The Personal Computer is Dead; Long Live The Personal Network!


Zardoz speaks to you, the chosen ones! Ah, wither the PC. With the rise of the tablet, rapidly dissolving profit margins and the rising costs of operating software as a percentage of the total PC value (save for Linux PC’s) it’s not surprising that the PC is now fading away. In prior years, one obtained PC’s owing to laptops not having the adequate processing power necessary to manage larger programs (not to mention PC’s having larger screens). Now, with the rise of tablets and laptops, building, selling and marketing PC’s is now no longer a viable business model.

Duh.

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: “surprise, surprise, surprise.”

Laptops (i.e., notebooks, MacBooks, Airbooks, etc., etc.) have tremendous processing power – in fact, most laptops today generally match or exceed a number of PC’s out there now. Between operating systems cost, the constant threat of viruses (and the ever-constant cost to keep up with the latest anti-virus software) it’s enough to make one look for other options. And frankly, why do you need all that processing power to support an entire array of programs that chances are, you will rarely – if ever – truly use? And if you’re checking out the laptops, chances are you’re finding out that your needs are going to be largely met.

For businesses, PC’s are increasingly no longer a viable cost item. As just discussed, a PC is an expensive notion. Better to issue laptops – or, as some entities are already doing, issuing tablets.

This is all part of a far greater, more significant trend. It’s not just so much the end of the PC, but rather the evolution of the network – more specifically the rise of the personal / focused network. For the past decades, PCs were stand alone islands who just happened to link to other PC’s via network connections whereby the nature of any given network was determined by the users and the PC’s. Now, it is how you control and access your network(s) – and not the PC – which defines you through service offerings (music, iTunes, video, picture files, etc.) as networks are no longer simply wires and routers: they are living ecologies.

It’s also no coincidence that the PC’s are doomed, for with the advent of Cloud computing who needs a big box to hold your data? Who needs to get a dedicated (large) viewing screen when you can simply interface with your flat screen television and do your homework, give a presentation or conduct a Skype call? Your files can be stored remotely through a subscription service or on a dedicated 4 or 5 Tb home network drive, allowing you to set up your very own VPN (Virtual Private Network) allowing you access files regardless if you’re in Philadelphia or Paris, Moscow or Montevideo, Beijing or Benjaymi?

What clearly holds greater importance nowadays is the network and the speed by which you connect to any network – and, more importantly, how you organize and access your information. Really, aside from screen size why do you need a regular PC? Get a tablet, watch YouTube videos; do your homework on a MacBook and text away on your Android. Or, for that matter, kick back and download your Netfix or iTunes – and if you’re really clever, rip some DVD’s and store them on your network drive (Whoops! Sorry, I disavow any such action for fear of the RIAA zombies).

You get the point. It’s no longer about the box: it’s about the ecology. And it’s all about how you define the ecology you will live, work and play in.

Networks are living things: they have hiccups, have good days and bad days and depending upon your flavor, allow you to do things that previously – hell, hardly five years ago – was not possible. It all depends upon the nature of the services, routine and platforms you’re seeking: IOS / Apple, Android or otherwise how you want to work and play determines the network you’re going to be using.

In days past, it was how and what you put on your PC / box; now, it’s how you set up and develop your network and its ancillary services / routines.

For those of us who are science fiction fans, none of this comes as a surprise. John Boorman predicted this kind of thing (along with Star Trek and a host of others) from his (rather intense) film “Zardoz”, with Boorman’s notion of everyone being connected to a vast impermeable computer network known as the ‘tabernacle’. Made of crystals imbedded in users’ heads, the tabernacle linked users along with an extensive series of libraries (and not just one library, mind you) enabling users to access data, communicate and interact within a community of their peers 24 x 7 x 365.

Looking back, such notions were considered the domain of the ‘weirdo’ or the ‘fanatic’ – or simply the result of smoking too much pot and listening to Yes’s ‘Starship Trooper’ over and over and over: now, it’s gradually becoming true within our lifetime that what was talked about is actually happening (and for the record, I never really got into Yes).

So, if you’re wondering about taking that dive off the deep end and getting into Windows 8, that’s your call, but the Vegas line on this is not good – and the numbers are continuing to drop. In the meantime, this is great time to take advantage of services and sales that are now getting really cheap, offering options that previously were unheard of five years ago. As the old timers will tell you, it was cool to ‘build your own personal box’; now the cool thing is to build your own personal network.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check out my iTune’s account and see if they ever got around to getting ‘Space 1999’ on for viewing on my iPad while getting ready for my webinar which I’m offering to potential clients.

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