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The Future Of Personal Computers


Udayakumar Nalinasekaren
Dec 23, 2010

In an earlier post, we asked a question. "If cloud computing is about feeding computing capability to where you are, why do we still need personal computers to use cloud computing?". Sounds like double investment.. right?

Yes. It is true that we are in a transition phase to the new technology of cloud computing. There are devices available in the market today that allow us to use cloud services at a more affordable price point. We saw in a earlier post that cloud computing is a two way interactive process. So the new device should have a display surface and ways of sending input to the cloud software.

For example, take a cloud software like facebook. Most of the time, we scroll through home or profile pages, click on notifications and frequently write comments, status lines or notes using a web browser. If we have a device that can just run the web browser and provide the capability to interact with that browser, such a device will need much less computing power. This device does not need to store anything in it (except your login credentials). Facebook stores all our data in the cloud. The storage needed in the device is therefore very low.

Welcome to the world of pads. The Apple iPad is a great example. There are many more pads that are coming into the market after iPad's roaring success. The pad has a touch sensitive display surface and a virtual on-screen software keyboard which you can tap on. Instead of using a mouse, you just use your fingers directly on the screen to touch, tap, scroll, and zoom. The pad is designed to take advantage of the cloud. The pad is available at a lower price point than a laptop computer. With increasing demand and competition, the price point will only drop further. With reducing demand for the personal computers, they will become more expensive. Cloud software will be available at fractional price points relative to software that is required for personal computers. The model of building software that needs to be replicated on multiple personal computers for individual consumption will die and the personal computer will die along with it or morph into something else.

The world however has die hards who will continue to be wedded to obselete technologies. I still see people continuing to use VCRs, cassette tape recorders, and sometimes even valve radios. These devices have already qualified to be artifacts in a technology museum. The total cost of ownership of such an obselete device will keep increasing. Only the rich and the technically capable can afford to have personal computers in about 10 years from now.

Can cloud computing be fed to the user wirelessly? We will see...


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