The desktop computer is a dying beast. Sure we still have them, but in the near future, the desktop will be phased out. Here’s why.
1. Rapidly declining cost of laptops
Laptops are getting cheaper and cheaper. I’m not even talking about the OLPC program, but cost in general. The new ASUS EEE machine is going to cost very little for an internet-enabled machine. Flash memory is getting cheaper all the time, and is more stable in portable devices. With laptops getting so inexpensive, most people will begin to make their next home computer purchase a portable one.
2. Portable power
Portable devices such as laptops are getting more and more powerful every day. They are actually beginning to catch up to desktops in terms of raw power. Combined with the convenience of portability and having all your data in one place, wherever you are, whenever you want, then there’s really not much of a reason to buy a desktop.
One of the biggest reasons to buy a desktop in the past was gaming. High-requirement games come out all the time, requiring the latest and greatest machines to run them at peak efficiency. This is still true today, but with the gap between desktops and laptops closing quickly, pretty soon laptops like the Acer Ferrari and outrageously overpriced Alienware laptops won’t be the only powerhouses suitable for hardcore gaming.
3. Internet-enabled gadgets
PocketPCs, PDAs, Blackberries, iPhones, Smartphones, Internet tablets – these devices are here and they are here hard. Spreading through the world like a zombie infestation, it’s only a matter of time until everyone is infected. Sure there will be a lone group of survivors camped out on the roof of a nearby shopping complex, but eventually, they will fall. It is inevitable. One of the survivors will make a mistake and it will doom them all. Then there will be nothing left except a zombie wasteland with a surprisingly decent network.
More technology needs to be compared with zombie infestations. I am making my stand here.
4. Thin clients
Definitely NOT a new concept, thin clients have been around almost as long as computing has. Originally called terminals, thin clients are basically stripped down PCs that communicate with a server. Most of the time there is no harddrive at all, save for a small bit of flash memory for an OS. Sometimes this is also absent. Processing is mostly done on a server.
These are becoming more and more popular as well, since more and more data is being stored on the internet. With a thin client you can easily and affordable do most computing tasks in a company and access as much data as the server can handle. Wikipedia lists the advantages and disadvantages of thin clients, and they say it better than I ever could. Needless to say, there is a large list of pros and not many cons.
5. Free wifi
The abundance of free wifi everywhere is a strong argument for portable devices. Everywhere from cities and coffeeshops to airplanes and airports, you can access the internet from almost anywhere these days. Using PCAnywhere, or logmein, you can access another PC from anywhere in the world. While this may seem like an argument for desktop PCs, I beleive that it is more of a transitionary effect that will help us seque off of desktops entirely.