Are desktops dying?

by Thomas Brady


There’s been all kinds of talk lately about the death of the personal computer. I first heard this suggested in Steven Frank’s article “I need to talk to you about computers.”

The idea is pretty simple: desktop operating systems are starting to really show signs of age. Back when you had a few dozen or even a few hundred Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and naught else on your computer, the files/folders metaphor worked pretty well.

Now that you have several thousand of just about any kind of “file” on your computer, you need things like iTunes (or WinAmp) to find your music and iPhoto (or Picasa) to find your photos and resource-hungry search features (like Spotlight on Mac OS X or Google Desktop) features for the rest.

And if this touch revolution is going anywhere, we’re going to need OSs with UI schemes not so mouse-pointer specific.

But software is only half the story.

I’m not sure why it’s always hardware talk, not software, that leads quickest to terms like “profitability” and “bottom line,” but guess what? PC-makers not named “Apple” aren’t doing so hot.

And why is Apple doing well? It might have something to do with the fact that 58% of their profits are coming from iPhone sales. That’s just iPhone - not including iPods.

Now that HP/Palm deal starts to take a more definite shape. Yup, I can make out a boat… and a few thousand people in bizcas jumping from it… onto another boat… oh and the first one is kinda sinky.

And that’s why Microsoft is still trying with Windows Phone 7, even though they have never had a decent mobile OS for phones or for PDAs.

And that’s why Google made Android.

And that’s why HTML5 is so hyped - it promises to bridge the gap between what may soon be the old platform and the new. It will run on your desktop, your iPad, and your Nexus One.

Now, remember those Steve Jobs quotes:

“IF I WERE RUNNING APPLE, I WOULD MILK THE MACINTOSH FOR ALL IT’S WORTH — AND GET BUSY ON THE NEXT GREAT THING. THE PC WARS ARE OVER. DONE. MICROSOFT WON A LONG TIME AGO.
——
THIS IS MAC OS X. THIS IS OUR FOUNDATION FOR THE NEXT DECADE OF MACINTOSH OPERATING SYSTEMS.”
STEVE JOBS IN 1996, THEN IN 2000

Spooky. Perhaps in less time than we think we’ll be laughing at our old dinotops and laposaurs.