Monday, October 5, 2015

How Desktop Computers disappeared from our desks?


Let me begin with the accessories. There used to be Floppy Disks (1.44 MB!) which gave way to CD’s which would hold the entire movie or hundreds of songs and other media. Now CD’s are dying a slow death with the rise of Flash Memory sticks which are more reliable and fit in pockets too.


Similarly, the Desktop computers which occupied a large portion on our desks slowly gave way to laptops. When the smartphones began to make any dumb person holding it appear smart, Laptops were needed only for work, to spend the long hour. Otherwise any other quick thing, you would do it on your phone. When this is the trend who would refresh their desktops? Be it corporate or Individual consumer, they did not see a good reason to replace their desktop or upgrade them with higher RAM or things like that as they did a decade ago.

It was Steve Jobs who had said consumer does not know what he wants so market research was of no value for him. He made billions for his company with the roll out of iPhones and iPads. While Apple was grabbing the market share and building a cash pile, the whole supply-chain of Personal Computer (PC) makers from HP to Intel suffered. Swing in the gadget adoption which delighted the consumers changed the fortunes for many in the industry. Winners in the smartphone supply chain like Applie, Qualcom, ARM, TSMC and Foxconn triumphed and those who missed the bus had to cut their staff as their profits halved and their stock prices decimated. HP had to lay-off more than 50,000 people. AMD, a micro-processor maker (competitor to Intel) was another victim as PC sales contracted along with their market share. Now their stock trades below $2, a 75% drop form its price during 2010.


Mobility wave lifted few companies and dumped many. It moved many of the functions done on a bulky computer to a hand held phone. Our desks got cleared but people are glued to their smartphones. Window to the world does not stay on your desk now but in your hands.

Similar changes are happening in the software space too. Many desktop software found replacement in Enterprise-wide applications which are moving to cloud now on per per use model. Automation has taken prominence. Some of the widely used apps like those provided by Google cost nothing for the end users as they found different ways to make money other than directly charging the end user. New technologies and apps have made the life easier for many. Now a housewife orders vegetables online. And you don’t miss any of the gossips with WhatsApp.

All this change happened in the recent past, fairly quickly. For the newer generation, a desktop computer does not appeal any more, it has to rest in peace.