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IBM: PCs are "Going The Way of Typewriters"

By - Source: IBM | B 118 comments

IBM's Mark Dean says that we've entered a Post-PC era. Microsoft's Frank Shaw disagrees, calling it a PC-Plus era.

Mark Dean, the chief technology officer of IBM Middle East and Africa, claims that PCs are "going the way of typewriters." You remember those things, right? They used to sit on desktops and allowed users to type letters directly onto a piece of paper via an ink ribbon without the need for an LCD screen or power outlet? They're now considered "dinosaurs" and "antiques," and apparently PCs are heading in that direction.

In a blog published on Wednesday, Dean reminisces back on the day when IBM first introduced the IBM 5150 personal computer in New York which celebrates its 30th anniversary tomorrow, August 12. "Little did we expect to create an industry that ultimately peaked at more than 300 million unit sales per year," he said. "I’m proud that I was one of a dozen IBM engineers who designed the first machine and was fortunate to have lead subsequent IBM PC designs through the 1980s.  It may be odd for me to say this, but I’m also proud IBM decided to leave the personal computer business in 2005, selling our PC division to Lenovo."

Dean admitted that, like IBM, he too has moved beyond the PC and is currently using an unspecified tablet as his primary computer. "When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs."

You forgot 8-track tapes and cassettes, Mr. Dean.

PCs aren't necessarily being replaced by smartphones and tablets, he claims. Instead, they're being replaced by new ideas about the role computing can play in the progress. He said that the height of innovation takes place within the social realm connecting devices – the space where people and ideas come together and interact – and not on the devices themselves. It's within this very "cloud" of innovation that "computing can have the most powerful impact on economy, society and people's lives."

Frank X. Shaw, Microsoft's corporate vice president of corporate communications, doesn't see the PC sitting beside old 8-track tapes and vacuum tubes. In fact, he believes that we're not entering a post-PC era: we're entering a PC-plus era.

"People sometimes ask me about what Microsoft thinks about the post-PC era," he said Wednesday. "It’s fairly straightforward. We continue to build great software, and our software’s value is expressed in the consumer and enterprise devices and services we deliver to our customers."

He used Windows PCs, the Windows Phone platform and the Xbox 360 console as three examples of the continued evolution of the PC. "In some cases we build our own hardware (Xbox, Kinect), while in most other cases we work with hardware partners on PCs, phones and other devices to ensure a great end-to-end experience that optimizes the combination of hardware and software," he added.

"Of course, the past doesn’t always predict the future, but let’s just say it offers some strong clues," he said. "As we look ahead to the next 30 years, we’ll continue to lead the industry forward in bringing technology to the next billion (or 2 billion or 6 billion) people on our planet. We’ll do that as we always have, by working with our partners to deliver amazing experiences to individuals and businesses."

"We have a unique point of view when it comes to this future of devices and services," he said.

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  • 42 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , August 12, 2011 3:12 AM
    I want a big screen with lots of display real estate so I can have several windows open for maximum productivity and in my free time I want to game (and I don't mean facebook games). So no, I don't think a tablet can replace that due to its fundamental physical properties, and agree this is a PC-plus era.
  • 35 Hide
    dogman_1234 , August 12, 2011 3:25 AM
    What a joke. Doesn't anyone know what PC stands for: Personal Computer? Isn't that what a smartphone/tablet/laptop/desktop is? Personal and a Computer? I laugh when people say PC is dying. I think they mean the 'DESKTOP' is dying. The big clunky things that are better than many other computational devices, except supercomputers?
  • 33 Hide
    philologos , August 12, 2011 3:09 AM
    Oh God, not again!!
Other Comments
  • 33 Hide
    philologos , August 12, 2011 3:09 AM
    Oh God, not again!!
  • 42 Hide
    Maximus_Delta , August 12, 2011 3:12 AM
    I want a big screen with lots of display real estate so I can have several windows open for maximum productivity and in my free time I want to game (and I don't mean facebook games). So no, I don't think a tablet can replace that due to its fundamental physical properties, and agree this is a PC-plus era.
  • 29 Hide
    davewolfgang , August 12, 2011 3:17 AM
    .../sigh...again????

