The rise and fall of personal computing
January 18, 2012 9:45 AM   Subscribe

The rise and fall of personal computing - A neat (and in some ways, stark) visualization of the impact of mobile devices on computing
posted by Blazecock Pileon (150 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Note the log scale.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:50 AM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Not much evidence here of the 'fall' part. I have an iPad, but I can't yet foresee a time when I won't need a personal computer.
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


To what extent are people abandoning their personal computing platform to do everything on a phone or tablet, though? Some of that is being talked out in the comments thread there, on a quick glance.
posted by gimonca at 9:56 AM on January 18, 2012


Fail? I see the PC industry going flat between 1988-1991, 2000-2002 and 2008-2011.

Let's play a game. I call it "Spot the Recessions."
posted by eriko at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


GASOLINE SALES MAKE UP NEARLY 99% OF THE CAMPING GEAR MARKET
posted by one_bean at 9:57 AM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


There should also be a graph in there someplace for (dumb) mobile phone adoption.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:58 AM on January 18, 2012


We're seeing a new form of computing that compliments not replaces the PC industry. Of course the units shipped number is high for the last few years. People are making their first purchases of these mobile devices. The numbers for purchases might remain high, but consider that most mobile devices get replaced often, and it's like comparing oranges and apples.

Reminds me of the "Disco Stu" graph of disco albums from 1977 to 1979. Imagine if that trend continues!
posted by inthe80s at 10:01 AM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


There should also be a graph in there someplace for (dumb) mobile phone adoption.

It would wreck the grading curve.
posted by Talez at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess that's snappier than calling it "the sharp rise and then significantly less-sharp rise of personal computing."
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


What gets me is how much more personal the newer "personal" computers are, though, driven heavily by the most recent software paradigms (see: iOS, Lion). It's hard to have a "family iPad" because it's meant to handle ONE person's email, ONE person's Facebook, ONE person's Twitter, etc. Logging in and out constantly is difficult to do with the interfaces you're given and therefore isn't desirable as a solution to multiple people's needs. So as more and more work can be done on smartphones and iPads, you suddenly have to buy one for every person who wants the use of the technology, rather than one for multiple people to use. So that by nature is going to drive up unit sales versus a piece of technology like a standard PC that multiple people can use regularly.
posted by olinerd at 10:02 AM on January 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


2 or 3 data points do not make a graph. The iPad, etc numbers are basically meaningless.

And the PC world has changed even absent mobile devices. You don't need to upgrade every 2 years when machines are doubling in power anymore. This graph doesn't show adoption, it shows sales.
posted by DU at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Personal computing would be PC plus MacIntosh plus Ipads (on that graph) which is not even flat, much less declining.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:04 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the end of the article (emphasis mine): "If iOS and Android are added as potential substitutions for personal computing, the share of PCs suddenly collapses to less than 50%. It also suggests much more collapse to come. I will concede that this last view is extremist. It does not reflect a competition that exists in real life."

Then why put them on a chart showing competition for market share? Everyone I know who has an iPad also has a computer; the same for folks with Android tablets. They are not as yet mutually exclusive purchases for most users, although perhaps we're heading that way.
posted by cjelli at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think this is interesting in light of the recentish Cory Doctorow post. I'm not sure I agree there's a war on general purpose computing as he frames it, but there is certainly a trend toward more specialized devices, while at the same time mobile devices open up many more possibilities than desktop machines (seemingly) could imagine. I was just telling someone yesterday about how terrific it would be if every car, instead of a 'check engine' idiot light, could communicate with your smartphone and tell you what it needs. What if car manufacturers all had their branded app? Honda's could tell you how to get more gas mileage; GM's could tell you how big a trailer full of bridge parts you could haul. Et cetera. In a SOPA et al. free world we could even imagine third-party apps that would let you gas-miser your GMC truck and, I dunno, overclock your Nissan (both analogy and not). Anyway, this small example shows how mobile devices are ideal for certain applications that would be comparatively awkward on a PC.

The vision of mobile devices is truly a qualitative leap similar to that from time-sharing computers to personal computers. Just like in my lifetime phones have gone from something a house(hold) has to something ~everyone has and carries with them at ~all times, computers are going to a new culture of ubiquity that doesn't square with the desktop model. That was pretty much something a house(hold) has, too, but now it's something most people have several of in each room.

I don't think sales, then, are necessarily showing the demise of the PC. They're showing the adoption of complementary devices that by design are more numerous.
posted by dhartung at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


you suddenly have to buy one for every person who wants the use of the technology, rather than one for multiple people to use

I heard on the tech rumor sites that Apple will bring working face recognition to their devices as a way to address (family) sharing. What these computers do is almost certain to change a great deal over the next few years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:06 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That will certainly help me parent more effectively:
"If you keep making faces like that, your face will stay that way and you won't be able to access the iPad!"
posted by Kabanos at 10:11 AM on January 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


> you suddenly have to buy one for every person who wants the use of the technology, rather than one for multiple people to use

I heard on the tech rumor sites that Apple will bring working face recognition to their devices as a way to address (family) sharing. What these computers do is almost certain to change a great deal over the next few years.


Good point, Blazecock Pileon. On the desktop, there's already a trend towards apps that allow multiple logins (such as on Reddit, where multiple aliases are frequently used for comedic effects - LOL_UserName - rather than just for schill votes).

No doubt this will come to mobile apps, especially on the open Android OS.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:13 AM on January 18, 2012


I think this shows there was an intensely strong demand for a Windows alternative, but it took the introduction of the iPhone to do it in a way where making a break from the entrenched ecosystem made sense.

The new paradigm is a dual-software model: mini-apps tuned for your platform, and web services that are offered universally regardless of platform and offer standardized hooks app developers can use. This prevents vendor lock-in - the bad old days of the Windows monoculture is over. Roku set-top boxes and iPads and Android phones all work on this model.

Apple is trying for a vendor lock-in at the file level by eliminating the filesystem and ways to export to or import from non-Apple ecosystems, but I don't think their market position is dominant enough for that strategy to do anything but piss off Mac users (who still matter, as the profit margin on Macs is unreal.)

I also think Apple is going to cave in and offer iTunes and iBooks as a universal web service... otherwise Amazon or Spotify is going to eat their lunch in content distribution. The experience will be better on a Mac or iDevice, but Apple needs the Android userbase to keep their sweetheart deals with the studios.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the desktop, there's already a trend towards apps that allow multiple logins (such as on Reddit, where multiple aliases are frequently used for comedic effects - LOL_UserName - rather than just for schill votes).

This statement hurts my brain.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the desktop, there's already a trend towards apps that allow multiple logins (such as on Reddit, where multiple aliases are frequently used for comedic effects - LOL_UserName - rather than just for schill votes).

nthing the brainhurt. Reddit is not an app. Desktops already allow multiple logins. My kids manage to share a Linux computer with absolutely no difficulty (other than arguing over whose turn it is). Even the 4 year old can type his own password in.
posted by DU at 10:19 AM on January 18, 2012


I only want to add, anecdotally, that I know one person who owns an iPad and no PC whatsoever. He gave his macbook away after he bought the iPad. This person is an IT professional.
posted by Evstar at 10:19 AM on January 18, 2012


I heard on the tech rumor sites that Apple will bring working face recognition to their devices as a way to address (family) sharing.

Aha! I've been saying for years that facial recognition is the breakthrough we need to finally be able to support multiple users on one machine.
posted by kmz at 10:21 AM on January 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


From an interview which was linked in and appears to be with the author of the FPP link:

it’s not so much that PCs will disappear any more than mainframes or servers have disappeared. What is more likely is that they will be used for isolated, focused jobs. The “end of an era” is the end of growth, not the end of existence.

This is a much more realistic way of looking at things. The PC isn't going away any more than mainframe computers have disappeared; rather, a new approach to computing is superceding much of the functionality of the PC. As most people have noted, tablets currently supplement PCs- however, approaches like apple's PC-free ipads offer the possibility that for a subset of ipad users, no PC will be required. I imagine this subset will continue to grow and may eventually constitute a majority of users, which would substantiate the authors claim that the PC era is over.
posted by ianhattwick at 10:22 AM on January 18, 2012


Seriously, a hard part of graphing this is getting real numbers. "Shipped" means nothing if it doesn't sell. Amazon doesn't report any number on Kindles. There's no breakout between Android phones and tablets (so, arguably, one should plot the sum of iOS devices as well, if not instead.) Apple reports sales.

A fascinating trend is comparing the slope of Macintosh vs. PC in the last six years. Yes, the PC has an order of magnitude more sales, but while the Mac flatted much harder after the dot.bomb, the Mac has basically ignored the Great Recession -- if anything, it's doing better.
posted by eriko at 10:23 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't need to upgrade every 2 years when machines are doubling in power anymore.

