The Personal Computer model of the 80s and 90s is done.
In the early days of home computing, the personal computer was the choice for computing power from the home and office. The hardware required software to manage the operations of the computer and all of the software was installed locally to the device. Microsoft dominated these early days with the Windows and Office.
Through the 90s and 2000s we saw several advancements that started to change the world of the personal computer. The expansion of the internet to main stream life connected consumers to each other as well as consumers to businesses. The accessibility of broadband to the home made it possible for consumers to retrieve large amounts of information in the form of pictures, video, and rich text. Advances in hardware speed and the reduction of computing device sizes helped engineers to create portable devices so that consumers could access information from anywhere.
Now we live in a connected world where individuals and businesses can not only consume digital content but they can create it as well. Facebook, Twitter, and mobile applications are all examples of this.
Today, consumers can choose from tablets, mobile devices, and cloud computing hardware.
I’m not a big Apple fan, but I’ll admit the iPhone and iPad have revolutionized the computing model that consumers use today. It’s a good thing, the advancements in user interface, ease of use, and practicality of the apple devices are creating more competition and advancements that benefit all of us.
Mobile devices work because of their portability and this makes them flexible to serve to consumers from almost any location. They have really become the swiss army knife of computing devices. Except they go one step farther. You can add and remove many blades from the device (software apps) to make the tool relevant no matter which venue of life you find yourself.
The tablet devices are filling a void between mobile device and laptop computer. The mobile device screen is just too small for some needs, while even the laptop computer can be bulky at times to carry. I see the tablet device as a portable and powerful information consumption device. Their use is exploding because consumers love the ease-of-use and breadth of applications.
But the tablet may be a challenge to use for heavy content creators. The touch screen keyboard and limited hardware could decrease the efficiency for creating content. At least for now, until a generation grows-up using the touchscreen type keypads.
This past week, Google launched ChromeOS on a netbook frame to the general public. This event isn’t about netbooks, it’s about a computing model known as cloud computing. Google has created a device similar to a smart-phone in a way. It’s a stripped down OS that removes most of the hardware operating system responsibilities and focuses on giving access to internet based applications through a browser. That’s the computer. A browser with access to the internet. If you stop and think about it, many if not most, of the applications you use today are already from the internet. It wouldn’t surprise to me to see ChromeOS on a tablet frame sometime in the near future.
Regardless brand loyalties or preferences, consumers win with all this advancement.
Consumers have many choices today. Unlike the PC-only model of the 80s and 90s, they have the ability to choose between different device types (PC, laptop, netbook, tablet, mobile) as well as different models (Local installation, cloud computing, and mobile application). It’s really about how the consumer creates and/or uses content. Consumers will choose those devices that work consistently and makes their lives easier by solving needs.
What do you think? What type of device and experience do you prefer?