Making the PC great again

Several years ago many major tech leaders declared that the PC was dead. It seemed that the art of connecting people to tethered screens had come to an end. I think what industry leaders actually meant was, that the age of good-enough computing was now here and that the normal selling cycles of people replacing their PCs every 12 or 24 months had come to an end – simply because whatever they were currently using was good enough.

There were also other new options such as tablets and smart phones. The PC now had fierce competition for screen time. These competitors made certain features not so PC-critical anymore – there was an app for everything.

Meanwhile, business computing sales in the enterprise space moved to leasing on three-to-five year cycles. This made PCs more of an accounting/tax anomaly then a tech issue. This is the reason why companies such as Lenovo, Dell and HP have not been as badly affected by the consumer decline for Windows-based PCs.

It isn’t that the PC is dead, it’s more that publically-listed multinational corporations need to keep reporting a specific amount of sales growth every quarter. This just doesn’t correspond with end users’ personal computing requirements. Why should the share price of a global company have anything to do with the user experience of someone? Well, there are many reasons actually.

Apple in the consumer space has been able to deliver consistent growth by simply having more than one traditional personal computing category; an iPhone, after all, is a pocket computer with additional features. Even now we are seeing a slowdown, because simply put, smartphones are mostly good enough and why should the end user have to upgrade to a newer one? The issue here is again more about corporate reporting than actual consumer demand or requirements.

Maybe our consumer-based society is starting to say that we just want to have “good enough” things to improve our lives. After all would you throw out your current thin-screen TV for one that is slightly thinner?

I believe the tech industry is facing a lot of issues at the moment but the one that everyone seems to be ignoring is, how do customers benefit? As one of the people in the tech industry who makes products to improve people’s lives, should we simply just be focusing on improving people’s lives or making products that have a longer life cycle that are better, not only because they are faster or prettier, but more sustainable and offer longer life?

We can make the PC great again but we need to make PCs that aren’t just for the purpose of selling more, not because they are faster or thinner but simply better in non-direct ways. This is what improves the end users’ ability to do whatever they want, better.

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