^ This. Plus every generation more shit gets offloaded to the GPU. 1080p Flash? Who the hell needs a Core i7 to do that when they offloaded most of it to the GPU which does it better with one hand tied behind its back anyway.

Microsoft aren't helping either by keeping their newer OSes running on older hardware better than previous OSes.
posted by Talez at 10:24 AM on January 18, 2012


The Rise of Mobile Computing and the Gentle, Continued Growth of Desktop Computing
posted by gilrain at 10:25 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right now, PCs are consumer electronics. So are iPads and iPhones and whatnot. But mobile devices are smaller and...mobile. So they are great for consuming on the go. But PCs are still producer electronics too and iPads and Androids are definitely not. If that ever happens, I'll definitely be on the bandwagon.
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on January 18, 2012


I only want to add, anecdotally, that I know one person who owns an iPad and no PC whatsoever. He gave his macbook away after he bought the iPad. This person is an IT professional.

I was an IT professional for a while. Back then, I only used a typewriter, I didn't own any electronic devices.
posted by MysteriousMan at 10:31 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Waste of space web site.

Log scale AND apples vs. oranges.

Last I heard, in order to even activate an iPhone or iPad you need to plug it into a traditional computer running iTunes - so almost by definition these products do not compete with each other (ignoring outlying scenarios like buying an ipad for one's grandmother.) Not true with Android but still, these are largely replacing phones, not computers.

To me it looks like the Windows PC market share is being eaten into by the Apple Mac market share (which reflects what I see in cafes and offices), but every segment is still experiencing strong growth.
posted by dickasso at 10:33 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not only is that top graph logarithmic, it's cumulative. PCs are currently selling in higher numbers than anything else.

Calling this a "fall of personal computing" is link bait. The fact that people increasingly own smartphones does not imply that they don't increasingly own PCs and Macs as well.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2012


Reddit is totally an app. As in MeFi. Most software written nowadays is to the web. It's just the easiest way, by far, to build a GUI.

(Side note: People do *not understand* the revolution of HTML. A programming language that didn't crash? Especially when asked to do graphical things?)
posted by effugas at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Capitalism has been barreling down the "produce at work, consume at home," road for a long time. I'm not a fan of it myself, but we can expect computers to fall into that pattern.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012


Right now, PCs are consumer electronics. So are iPads and iPhones and whatnot. But mobile devices are smaller and...mobile. So they are great for consuming on the go. But PCs are still producer electronics too and iPads and Androids are definitely not.

Also fervid claims that all media would reshape itself to the mobile platform (Casual games will be the only games! Japanes cell phone novels will be the only books! All movies will be made for a screen the size of a notecard!) have proved to be...not entirely warranted. There's still tons of media -the majority I would speculate- that is consumed not on the go for various reasons. Mobile platforms have carved out a large media niche, but they have not been the complete replacement some were predicting.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:35 AM on January 18, 2012


It seems Frinkian to think that the majority of computers won't move to smaller, mobile form factors. In the near-term, some people might need a big box under their desk to have enough processing power/storage/whatever, but I think very few people actually want a big box under their desk.

I think the likelihood of me buying a desktop computer in the future is about the same as me ordering more checks from my bank.
posted by snofoam at 10:37 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But PCs are still producer electronics too and iPads and Androids are definitely not.

Remember RISC/Unix workstations? No? Kind of my point. They were "producer electronics" that were replaced by desktop PCs... the lion's share of development will be going to tablets and other "lightweight" clients.

If you want your brain to really bend, powerful tablets and phones may replace datacenters: your site - not just the content layer but the interactive presentation layer - will be distributed peer-to-peer. Once the bandwidth is fat enough, the storage dense enough, and the processor/GPU combo brawny enough, they will easily accommodate the encryption, memory and data transfer rates required to run, say, Metafilter, in realtime, on a virtual machine hosted on a million different devices. Think of it as a benign, strictly opt-in botnet.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:38 AM on January 18, 2012


But, of course, I don't think this implies the fall of personal computing in any way. The shape or size of the device doesn't define whether it is a computer.
posted by snofoam at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I heard on the tech rumor sites that Apple will bring working face recognition to their devices as a way to address (family) sharing.

I've heard that, too. On the other hand, they could, you know.... allow devices to have a username and passcode for each user.
posted by chimaera at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I miss my Commodore 64. That's all.
posted by jbickers at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Shipped" means nothing if it doesn't sell.

A company that manufactures, ships, and then doesn't sell isn't long for the world.
posted by smackfu at 10:40 AM on January 18, 2012


Aha! I've been saying for years that facial recognition is the breakthrough we need to finally be able to support multiple users on one machine.

That makes one of us, then, because I never said or implied that facial recognition was a requirement. Maybe computers will one day help with reading comprehension.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 AM on January 18, 2012


But PCs are still producer electronics too and iPads and Androids are definitely not.

This makes no sense to me. Probably the vast majority of people with home computers produce little or nothing on them, and someone who does produce stuff is going to do it on whatever device they have.
posted by snofoam at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember RISC/Unix workstations? No? Kind of my point.

Depending on what you mean by "Unix workstation", I'm typing this on a Unix workstation. My home machine is also a Unix workstation. My kids use one too and hate the Windows crap at school.

If you mean the specialized hardware...yes, kind of MY point. Once the desktops got powerful enough to run Unix/Linux, the "high-end" hardware was high-end in price only. Mobile devices aren't there yet by a long shot. They aren't even going in the right direction. (The bottleneck on mobile devices being used for real work isn't the processor speed, it's the user<->computer bandwidth. Reducing all apps to having a single button isn't fixing that problem.)
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probably the vast majority of people with home computers produce little or nothing on them...

Sure they do. Emails, web comments, sofware, edited photos, music, sales on ebay, etc.

Every mobile device I've handled is great if all you want to do is watch a (tiny) movie or send out a single character at a time in. But for any data more than a couple sentences, you really need a keyboard (so far).
posted by DU at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"OMG desktop computing is dying and everyone's going to be forced to use stupid crappy touchscreen devices" articles are the 2011-2012 equivalent of all those "OMG bloggers and their stupid crappy blogs, won't somebody think of the journalists" articles from about 10 years ago.
posted by usonian at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That makes one of us, then, because I never said or implied that facial recognition was a requirement.

You were replying to somebody complaining about the lack of multi-user support in tablets. If facial recognition isn't a requirement, then what's the point of bringing it up? It doesn't address at all why they don't currently support multi-user logins.
posted by kmz at 10:48 AM on January 18, 2012


DU: “But PCs are still producer electronics too and iPads and Androids are definitely not. If that ever happens, I'll definitely be on the bandwagon.”

Er. I think I mostly agree with you, as somebody who sits in front of a screen all day and codes for a living, but this is a really fuzzy way to put it, and one that doesn't quite capture it correctly. I produced this song entirely on an iPad, and while it's kind of amateurish, other people are doing much better stuff too. I share your feeling that the iPad interface isn't necessarily fantastic for coding a few hundred lines, but I don't really know what you mean by "producer electronics."

Also, I write as many emails on my phone as I do on my computer at this point. So if emails are "production," then... well.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 AM on January 18, 2012


I think other people must have much tinier fingers, or faster thumbs, than I do.
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on January 18, 2012


(Side note: People do *not understand* the revolution of HTML. A programming language that didn't crash? Especially when asked to do graphical things?)

The presentation layer is pretty stable, yes, but the bits that make webpages "apps" most certainly can crash.

(Related: HTML is not a programming language.)
posted by kmz at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


But for any data more than a couple sentences, you really need a keyboard

Most user generated content is only a couple of sentences long. Including the content I'm creating right now.

Also, keyboards are a common tablet accessory for times when you want to write a novel or paper or vicious flame. My brother-in-law, a teacher's aid, hasn't used his MacBook in almost a year - everything is done from his iPad. It's ideal for reading student papers and journal articles.

Likewise, I use Youtube almost exclusively on my television via the Roku. The lack of a keyboard isn't much of a hindrance in finding my folk's vacation videos or my Aunt's dog videos.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:53 AM on January 18, 2012


Emails, web comments, sofware [sic], edited photos, music, sales on ebay, etc.

All of which can be easily done on an iPad.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:55 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, keyboards are a common tablet accessory for times when you want to write a novel or paper or vicious flame.

The lack of a keyboard isn't much of a hindrance in finding my folk's vacation videos or my Aunt's dog videos.

This is exactly my point. A keyboard needed for producing, not so much for consuming.
posted by DU at 10:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think other people must have much tinier fingers, or faster thumbs, than I do.

I see this idea a lot... are other touchscreens very different from Apple's (I haven't ever noticed, but they might be)? You don't need to have small fingers to use one. You can mash the keyboard with any sized appendage and it will know that you wanted to type whatever key is in the middle of your finger. I suppose this could be a problem if you had um, bad aim, but you'd have the same issues on a real keyboard.

