Some of you may looking at that title quite curiously from the comfort of an office chair, outstretched in front of a desktop computer with a large 19″ screen, wondering just what the hell, exactly, I’m talking about.
That’s okay, you’re just in the first stage of grief: denial. You still might be so familiar, so used to your trusted old desktop computer, with its screaming fans and whirring disk drive and all, that you simply cannot accept the thought of letting it go. The keyboard is worn in, the f-key sticks and the mouse doesn’t glide across the mousepad the same as it used to, but you still enjoy its company. Despite the fact that it’s an inanimate object, you would still miss if it ceased to exist tomorrow.
I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s probably on its way out. It might not be tomorrow, or the next day, or even a few years from now, but its death is inevitable. The desktop PC is going to die. In fact, in many ways, it’s already dead.
Just 2 years ago, the desktop PC registered its first decrease in sales since 2001. At that time, netbook PCs and laptops were in high demand, but Apple’s iPad had yet to be released.
Now, facing increasing competition from laptops and a tablet market that’s becoming more and more congested with offerings from the world’s largest technology brands, the desktop PC is seemingly at the beginning of its last days of life. And there are a few significant reasons why.
Lack of Mobility
I remember when I used to visit my friends house and LAN for hours at a time. It was a great time. But what wasn’t fun was having to disconnect my desktop PC entirely, transport it with my monitor, keyboard and mouse, and then set it up again at my friends house. It was tedious. Annoying, even. And I had to because, besides not LANing altogether, I had no other choice. But having a powerful desktop PC was important because it was the only way to truly enjoy gaming in any form, unless you had a powerful but typically extremely heavy gaming laptop. Convenient, mobile laptops were usually underpowered and simply useless when it came to graphically intensive games and applications.
No longer. These days, it’s easy and relatively affordable to find a laptop that’s capable of performing Photoshop and gaming at similar levels to that of desktop computers. Sure, desktops will undoubtedly (as long as they exist) be the speedier of the bunch, simply because they are much larger and capable of drawing substantially more power.
But still, nobody is going to haul a desktop computer across town and set up shop at a cafe. Laptops, for various jobs, are simply the only way to work without entirely hamstringing mobility. Even for graphics designers, they can often be an important way to finish design work on the go.
Desktops Limit Our Ability to Interact With Others
Desktops limit our mobility, true, but they also limit our capability to be in environments in which people might be interacting with one another. Coffee shops, libraries, public parks — all of these locations tend to be excellent places to simply strike up a conversation with a stranger, or maybe even meet a cute girl.
And in a world that’s becoming more and more connected by social media, being disconnected from that world for huge portions of a day seems almost blasphemous. Being cooped up behind a desk for 8 hours a day is fine, but beyond that? We need the capability to get out of our apartments and houses and into the bustling environments around us in order to free our minds and reconnect with the world around us. And in fact, it seems that those busy coffee shops and cafes that people tend to bring their laptops to, can be more conducive towards working.
Laptops and Tablets Allow Us to Have Stronger Connections to Our Devices
It’s strange to think about, but I’ve yet to have a desktop PC that I have developed any real, emotional connection towards. And part of that, I believe, is just due to the fact that we are often disconnected from desktop PCs. We type on keyboards and use mouses that are either connected through long wires, or wirelessly connected via bluetooth.
But that’s not to say that I have some strange technology fetish. That’s weird. On the other hand, there is something alluring and emotionally appealing about both my laptop and my iPad that I have yet to find in a desktop PC. They are easy to carry around, making it even more convenient to share or collaborate with others.
Still, desktop computers and servers remain an important and large piece of the enterprising part of the world. They will probably remain there until server farms and other huge data processing facilities become obsolete which, most likely, won’t be anytime soon.
Ultimately, though, desktop computers are dying because they are based on a standard that is decades old. With new technology comes increasing mobility and ease of use. That’s only natural. And contained within the world’s smallest smart phones of today is technology that is most likely significantly faster than computers from just a decade ago.
Our world is becoming increasingly more and more mobile. Unfortunately, in that world, there is becoming less and less room for such technological relics as the desktop. That’s perfectly okay with me, though.