Debates rage on in the home computing space between the lovers of Mac vs. PC, iOS vs. Android, Blackberry vs. Windows Phone. With all the arguments at play, there is one thing everyone seems to agree on: The face of computing is constantly changing, and will never be the same. And the biggest change of late is that the era of the desktop dinosaurs and laptop clamshells are all but over in the home computing world.
This idea is starting to bleed over into some areas of the corporate world as well. In standard office environments the traditional laptops are being replaced by tablets and oversized smart phones that can support many of the same tasks. It doesn’t take a laptop bag, a power cord, and the laptop itself to send an email… that can be done on a smart phone (often in less time).
But before you count the laptop out, though, not all work is centered around reading articles and sending emails. There are some jobs that require more durability and computing power than your Galaxy can handle. For this reason, the future of the laptop/PC will likely show a migration of these machines back into the industrial world they started in.
It is not my intention to denigrate anyone’s work as anything less than real. However, in the world of computers, some work is more “real” than others. The military, for example, is an institution that needs real computers for real work. Their computational requirements are far beyond the capabilities of your average smart phone or tablet.
Not only does the equipment have to be extremely powerful, it also has to be ruggedly built to survive use in unfriendly and industrial environments. These industry known industrial rugged computers and laptops are not ordered from Amazon, or picked up off the shelf of your local Best Buy. They are made to spec by companies that specialize in the construction of such equipment and have experience in creating computing systems and hardware that can deal with the needs of the military and industrial complex. In addition to laptops these companies also build portable multi-monitor systems and protective cases for other industries. Where real work is done, real computers are needed.
People who work hard also like to play hard and there is no one who plays harder than the “hardcore gamer.” Make no mistake about it: to these gaming enthusiasts, play is serious business. I’m not talking about the people who play one of the dozens of iterations of Angry Birds. I’m talking about the gamers who require the kind of gaming experiences that would make your A7 powered tablet weep tears of impotence. People with specially designed gaming laptops that run hotter and heavier than your desktop tower do not use words like “Post PC”. For them, a $4,000 hardware budget is what they call a good start.
These fanatics of frag may not drive the tech industry as they once did but they are still worth billions of dollars to PC and gaming companies large and small. They are not going anywhere anytime soon. No matter how many pixels your tablet can push, it will be a long time before it can push as many and as fast as a dedicated, traditional gaming PC.
Finally, there is a whole creative industry that will be using traditional PCs as long as there are traditional PCs. An iPad is never going to run powerful versions of Pro Tools, PhotoShop, or even Dream Weaver. It is a long way from being able to compile the code that produces the software that floods the App Store. The only creative people that might be able to make do with less are writers and sketchers. Even then, the tablet versions of those tools are somewhat lacking compared to what can be found in the traditional PC experience.
While the needs of industry should never be confused with the needs of consumers, make no mistake about it; industrial computing is here to stay.