And also you can connect any bluetooth keyboard into any of these things as well.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:56 AM on January 18, 2012


effugas: “Side note: People do *not understand* the revolution of HTML. A programming language that didn't crash? Especially when asked to do graphical things?”

This statement is a fundamental misunderstanding of programming languages. Programming languages are supposed to crash. The best programming languages crash emphatically and with much fanfare. A language that does not tell you when you're using it wrong is not useful at all. The best programming languages are languages that stop and tell you precisely when you're doing something wrong, so that there's no mistaking it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:00 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


My n900 has a hardware keyboard, and it is a GNU/Linux system, and with the help of X11 sticky keys and some magic in my .emacs file I can edit code comfortably on it. And of course I have the compilers and interpreters and documentation installed on the device so I can test and use that code (mind you I did choose the device specifically because it offered a general purpose Linux setup, and setting up the keys and keyboard for emacs to really be usable did take fiddling).
posted by idiopath at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can mash the keyboard with any sized appendage and it will know that you wanted to type whatever key is in the middle of your finger.

In theory. In practice, I probably have a typo in every single sentence I type on the phone, and it's a pain to correct, especially if it autocorrects to something completely wrong. On a full-size keyboard, I touch type pretty flawlessly, so it's not just general incompetence here.
posted by smackfu at 11:03 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All of which can be easily done on an iPad.

You cannot upload photos or videos (or any type of file) from an iOS device without a specialized app. iOS devices are not computers. They are appliances which you are only allowed to use in ways that are agreeable with the manufacturer.

(Not saying they're evil or anything, but if you can't run unsigned apps on it without violating laws or the terms and conditions set forth by the device maker, I don't consider it a computer.)
posted by deanklear at 11:05 AM on January 18, 2012


In theory. In practice, I probably have a typo in every single sentence I type on the phone, and it's a pain to correct, especially if it autocorrects to something completely wrong. On a full-size keyboard, I touch type pretty flawlessly, so it's not just general incompetence here.

But this isn't because you have "big fingers." I'm not saying that everybody can type as good or as fast on a touchscreen keyboard as they do on a real one.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:06 AM on January 18, 2012


The title is really misleading. A far more likely scenario is that (a) PCs have hit a saturation point, as a natural part of the S-curve of adoption, and (b) people have fewer reasons to upgrade their computers because the performance is good enough for pretty much all of their needs.

People who say the PC is going away really don't know what they're talking about. PCs fit a very important niche, in office applications, video editing, and so on. Mobile devices fit a different and complementary niche.

I put articles like this in the same category as people who say the mouse is going away. Our fingers just don't have enough precision to hit small targets, and it's far more efficient, faster, and less RSI strain to use a mouse for pointing tasks.
posted by jasonhong at 11:08 AM on January 18, 2012


Not saying they're evil or anything, but if you can't run unsigned apps on it without violating laws or the terms and conditions set forth by the device maker, I don't consider it a computer.

Even if you can "jailbreak" it?

The first Cable Modem I ever got (back in ~1998?) had terms which went something like that I was only supposed to use Windows 95/98 with IE and Exchange Mail. But I could disobey them and be unsupported. Was this not an ISP?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure they do. Emails, web comments, sofware, edited photos, music, sales on ebay, etc.

Every mobile device I've handled is great if all you want to do is watch a (tiny) movie or send out a single character at a time in. But for any data more than a couple sentences, you really need a keyboard (so far).


It seems to me that you have set up a dichotomy based on your own experience/preference. People email, comment on the web, take and edit photos, make music, sell on ebay, etc on mobile devices all the time. The iPhone 4 is the most used camera on flickr in terms of volume of photos. I would actually totally bet that the majority of images that have been digitally post-processed are taken with mobile devices and post-processed on those mobile devices.

Also, Damon Albarn recorded the last Gorillaz album on his iPad on your lawn.
posted by snofoam at 11:12 AM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would actually totally bet that the majority of images that have been digitally post-processed are taken with mobile devices and post-processed on those mobile devices.

I agree. The barrier to entry for editing photos (for people who aren't "Photographers") on phones is "go to its application store and download the free photo editor, which you can find usually in the Top 10 section, it is so easy to use that you won't need to read any instructions" versus on PCs which is "Pay at the very least $100 for a watered down Photoshop" or download Gimp and GET READY TO FEEL STUPID AND ANGRY.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2012


Probably true, if shitty Instagram counts as digital post-processing.
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on January 18, 2012


Probably true, if shitty Instagram counts as digital post-processing.

Any tool can be misued. The latest Photoshop CS still ships with Solarize and Find Edges.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:19 AM on January 18, 2012


If facial recognition isn't a requirement, then what's the point of bringing it up?

To make the point that families will probably find it easier to share a device if they don't need to manage usernames and passwords? Not everyone in every family is a system administrator, and even if they were, I never said or implied that it was a requirement. Jesus H. Christ. If you really just hate the fact that I post threads and comments, just take it to Metatalk or Twitter or something, ffs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:19 AM on January 18, 2012


Yeah, it's not like this is just another repost from Daring Fireball or anything.
posted by smackfu at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


If facial recognition isn't a requirement, then what's the point of bringing it up?

I think that this also alludes to a bigger point, which is that as these relatively new devices become more mature it's pretty likely that developers will continue to find new ways to compensate for their shortcomings, like better ways to deal with small screens or lack of a keyboard. Multitouch made accessing the web (or doing anything) on a small device much, much easier and I'm sure that future innovation will make these devices more useful in other ways, be it speech recognition, tactile feedback or whatever.
posted by snofoam at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2012


It's funny how little multitouch is really used though. Really just the pinch gestures are 90% of it.
posted by smackfu at 11:27 AM on January 18, 2012


It's funny how little multitouch is really used though. Really just the pinch gestures are 90% of it.

You totally have a point there. I rarely use multitouch on my ipod. Interestingly, I use it constantly on my mac.
posted by snofoam at 11:30 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use multitouch a big pile on the [stand-alone] touch pad on my Mac. Back, etc. are all there, and I really use it quite a bit. Not nearly so much on the iPad. Funny indeed.

Although iPad is not entirely (yet) a replacement for general computers, it has replaced my around-the-house laptop which, when it got to aged and got relegated to the shop to play music and look up things, got replaced by the iPad. I no longer own a personal laptop, just the iPad. Serious (personal) work is done on the Mac Pro.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:32 AM on January 18, 2012


I was just telling someone yesterday about how terrific it would be if every car, instead of a 'check engine' idiot light, could communicate with your smartphone and tell you what it needs. What if car manufacturers all had their branded app? ... In a SOPA et al. free world we could even imagine third-party apps that would let you gas-miser your GMC truck and, I dunno, overclock your Nissan
Android OBD2 reader iPhone ODB2 app

It would be easy for your car to show you an error code you could look up in the manual to see what was wrong, even back in the 80s. They don't do that because they want you to bring your car back to the dealer where they can charge you money to look at it and (if it's out of warrenty) up sell you on whatever.

Interestingly, the reason these apps can exist is because of the law, which mandates an open standard for car diagnostics.
Remember RISC/Unix workstations? No? Kind of my point. They were "producer electronics" that were replaced by desktop PCs... the lion's share of development will be going to tablets and other "lightweight" clients.
Yeah but why is a tablet not a "PC"? If it can run 'producer' apps then isn't just a PC in a nice formfactor? Especially since there have been tablet PCs for years and years.

And furthermore "personal computing" is different from "desktop PC" a smart phone is very much a "personal computer" even if it's not a "PC"
(Side note: People do *not understand* the revolution of HTML. A programming language that didn't crash? Especially when asked to do graphical things?)
Netscape1- 4 crashed a lot.
posted by delmoi at 11:33 AM on January 18, 2012


"Also, Damon Albarn recorded the last Gorillaz album on his iPad on your lawn."

HA! right... somehow I think "recorded" is a bit of a stretch - the iPad doesn't even have a fully fledged multi-track recorder.

more like sketched out a few rough Ideas on an iPad before going into the studio to record it all properly and have it mixed and mastered professionally in ProTools on some massive over-powered PC or Mac
posted by mary8nne at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


A consumption-only device will never replace a PC.
posted by hellslinger at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2012


They need to be more careful in the labeling. The main title is "units shipped per year" and if you miss the side graph label that says that it's thousands of units, you get thoughts like, "huh - they only shipped 12 NeXT boxes in 1989? That means that the company I worked for bought 1/4 of the stock - no effing way."
posted by plinth at 11:45 AM on January 18, 2012


HA! right... somehow I think "recorded" is a bit of a stretch - the iPad doesn't even have a fully fledged multi-track recorder.

