocharge the old car in the garage.
Cuban is a tad confusing here, but I think his ultimate conclusion is valid. Yeah, they keep rolling out various "more" features (as in more RAM, more processor speed more bus speed, more hard storage space, higher capacity video and audio cards, more usb ports, etc). But for most users, where's the edge in having a pc? Unless you're a gamer, you don't need "more." I know plenty of people who still have cases and motherboards that are five years or older. They get used as home file servers, or as an email machine for guests. If it starts running a little too slow, you just purchase a cheap stick of RAM, and ouila, you're cooking with grease again.
All the fun is happening with portable devices. Phones, Ipods, gaming consoles, PDAs, digital cameras, even hard drives and flash drives. All the good stuff is coming in small packages.
Remember the frustration of shopping for a PC in the 90s. Every couple months the PC would have something new and cool in it, and the price would drop. It was tough to know what to buy and whether you should do it now or wait.
That's exactly what is happening in the portable.mobile device market. My Ipod, My Sidekick, my hard drives,my PSP, my Xbox even my laptop all have overlapping features. Each is getting closer to each other in feature set every day.
Which means that the war for my pocket is on. Which is going to allow me to only fill one pocket rather than the 2, or 1 plus beltclip that I'm filling now.
It's a fun time for portable.mobile devices. It's the 80s and 90s for desktops all over again. Every time I go into CompUSA or Best Buy to see what new stuff is on the shelves that I can play with, every phone has a new feature. Every hard drive is smaller, cheaper, faster. Every PDA has new features and software.
The implications of this transition are huge. Particularly for the retail world. Right now most new technology is sold in big stores. Lots of room for monitors. Lots of room for desktops. But those are the stagnant products.
All the good stuff is small. All the traffic generators are small. Which means that we could see big changes in how retail stores are merchandised and in the size of future retail stores.
Here, Cuban hits on two important points - finite "wearable" space and function overlap. Users tend to only have so much space to carry neat gadgets around with them. And with the great degree of function overlap between portable devices, the question of what to bring with becomes even more potent.
And so ensues Cuban's "war for my pocket." Portable developers are still searching for the perfect mix of features which will make a device the singluar "must carry" item. Right now, the cell phone occupies that space for most people, but it has challengers. Users still perceive that there's a more pronounced edge to possessing portables than to fixed devices like the desktop, and themselves are true believers in the singular must carry device ideal.
And I think that's what's at issue. No one believes anymore that if you don't have the latest model desktop, you're being left behind either in the business and professional world or in personal life. People do believe the opposite with respect to portables. Not being able to take calls, check email, check next week's calendar, record and transmit rich media content while on the road is growing in its "deal size."
The desktop is increasingly irrelevant.