    I go away for a few days, and come back to this...again?? :-p
  • 29 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:18 AM
    Then I guess I will be viewed as a "person who use a type writer" in the future.
  • 23 Hide
    Katzie , August 12, 2011 3:20 AM
    The only way a "PC" will become like the typewriter is when technology advances so much that the interface will change into something out of the movie "Minority Report" and the physical hardware fits into a phone like device (the power graphics/cpu/RAM/ect)
  • 22 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:20 AM
    Forgot to mention that my "type write" will always beat the "computer" in performance in the future.
  • 27 Hide
    bak0n , August 12, 2011 3:20 AM
    When they can stuff a raid 0 SSD's with 1TB of drive space, have a 20+ inch screen and 3 way crossfire into a tablet or cell phone, I'll kill my desktop.
  • 23 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:24 AM
    KatzieThe only way a "PC" will become like the typewriter is when technology advances so much that the interface will change into something out of the movie "Minority Report" and the physical hardware fits into a phone like device (the power graphics/cpu/RAM/ect)

    But the problem is no matter how much miniaturization the hardware had, a physically larger chassis allow more stuff go in there for more performance and given the computer don't get bulkier in the future, it still fits nicely for static use in office or home.
  • 35 Hide
    dogman_1234 , August 12, 2011 3:25 AM
    What a joke. Doesn't anyone know what PC stands for: Personal Computer? Isn't that what a smartphone/tablet/laptop/desktop is? Personal and a Computer? I laugh when people say PC is dying. I think they mean the 'DESKTOP' is dying. The big clunky things that are better than many other computational devices, except supercomputers?
  • 4 Hide
    Katzie , August 12, 2011 3:29 AM
    PyreeBut the problem is no matter how much miniaturization the hardware had, a physically larger chassis allow more stuff go in there for more performance and given the computer don't get bulkier in the future, it still fits nicely for static use in office or home.


    My point was generally explained by bak0n.
  • 17 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:29 AM
    @dogman_1234

    couldn't agree more especially "The big clunky things that are better than many other computational devices, except supercomputers?"
  • 14 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:32 AM
    KatzieMy point was generally explained by bak0n.

    But by then a desktop size pc will have the power of a super computer of today, not the power of a performance desktop found in the smaller form factor pc of the future.
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2011 3:34 AM
    Yeah, I think Mr. Dean has a disconnect from what's happening. The iPad and similar devices are content consumption devices, but that's all they are. Getting work done will continue to require a real computer for the foreseeable future, right up until the point computers write programs for us.
  • 22 Hide
    mortsmi7 , August 12, 2011 3:37 AM
    Summary of ten paragraphs: "I don't know what the future holds, but it'll likely contain PC's and combination of other portable devices in varying ratio's."

    Really....
  • -4 Hide
    kinggraves , August 12, 2011 3:42 AM
    Saying that the PC will eventually be replaced with a superior device sometime in the future is stating the obvious. Stating that tablets or any other similar devices are a leap forward in the same way that the PC was a leap forward from a typewriter is folly. We won't need to concern ourselves with any brilliant ideas anytime soon when the industry is full of talking heads like this and not thinking heads.

    The real problem with the computing industry is that they've hit a lot of physical/technological walls and they're trying to sell us on the concept that less is better. They stopped pushing the Ghz limit of single cores, they're currently hitting the limit on how many cores are needed when people will only run so many processes at once. Hard drive limits have stopped growing like they used to. Graphics needs will also hit limitations eventually, you only need so many pixels on screen and there's only so many tricks they can pull to smooth it. Smaller is where the industry wants to go because it's the only direction they have left.
  • 20 Hide
    therabiddeer , August 12, 2011 3:49 AM
    The only way the PC market will die is if the manufacturers kill it.
  • 18 Hide
    capt_taco , August 12, 2011 3:52 AM
    They're doing it wrong again. Desktops won't get killed by tablets. Laptops will get killed by tablets maybe. Not really, though. Just among people that don't need a computer for anything except iTunes and the internet and email. Pretty sick of hearing about this over and over as well.
  • 24 Hide
    Pyree , August 12, 2011 3:56 AM
    dioxholsteri dont know anyone who has a desktop anymore. unless you are a gamer or use it for certain work, its basically over.

    In contrary, I don't know anyone who want to use a tablet or phone from factor computer as their primary computing device.
  • 24 Hide
    jimslaid2 , August 12, 2011 4:02 AM
    And I thought the peeps at IBM were intelligent.
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