Most PCs can only record one stereo track at a time, too. You don't need to record 8+ tracks at the same time to produce anything. Multi-track inputs are really fucking expensive, and countless people make "real" music all the time just one track at a time.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:50 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm sure in 1980 there were a bunch of people saying that PCs would never replace mainframe computers, and they were right in the sense that there are still some mainframe computers. In fact, probably there are more mainframes today than there were in 1980. On the other hand, in the sense that PCs and other computers vastly outnumber mainframes and have capabilities that the naysayers couldn't even imagine in 1980, they are wrong. I don't see how this is not exactly the same thing now.

The arguments distinguishing PCs from other computers in this thread are already hanging by a thread. Sure, both can upload a photo, both need some kind of app to upload a photo, but the phone is not a computer because it needs a "specialized" app. Sure, you can do multitrack recording on an iPad or even an iPod, but it's not a "fully-fledged" multitrack recording environment, so it doesn't count.

The amazing thing to me is that so many people who seem to be knowledgeable about computers can't seem to see what's going on. It's exactly what happens in technology time and time again, so it seems like it would be obvious.
posted by snofoam at 11:52 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Honestly I don't see any good reason you couldn't make music on an iPad. It might be a bit painful, and I'd probably choose a 24"+ monitor, but you can't use that on a beach so I understand the choice.
posted by smackfu at 11:52 AM on January 18, 2012


Are you guys sure it's Apple that has the reality distortion field?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I only ask because some of these comments are downright Baghdad Bob-esque.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


No True Scotsman would ever record music on anything other than through an Mbox hooked up to a desktop.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:59 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, Mboxes only have stero input.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:03 PM on January 18, 2012


Sometimes extremism is a better point of view than conservatism.

Bit hard to this seriously, no?

I can't see the fall in personal computing that is claimed -- as others have noted, android/iphone/ipad etc are almost entirely used as supplements rather than replacements for personal computers. Even as the price of tablets continues to drop, this is unlikely to change, at least until successful 'hybrid' tablets exist -- I can certainly forsee a point in time where the guts of my iPad are powerful enough that I can slip into a pseudo-desktop setup when I want and have the freedom of a big screen and external keyboard/mouse setup, but still be able to take a lightweight tablet with me on the go. (this is of course would also assume that iOS and Mac OS slowly merge, but in a positive rather than negative way, an assumption I admit I am hesitant to make).
posted by modernnomad at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2012


(... to TAKE this seriously...)
posted by modernnomad at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2012


It seems to me that you have set up a dichotomy based on your own experience/preference. People email, comment on the web, take and edit photos, make music, sell on ebay, etc on mobile devices all the time. The iPhone 4 is the most used camera on flickr in terms of volume of photos. I would actually totally bet that the majority of images that have been digitally post-processed are taken with mobile devices and post-processed on those mobile devices.

Agreed. The idea that you can only send out small sentences on a phone is silly. I don't type as well on my iPhone as I do on my mac, but I type well enough for email, small blog posts, etc. I type well enough that I never think 'I need to wait until I get on my mac'.

If I had to give up my mac or my iPhone for a month, I'd miss my iPhone much more.

A lot of the shortcomings brought up here (you still need a computer to set them up!) are discussing tablet computers as if they'll stay as is. People ARE creating on tablets today, and I'm sure the iPad of 3 years from now will make today's look like a toy.

Take photo-editing. I can get rid of red eye, crop, straighten, all easier and faster than on my mac.

The amazing thing to me is that so many people who seem to be knowledgeable about computers can't seem to see what's going on. It's exactly what happens in technology time and time again, so it seems like it would be obvious.
posted by snofoam


They can't see outside their own little worlds. They're on their linux box they made themselves and can't understand why anyone would have anything else. I don't really see a problem, though. They'll remain happy and continue to shake their fist at the young whippersnappers as the world passes them by.
posted by justgary at 12:26 PM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


If facial recognition isn't a requirement, then what's the point of bringing it up? It doesn't address at all why they don't currently support multi-user logins.

Facial recognition isn't necessary for multi-user support, but it's sufficient. What's more, having people logout and then type in a username and password for a tablet is a pain, whereas simply handing them the device, which then automatically recognizes the change in user, is easy.

However, given that this is Apple we're talking about, it's reasonable to think it would not bother making tablets multi-user devices until it had developed an easy, tablet-appropriate way of switching between users. So from that perspective, facial recognition may be necessary for multi-user support on an Apple tablet.
posted by jedicus at 12:33 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was six I had this toy called KingDing. It was a big robot with a plastic bubble for a head that a little Brain robot rode around in, after ascending via an elevator in KingDing's legs.

Someday, personal computing will be like KingDing and Brain, except instead of one KingDing and one Brain, you'll have KingDings of assorted statures and one Brain, which will fit in your pocket and push enough cycles to:

- serve as a pocket computer, same as a smartphone
- drive a slightly larger form factor in the shape of a tablet
- drive an even bigger form factor, same as a desktop PC
- drive a still bigger form factor, like a 50" t.v.

It'll do it all wirelessly, and the desktop terminals will be the coolest because they'll work a lot like a SunRay, except instead of the semi-dumb terminal reaching out to a server to restore your desktop, it'll reach into your pocket after recognizing that you're standing next to it.

Oh, and in corporate settings all the company owned Brains will pool processing time, like what Progeny Linux was working on before the '01 downturn hit and turned it into a support company. So your secretary Brains will give up the 75 percent of their cycles they don't need to do mail and word processors so the engineer or accounting or video rendering Brains can have the cycles.

Cloud stuff sort of creates KingDing/Brain-style setups now, to the extent the cloud provides a portable knowledge layer, but the devices are still more capable individually than they'd need to be if they were part of a genuine whole that shared a brain and not just information.
posted by mph at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2012


Last I heard, in order to even activate an iPhone or iPad you need to plug it into a traditional computer running iTunes

This is no longer required, as of iOS 5.
posted by jedicus at 12:35 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


- drive a still bigger form factor, like a 50" t.v.

We can do that now, with Airplay mirroring. It is pretty neat!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:46 PM on January 18, 2012


The growing popularity of iPads makes me sad, because that's not the world I want to live in. There is, however, nothing I can do about it, and there seem to be more people who do want to live in that world, so I guess it's going to keep happening. I liked the old way better, though, and I'll miss it when it's gone.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:52 PM on January 18, 2012


someone who does produce stuff is going to do it on whatever device they have.

Well, not me. I recently made an attempt to get some productive work done on my new "smart" phone. Took me about ten minutes to figure out how to type a '|' character, and it requires about 8 steps. I've tried an iPad and thought maybe it'd be possible to get some work done... but it too is more painfully limited than I would like for any serious use.

However, I also don't understand how or why so many people put up with having only one monitor attached to their computers.
posted by sfenders at 12:57 PM on January 18, 2012


- drive a still bigger form factor, like a 50" t.v.

We can do that now, with Airplay mirroring. It is pretty neat!


You know, I thought about that, but I want the last six inches: You don't have to go press some little "Airplay" button. You just turn on your t.v. and it knows your Brain is there and uses it, with an interface appropriate to a t.v., so your experience is a seamless blend of your content and whatever's "on t.v." Sort of like what we have with AppleTV right now, if you tell it to talk to your laptops or desktops to share your libraries, but maybe without the added artificial "Mike's Mac" and "Al's Mac" menu entries.

Maybe your friends can even end up telling your t.v. that their Brains are legitimate members of the content pool when they're in range (and they can tell their Brains to share everything but the porn and Rebecca Black).

Also, the Brain would know if you had some game controllers laying around the room.
posted by mph at 12:59 PM on January 18, 2012


However, given that this is Apple we're talking about, it's reasonable to think it would not bother making tablets multi-user devices until it had developed an easy, tablet-appropriate way of switching between users.

I don't think we will ever see multi-user tablets, for the same reason we have never seen multi-user phones. I'm pretty certain that Apple (and Google for that matter) see tablets as single-user devices. The answer to people wanting to share a tablet, from their point of view is simply to sell them more tablets.

Secure logins, sure, corporates need that. Facial logins as ICS has may be part of that. Multi-user tablets, probably never.

OTOH multi-user systems like Apple TV or the XBOX, I think yes.
posted by bonehead at 1:02 PM on January 18, 2012


A multi-user option might be a good way to upsell people into buying a tablet with enough storage to store more than one person's files on, say, the 64GB version.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:05 PM on January 18, 2012


I don't think we will ever see multi-user tablets, for the same reason we have never seen multi-user phones.

FWIW, the second clause is only true in certain countries/cultures. In some places (IIRC the example I heard was either Indonesia or Malaysia), cell phones were/are kept in a basket by the front door at home and you just grab one when you leave.
posted by asterix at 1:06 PM on January 18, 2012


Someday, personal computing will be like KingDing and Brain, except instead of one KingDing and one Brain, you'll have KingDings of assorted statures and one Brain, which will fit in your pocket

And what if you lose it? What if it's stolen? What happens when a new version of the KingDing is eventually released and it's incompatible with your older Brain?

While I like your idea of a vast, interconnected mega-brain that lets no cycle go to waste, I see the trend towards cheaper, more disposable "dumb" devices which connect to centralized machines to provide access. Imagine something built around the Raspberry Pi that only has enough power to run the necessary software to remotely connect to a centralized server.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:08 PM on January 18, 2012


One of the interesting things that comes out of a discussion like this is that lots of the arguments imply that a PC can be defined by what it can do, but many of these defining attributes are things that we only started doing long after PCs were already around. It's really a testament to the PC and how much it changed the world, and also how long it has already stuck around.

For example, multitrack recording wasn't done on computers at all before the PC. I mean, maybe someone did it somewhere, but at the dawn of the PC basically everything was recorded onto magnetic tape as analog data. There was also essentially no digital photography or design. I know someone who used to design heavy metal album covers and he had a three-dimensional, mirror-covered Dokken logo that was used on one of their album covers because to do that, people actually made a physical model and photographed it with film.

Flash-forward a couple decades, and these are things that many people expect a PC to do, and see as aspects of what defines a PC. It's kind of fascinating. From a usage standpoint, what a computer does has changed so much it's astounding. In some ways, having a recognizable form factor is what helps us understand what is or is not a PC because how we use them and what they can actually DO has changed so much.

I anticipate that the arrival of new form factors will also create huge changes in how we think about computers. For example, integrated cameras probably became more popular in general because they were often integrated into phones (plus videoconferencing on non-mobile computers), but once you can assume that a computer has a camera, then that camera can be used for much more than taking photos or video.
posted by snofoam at 1:09 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nah, the facial recognition multi-user only works if you sign up for the $5.99 / month service, have access to the cloud where the recognized faces and access rights are stored, each person who needs to be recognized also has to have the $5.99 contract and has to sign a EULA enabling Apple to track their accesses, and doesn't work with any other non-Apple system.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:10 PM on January 18, 2012


It'll do it all wirelessly, and the desktop terminals will be the coolest because they'll work a lot like a SunRay, except instead of the semi-dumb terminal reaching out to a server to restore your desktop, it'll reach into your pocket after recognizing that you're standing next to it.

We're pretty close - Motorola has docks that turn your Android phone into either a full-featured laptop or a desktop, and as mentioned, Apple has Airplay for media. The next rev of Bluetooth or wireless USB will probably eliminate the need to dock the thing physically.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:11 PM on January 18, 2012


As far as multi-user tablets and phones, I guess I come from a privileged vantage point, but to me it seems like computers are also largely single-user devices in practice. I've never worked at a company where every employee that uses a computer doesn't have their own computer, and I think that the same is true in many homes. In many cases, I think one or both parents have their work laptop or their own personal laptop and maybe there's a desktop that is shared. But even for the shared desktop, I would guess that many families don't use multiple accounts, in which case it's the same as every time I see a parent checking their email on their phone or iPad and then handing it to their kid to play games on it.
posted by snofoam at 1:17 PM on January 18, 2012


And what if you lose it? What if it's stolen? What happens when a new version of the KingDing is eventually released and it's incompatible with your older Brain?


Well, if it's lost or stolen you could have the same situation you could have now: Everything is in Dropbox (or S3, or iCloud): Once the thing is missing you send a remote lock or wipe to the Brain. If you bought theft or general insurance for your Brain, you sync the replacement back up.

I don't mind thinking of my phone as the heart of the operation because it's probably the most physically secure thing I own. You'd have to be able to get it out of my pocket or out from under my pillow (I use a motion sensing alarm clock).

In terms of upgrade compatibility: Got me. Manufacturers can be bastards, can't they?

I don't know about a server-centric model (outside of storage and sync to handle clients bobbing on and off the 'net). Personally, I'd rather know that I always have full computational power with me and storage on an iTunes-Match-style "local cache of what you most likely need/most recently used" basis.
posted by mph at 1:22 PM on January 18, 2012


Everything becoming an iPad would be terrible for me.

It's nothing to do with the pads in general - it has everything to do with the fact that Apple takes 30% off the top for selling software on their iPad. If this were an open, fair and orderly system it might be worthwhile, but it seems frequently that it is not - that Apple refuses to approve software that competes with theirs, or simply decides that your otherwise functionally identical bugfix is not worth of acceptance, so you have no way to roll out a fix for a problem to your users.

Android and other similar services are quite different - I am not required to use their stores, if I want to give you a piece of software directly then I can do so.

I am frankly surprised that no governments have called them on this - and I hope they will if iPad adoption continues. I have no issues with them having their own store, their own walled garden, quality review, that's all fine by me. That I can't give you software for your phone - even for free! - without Apple being involved and having to approve seems blatantly anti-competitive and monopolistic.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:24 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're pretty close - Motorola has docks that turn your Android phone into either a full-featured laptop or a desktop, and as mentioned, Apple has Airplay for media. The next rev of Bluetooth or wireless USB will probably eliminate the need to dock the thing physically.

And you still only have a crippled approximation of a real pc trying to get it to do things it's not good at.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


My brother-in-law, a teacher's aid, hasn't used his MacBook in almost a year - everything is done from his iPad. It's ideal for reading student papers and journal articles.

As someone who thinks the fake dichotomy between iPads and laptops is retarded, I have to say this:

I read A LOT of journal articles, and the thought of using only an iPad to do it is downright frightening. Not only is the screen pathetically small, but some databases barely function AT ALL on an iPad.

What you meant to say is that using an iPad is ideal for your brother-in-law reading journal articles. It certainly is less than ideal for this researcher.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't need to record 8+ tracks at the same time to produce anything.

Yeah, totes, let's put a single mic on that drumkit, it should have a nice Indie Analog Tapedeck Legit sort of sound, or if we need more control over the mix, I can just record the snare drum, cymbals, each tom, and the ironic cowbell one after the other.

Actually, y'know, fuck it, let's just drop in a Garageband drum loop. Shit's hella money, yo. Chart toppaz high rollaz. (puts on neon shutter glasses) Dem knobz!


and countless people make "real" music all the time just one track at a time.

That doesn't mean that people who need more than one track at a time, or don't want to sit in a noisy Starbucks dicking around on an iPad, or feel constrained unless they are basking in the glow of dual 30-inch monitors, or prefer composing on an actual piano keyboard are any less numerous, relevant, or worthy of consideration. They're not just a dying breed of dinosaurs who "don't get it". They're the same kind of people who prefer writing music on PCs to synthesizer workstations or MPCs, even if it's true that it's easier to bring an MPC to a log cabin in the mountains.

I have written hours of music on a gameboy, so don't even start on me about portable creativity. I get it. But I also regularly write music with 100+ tracks, 2TB of virtual orchestra instrument libraries, and shit-tons of demanding synth plugins. It's super awesome that the iPad can handle simple recording and synthesis setups, and it's definitely possible to write an entire album with one, probably even from start to finish for a certain kind of lo-fi (possibly read: shitty) aesthetic. but I doubt it will be a suitable replacement for what I expect are the majority of recording musicians, for a very long time at least.

Telling me "you don't need that arm anyway, countless people do just fine with only one arm! You'll see! One-arming is the way of the future, you TWOSIES just don't get it!!" won't convince me to run out and get my arm lopped off, and I'd still be pretty pissed if I read an article saying "dual-armrested chairs are on the way out! LOOK AT THIS LOG GRAPH FOR PROOF"
posted by jake at 1:34 PM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've never worked at a company where every employee that uses a computer doesn't have their own computer

That doesn't mean they don't exist. For the two (quite large) retail companies I've worked for, each register (and hand-held terminal) was an individual computer connected via intranet to the store's inventory and accounting databases and via internet to the corporate database. Even though they were used as nothing more than glorified mainframe terminals (even sorting a small list of stock was handled by the server), they were still full-fledged computers.
posted by clorox at 1:37 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this shows there was an intensely strong demand for a Windows alternative...

I think it shows a strong demand for portable personal computers with long battery lives.

Probably the vast majority of people with home computers produce little or nothing on them

At the least they can produce email messages. Try THAT on a tablet or phone! (or what DU said ...)

Personal computing would be PC plus MacIntosh plus Ipads (on that graph) which is not even flat, much less declining.

I would include at least some portion of Android there as well.

... and come to think of it, how is using a smartphone or tablet for personal computing tasks any different than using a wireless laptop with a 4G connection?

SHENANIGANS!
posted by mrgrimm at 1:46 PM on January 18, 2012


THERE ARE NO TANKS iPADS IN BAGHDAD ENTERPRISE.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd still be pretty pissed if I read an article saying "dual-armrested chairs are on the way out! LOOK AT THIS LOG GRAPH FOR PROOF"

Good thing this isn't that article, then.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 PM on January 18, 2012


THERE ARE NO TANKS iPADS IN BAGHDAD ENTERPRISE.

really?
posted by modernnomad at 2:06 PM on January 18, 2012


I'm fine with reading pdfs on my tablet but I wouldn't want to manage xotero on one. Polaris office likewise is functional as a simple doc xls ppt editor. Way better than a phone. With a keyboard dock, not bad at all, ime.

Not good enough yet to replace a pc, a modern pc. It is about windows 3/system 6 level useful. I can see that even one or two more versions will change that. Apple needs to solve their file storage problem though.
posted by bonehead at 2:09 PM on January 18, 2012


BP: "I heard on the tech rumor sites that Apple will bring working face recognition to their devices as a way to address (family) sharing."

It sucks to be a twin …


… unless you're the evil twin!
posted by Pinback at 2:09 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK then, what's the big problem with the log scale? Especially as it's clearly indicated both by the chart's tick labels and the text?

(It seems to me that a linear scale would flatten most of the early history against the axis, compared to the huge volumes shipping today.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2012


I see this idea a lot... are other touchscreens very different from Apple's (I haven't ever noticed, but they might be)? You don't need to have small fingers to use one. You can mash the keyboard with any sized appendage and it will know that you wanted to type whatever key is in the middle of your finger. I suppose this could be a problem if you had um, bad aim, but you'd have the same issues on a real keyboard.

I can easily type over 100 wpm on a desktop or laptop (with a reasonably large keyboard) computer.

How fast can you type on ANY touchscreen tablet/phone (sans keyboard)?

I suppose this could be a problem if you had um, bad aim, but you'd have the same issues on a real keyboard.

HUH?! I don't even have to look at my "real" keyboard to use it.

"Pay at the very least $100 for a watered down Photoshop" or download Gimp and GET READY TO FEEL STUPID AND ANGRY.

Paint.NET

(Just imagining researching that URL, copying it, and pasting it into a MF post (using "a href=" of course, since the helper buttons won't work on most tablets) using an iPad gives me the chills.)

I type well enough that I never think 'I need to wait until I get on my mac'.

Interesting. Cuz that's exactly why I think when I read MF on a non-PC/Mac device. I read MF on desktop PC, laptop Mac, iPad, Kindle Fire, Droid X, and LG Android phone, yet I only post comments on desktop PC and laptop Mac. Even with the built-in keyboard on my LG phone, it's still too much of a hassle to write anything that's ... longer than a sentence. Or two. (The worst is when I hit the ALT button to add a symbol then decide to delete the last word ... and the whole line gets deleted ... with no UNDO!)

So, yes, it is possible to write more than a "sentence" on a touchscreen tablet/phone, but I'd say my rate at least 75% slower compared to a full keyboard. Shrug.

Anything longer than 140 characters really requires a full keyboard for me. I can't stand wasting the time typing ... this comment took me about 5-10 minutes to think about and write. On an iPad, it would take me at least 20.

I can be verbose. Look at my MF comment count. If each post took me 10 minutes more, that would be ... ~1,500 hours or ~60 days extra.

If I had to give up my mac or my iPhone for a month, I'd miss my iPhone much more.

but ... what about pornography?!

I do love tablets. I think they're great, and I can't wait for some reasonably priced open Android editions that let me install/remove whatever software I want whenever I want.

But I tend to see these tablets moving towards the PDA model, i.e. smaller and smaller and more integrated with people's daily lives (perhaps integrated with physical bodies), whereas something new (more hybridish) will replace the traditional desktop. IMO, it will HAVE to play DVDs and CDs, at least for the next 5-10 years, and, of course, come standard with a full-sized keyboard. Also Flash video, lol.

And then there are always PC games. I'm sure there will be some sort of new input device for tablet gaming, but I just can't imagine playing an RTS game (or Skyrim) on one. (I guess that's what xbox is for ...) I suppose we will see ...
posted by mrgrimm at 2:15 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Despite noise about a certain computer not being a "real" computer, what these graphs clearly communicate is 1) the diversity of personal computing options, and 2) the dramatic time shift in which that diversification has taken place. It's a bright future for computer users, and the noisy snobs are just upset at being left in the dust, as usual.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on January 18, 2012


The "tablets are only for consumption" meme is dead wrong. With a bluetooth keyboard, you have a full-fledged terminal with a web browser and nearly any creative technology you desire. If you need serious computation you hop on to Amazon Web Services or whatever. If you want to do word processing, type on your keyboard into your tablet word processing app. If you want to edit photos, go ahead and edit photos. If you need to fix a bug in your web app, SSH into your dev machine and fix it. If you need to write up your restaurant's daily menu, write it up, format it and print it off. If you want to go to a meeting and "consume" (did I type that derisively enough), leave the keyboard behind. Tablets are dumb terminals, and since the days of terminals on Unix mainframes, terminals have been used for all sorts of creation.

That enormous, power-hungry block of metal, plastic, and PCB on or near your desk is extremely wasteful, and only useful for a very small sliver of what is possible with computing systems. Of the computing that I've done in the past decade, which involves writing code and munging data all day, perhaps 1% of the compute cycles have been spent on a desktop computer, and that's going to get smaller and smaller as time goes on. And of that 1% that was done on a desktop, all could have been done on one of today's tablets.

A terminal is far more empowered than a single desktop machine. Sure, you can use your desktop computer as a terminal to the larger network, but the desktop form factor as your single computer is excessively limiting in terms of computing; there's only a small range of storage and compute capacities that it can embody. With virtualized computing, and commoditized compute and storage services, and a fast internet, even average non-technical users can use the full spectrum of computing. The web and Google's push with web apps made the 90s dream of thin clients nearly reachable, and with the latest round of mobile apps, thin clients really are here for the vast majority of computing uses, creative or "consumptive."

If you've only used Windows, and your primary "creative" activity is playing games on a GPU that cost as much or more than your CPU, then you have a very limited view of what's going on in the world, what has been possible since the early days of networked Unix, and where the world of computing is going. DOS' and Windows' simple computation model has not only held back the world from what is possible on a single machine, but it has also held back what is possible when you have a network of machines.
posted by Llama-Lime at 2:28 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sitting in an airport right now. I am typing this on my Air, which is currently plugged into my iPad so I can transfer over some Dubstep That Is Not Fucking Skrillex. The airport's wifi is free, so I'm not using my Nexus One to give myself some internetz, but it's sitting there in my bag.

When I travel, I routinely carry no less than three computing devices upon my person. When did I become a Homestuck character?

okay the line is actually five computers but whatever
posted by egypturnash at 2:30 PM on January 18, 2012


snofoam: “Also, Damon Albarn recorded the last Gorillaz album on his iPad on your lawn.”

mary8nne: “HA! right... somehow I think "recorded" is a bit of a stretch - the iPad doesn't even have a fully fledged multi-track recorder... more like sketched out a few rough Ideas on an iPad before going into the studio to record it all properly and have it mixed and mastered professionally in ProTools on some massive over-powered PC or Mac”

Who the hell uses a "multi-track recorder" to make an album anymore? Seriously, that seems very passe. Most stuff on albums now is synthesized and processed so much that recording it in realtime to separate tracks seems really passe, even for a rock band. The thing to do is record tracks separately and just work with them together – and there are MANY apps on the iPad for doing that. (The one I use is limited to 16 tracks, but there are apps with a lot more than that.)

Here is a list of the apps Damon Albarn apparently used to create the Gorillaz album The Fall. And here is a song that is probably a good sample of what it sounds like. Could you make this kind of stuff solely on an iPad? I think you probably could. But maybe somebody else can correct me on that.
posted by koeselitz at 2:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The web and Google's push with web apps made the 90s dream of thin clients nearly reachable

That's the problem, exactly: the thin client world is not a dream, but a nightmare, where everything you do is subject to the control of some giant unaccountable corporation. The ipad is a tragedy precisely because it makes that dystopian world the most appealing one for most people.
posted by Mars Saxman at 2:44 PM on January 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Telling me "you don't need that arm anyway, countless people do just fine with only one arm! You'll see! One-arming is the way of the future, you TWOSIES just don't get it!!" won't convince me to run out and get my arm lopped off...

In the context of this thread, there was the claim that iPads are consumption devices, the response that you actually can record music on one, the response that "no, that doesn't count," and some folks saying, "yes, actually, you can." No one said it's just as good as a high-end DAW, so don't worry, no one's going to try to take yours away.

I think one could totally argue that with some limitations, an iPad can contain the equivalent of a Tascam 4-track, SK-1 and a bunch of guitar pedals. In reality, it's probably much more versatile than that.
posted by snofoam at 2:51 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's the problem, exactly: the thin client world is not a dream, but a nightmare, where everything you do is subject to the control of some giant unaccountable corporation. The ipad is a tragedy precisely because it makes that dystopian world the most appealing one for most people.
It's fallacious to assume that one will be subjecting oneself to another's control. If that's what you want to do, and you want to use Facebook and Google for everything, that's your choice, but I'm living in this world with complete control of my own data and without relying on other corporations. And that's why it doesn't matter if your terminal is Windows-based or Apple-based or Linux-based, or even if your terminal is a hermetically sealed and un-programmable piece of plastic, because it's just the terminal.
posted by Llama-Lime at 3:04 PM on January 18, 2012


I only ask because some of these comments are downright Baghdad Bob-esque.
The idea that you could have a more clear vision of the future of computing and that everyone else is delusional is, well, delusional. It's not possible to predict the future of this kind of thing with much clarity.

Personally, I don't really get why there should be a line between "PC" and "Phone". The only difference is the locked down nature, but an unlocked phone can do everything a PC can, so why call them different things? A lot of android devices have HDMI output. With a bluetooth keyboard/mouse and a large monitor how is an android phone any different then desktop PC?

Devices are getting cheaper and cheaper, variety and diversity of platforms are the future, not one crushing the other (although, Microsoft is fucked, for sure)
Agreed. The idea that you can only send out small sentences on a phone is silly. I don't type as well on my iPhone as I do on my mac, but I type well enough for email, small blog posts, etc. I type well enough that I never think 'I need to wait until I get on my mac'.
Actually, if I have anything long to write on my android phone, I use voice recognition. It works really well, and in ICS it streams text back as you talk, which is awesome. Also, my phone has a physical keyboard anyway, but I find myself using dictation over sliding it out most of the time.
So, yes, it is possible to write more than a "sentence" on a touchscreen tablet/phone, but I'd say my rate at least 75% slower compared to a full keyboard. Shrug.
I can definitely talk faster then I can type, and I can type really fast. But, right now it's still somewhat cumbersome. If I talk to much, I end up with too much text I have to go back and check (it's not perfect by far), with streaming text and the ability to do corrections using speech commands, it could be faster then typing on a querty board. Some people do use software like dragon dictate on their computers for general text input.
You know, I thought about that, but I want the last six inches: You don't have to go press some little "Airplay" button. You just turn on your t.v. and it knows your Brain is there and uses it, with an interface appropriate to a t.v., so your experience is a seamless blend of your content and whatever's "on t.v." Sort of like what we have with AppleTV right now, if you tell it to talk to your laptops or desktops to share your libraries, but maybe without the added artificial "Mike's Mac" and "Al's Mac" menu entries.
Actually, it's more likely that everything will be cloud based. Instead of having a 'brain' on your person, you just use any device to access your personal environment on the cloud.

If you care more about privacy then ease of use, you'll probably still have to configure stuff.
posted by delmoi at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's fallacious to assume that one will be subjecting oneself to another's control.

It is not an assumption, but an observation. I'm not predicting the future, but describing the present. People who rely on third-party "cloud" services to store their stuff are, in fact, allowing some external entity to control their data. That's what a "cloud service" is. If the company who runs those servers decides to change their privacy policies, what are you going to do about it? If the company goes out of business, what are you going to do about it? And even if you like the company today, what are you going to do if they sell out tomorrow, and the new owners aren't as friendly?

These are not abstract concerns; all of these things have happened, and will continue to happen, because that's the nature of business.

The data on my computer is under my control. It is stored on a physical device which is located in my apartment. I control the interface to that device, so nobody can prevent me from getting to the data, or share it with a third party without my consent. This is worth quite a lot of convenience to me.

but I'm living in this world with complete control of my own data and without relying on other corporations.

Ok great, so you're still using your PC, you've just got it physically located somewhere else. PCs are still cheap and plentiful, so that's easy enough to do. What happens in five or ten years, when the majority of the market is composed of client-only tablets and phones, and PCs are no longer a commodity product?
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:55 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article is really making the rounds. The statistician Andrew Gelman has some very nice things to say about the graphs, and this is the first time I've seen him compliment the visual display of information rather than critique it.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one said it's just as good as a high-end DAW, so don't worry, no one's going to try to take yours away.

A lot of people seem to be heading toward that sentiment. Stuff like this:

Who the hell uses a "multi-track recorder" to make an album anymore? Seriously, that seems very passe. Most stuff on albums now is synthesized and processed so much that recording it in realtime to separate tracks seems really passe, even for a rock band.


koeselitz, I respect your views in many other threads and enjoy reading what you write, but you're just absolutely wrong here. Simultaneous multitrack recording (in the sense of a computer workstation with a large number of inputs) is still VERY much in widespread use, it's anything but "passe". Your use of handwavey terms like "synthesized and processed" lead me to believe that you don't actually know what you're talking about. I'm sorry to be so harsh about it, but I can't stress enough that what's good enough for casual or semi-pro hobbyists is not necessarily good enough for professionals, even if certain professionals make a conscious choice (whether it's aesthetic or artistic, or they just want a change of pace) to use casual / semi-pro hobbyist tools.

Hey, "most stuff on albums" being done in-the-box is certainly true for some albums, especially the kind of stuff that is showing up on Beatport and Soundcloud. Conventional studio recording is neither dead nor "on its way out", though, and you need serious outboard gear (including high quality converters and preamps so what you're recording doesn't sound like shit, and other basic sound reinforcement) for that, unless you are specifically shooting for a "basement studio" aesthetic... which not everyone is.

I'm sure this is also the case for video production where there are terabytes of data in play at any moment, but that's outside my sphere of expertise so I'm not going to argue it.

But the argument for tablet-as-dumb-terminal works great until you take latency into account. Sorry, I can't run 30 instances of a software synth on "Amazon Cloud Computing", because when I play a part on a keyboard, I need it to make a sound within 5 milliseconds every single time. I agree that for many creative disciplines the future could mean sharing computer cycles somewhere other than in the studio, but almost certainly not for music production. I mean shit, even Pro Tools farms and DSP cards were too inconvenient for a lot of folks, and now are mostly unnecessary because we have fuckoff-powered CPUs.
posted by jake at 4:21 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What happens in five or ten years, when the majority of the market is composed of client-only tablets and phones, and PCs are no longer a commodity product?

In five or ten years, in the unlikely event that the market for PC type computers is a tenth or twentieth the size that it is now, they will still be commodity items sold in extremely large numbers. If you want to run your own server at home, it will be an expensive proposition, just as it is today.

It's not that desktop computers will ever go away entirely, but they will not be the primary way of performing computing tasks. If you need specialized computing systems to create, so be it, but it's not as though a tablet is useless for creative tasks, or even most creative tasks that are currently performed.
posted by Llama-Lime at 4:33 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


What happens in five or ten years, when the majority of the market is composed of client-only tablets and phones, and PCs are no longer a commodity product?

Because I do not believe that (keyboard-capable) tablets and phones will be offering the same or fewer features, functionality and interface, 5-10 years from now, I think what happens is that whatever replaces commodity PCs will be better than PCs and become commodities in their own right. That's assuming Cory Doctorow's worst-case scenario actually happens and all the PCs are taken away, which pretty much guarantees that the future will be rosy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2012


jake: "Simultaneous multitrack recording (in the sense of a computer workstation with a large number of inputs) is still VERY much in widespread use, it's anything but "passe"."

Magnetic tape is still rolling. Vacuum tubes still glow and occasionally catch fire. Massive Leslie speakers still rotate their speaker cones in cabinets the size of a chest freezer. Recording engineers and musicians don't really have a habit of abandoning obsolete technology if it makes the right sound.
posted by stet at 4:51 PM on January 18, 2012


Actually, it's more likely that everything will be cloud based. Instead of having a 'brain' on your person, you just use any device to access your personal environment on the cloud.


Your stuff might live up there, but something has to process it locally and people seem to want that something to come in a number of form-factors. That's what the Brain's for. It's a CPU, GPU and enough local storage to keep you from needing to constantly hit the cloud. It's "any device," but you can also use "any car" to get on the highway: People still prefer to choose their cars based on individual preferences. I'm sure there will be gaming brains, business-class brains, entry-level brains, premium brains, etc.

But what we do right now — a CPU and GPU and the attendant energy, cooling and space requirements for every one of our computing devices — is wasteful, and becoming more so as the demand for continual improvements to raw processing power slackens, especially among general purpose users. It's telling to me that my MacBook Air feels better than an iMac with double the clock speed, pretty much on the strength of the Air's SSD. I thought I'd have to nurse the Air along, but I run most of the same apps, do the same coding and generally pay it no mind. I'm pretty sure I could plug it into a decent desktop display and just use it, but I stick to my iMac during work hours because it's got a pair of 24" displays.

Were I to kick the iMac to the curb, I'd still have a nice display to hook the Air up to, and at that point, the Air would be my "Brain." In another two years, an iPhone will easily match my current Air's raw processing power, and could just as easily hook up to a monitor. Why not finish the job of disconnecting computing power from form factor?
posted by mph at 5:10 PM on January 18, 2012


Simultaneous multitrack recording (in the sense of a computer workstation with a large number of inputs) is still VERY much in widespread use, it's anything but "passe".

Yes, I totally agree. I didn't really notice the derail about multitrack recording being unnecessary, which is wrong. My point in the thread was that a tablet or smartphone can be a very functional device for creation, including recording music, certainly wasn't meant to imply that other tools aren't still necessary, depending on what you're doing. The invention of cassette four-tracks certainly didn't mean that bands stopped using real studios.

At the same time, it seems likely that there will eventually be multitrack D/A converters that work with tablets at some point. We can't be far off from tablets that have more processing power than the first professional pro-tools rigs. Phantom power may be a problem, though.
posted by snofoam at 5:44 PM on January 18, 2012


In five or ten years, in the unlikely event that the market for PC type computers is a tenth or twentieth the size that it is now, they will still be commodity items sold in extremely large numbers. If you want to run your own server at home, it will be an expensive proposition, just as it is today.
Really depends on what you mean by 'server'. If it's just a fileserver, the hardware on a cellphone can do that, easily. Even a database server, probably. The real issue will just be the disks. But nowadays you can get 'external hard drives' that you can plug right into a network.
Your stuff might live up there, but something has to process it locally and people seem to want that something to come in a number of form-factors. That's what the Brain's for. It's a CPU, GPU and enough local storage to keep you from needing to constantly hit the cloud. It's "any device," but you can also use "any car" to get on the highway: People still prefer to choose their cars based on individual preferences. I'm sure there will be gaming brains, business-class brains, entry-level brains, premium brains, etc.
It depends on how fast the internet connection is. If you've got enough to stream HD video, then you really can do everything serverside. It gets even better when you can compress the data for the UI with UI specific encoding (like RDP). People are already doing real-time 3D gaming over the cloud using onlive and other stuff (if you hit stop quick enough you can read it)
posted by delmoi at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2012


What happens in five or ten years, when the majority of the market is composed of client-only tablets and phones, and PCs are no longer a commodity product?

You can still buy an IBM mainframe today. The only reason traditional PCs would disappear is if everything they do today is done better by some other device, in which case there is no problem. I also don't understand what you mean by "client-only" tablets and phones. Does such a thing even exist? How is something client-only when I don't need to connect it to anything to utilize its computing power?
posted by snofoam at 5:58 PM on January 18, 2012


Anyway, cloud computing isn't the problem. What I want is my own cloud server for all of my stuff that I, personally, control. But the options there are very sparse. I use a small server for storing version controlled code, and it works great. You can host your own email. I'd love something like "google docs for your server" or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 6:01 PM on January 18, 2012


many people who seem to be knowledgeable about computers can't seem to see what's going on.

What's going on: people who can't type or figure out how to set the clock on a VCR finally have computers they can get tight with.
posted by Twang at 6:12 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In a way, computing paradigms seem to shift from centralized to decentralized. There were mainframes with terminals, then sufficient processing power to use desktop PCs, then networking became widespread and the (stillborn) idea of thin clients came into vogue and eventually some things shifted to "the cloud." I think the future will increasingly be a best of both worlds scenario where the power of individual devices increases and the improved networking of devices allows them to utilize the combined computing power of the available devices. So a smartphone, a PC and a smart TV will all be able to utilize their combined processing power, as well as that of remote datacenters.
posted by snofoam at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2012


jake: "koeselitz, I respect your views in many other threads and enjoy reading what you write, but you're just absolutely wrong here. Simultaneous multitrack recording (in the sense of a computer workstation with a large number of inputs) is still VERY much in widespread use, it's anything but "passe". Your use of handwavey terms like "synthesized and processed" lead me to believe that you don't actually know what you're talking about. I'm sorry to be so harsh about it, but I can't stress enough that what's good enough for casual or semi-pro hobbyists is not necessarily good enough for professionals, even if certain professionals make a conscious choice (whether it's aesthetic or artistic, or they just want a change of pace) to use casual / semi-pro hobbyist tools."

Look, I was exaggerating a bit, but my point was that there is a whole swath of music out there that doesn't demand multitrack recording in any way, a swath of music that is growing steadily and has been for decades. And the fact that people hear 'someone made an album on an ipad!' and say 'nonsense, iPads don't even have a full multitrack recorder!' indicates to me that they don't understand the musical workflow of an astonishing amount of music nowadays. In short, it's an assumption that all actual music is only made by bands with physical acoustical instruments that sit around in a room playing together.
posted by koeselitz at 6:17 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this nonsense reminds of when marketers were trying to sell the wisdom that "ZOMG PDAs are dying!" as if the smartphone was some separate alien thing.

The only place the PC is going is to a jail where you don't necessarily have the freedom to install whatever software you want.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:24 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the likelihood of me buying a desktop computer in the future is about the same as me ordering more checks from my bank.

Well with the millions of people we have in the world, in various countries, even in various cities it's a very diverse world and market. I have an Android tablet, an Android phone, a Linux netbook, and a Windows PC with a 30" monitor. The likelihood of me not updating my desktop in a few years to take advantage of more speed and more storage for production work on a large screen is about the same as me loving Nickelback.

The desktop will be around for years to come. There is a market for it now and there will be a market for it in the future. It's not like desktop cpus are static. I love all the technology but I have very hard time believing that people have the money to replace everything with more powerful tablets that come out (assuming they'll surpass the speed of desktops at the time which seems unlikely) unless they come down in price, massively.

As a production medium for me personally, tablets don't cut it. This doesn't mean I don't believe therefore that they can't cut it for others. I can see and believe that a tablet or 2 or 5 will be just dandy for many people. This does not mean the desktop is therefore dead or dying. We are diverse. So is the market. I do a lot of project management stuff on my tablet when I'm (not surprisingly) mobile. In the office I don't touch it.

With the way bandwidth limits and high speed Internet pricing is going in North America, I don't see the Cloud being a superbly amazing means of storage at the moment. My backups run about a terrabyte locally now (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and other source production files can be rather large, particularly when saving them and keeping them over the years) and I'd love to be able to have that in a secure cloud space somewhere in case of theft or my place goes up in flames but I can't afford the cost of doing so.

As for Albarn, he did indeed release a disc with songs composed on an iPad. His Democrazy disc was recorded on a 4-track I think. I'm willing to bet he'll be making studio albums for years to come as well.
posted by juiceCake at 6:24 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The desktop will be around for years to come.

I totally agree. I was just saying that I don't think I will ever buy one again. Right now, I find a laptop to be fine for recording music, editing photos and working with video. Right now I also can't give up my laptop and work with my 200GB Lightroom library on a tablet. I can imagine, though, that at some point maybe I would choose to do so once the technology catches up to where I need it to be for what I am doing.
posted by snofoam at 6:49 PM on January 18, 2012


What's going on: people who can't type or figure out how to set the clock on a VCR finally have computers they can get tight with.
I don't know if you remember, but setting the clock on a VCR is probably a bit more difficult then using windows. You had to push a bunch of buttons in a completely non-intuitive way.

The problem though is the feeling of ownership. People who don't know how to use computers feel like they're floating on a sort of incomprehensible surface, where one knock to the 'boat' can send them crashing into DOS, or at least screw up their computer.

With simplified tablet UIs, they don't feel like there's anything they can do that will seriously screw up the machine. That probably makes them feel more comfortable exploring the different features. Who knows.

That doesn't mean that these devices are super-easy to use. There's a strong amplification of voices of people saying "oh, this iwhatever is easy to use" but you don't hear the same amplification of people who have trouble with them. Ellen did a sketch on her show about how hard it was for her to figure out her iPhone, apple complained and made her apologize (I guess they're a sponsor?)
All this nonsense reminds of when marketers were trying to sell the wisdom that "ZOMG PDAs are dying!" as if the smartphone was some separate alien thing.
Yeah like I said. I don't really get why people want to say "The PC is dying" when really a computer is a computer.

I guess it has something to do with Mac users who still have a bug up their ass about "The PC" from the '90s who now want to claim that they've "won" or something.
The likelihood of me not updating my desktop in a few years to take advantage of more speed and more storage for production work on a large screen is about the same as me loving Nickelback.
The thing is though, I haven't upgraded my machine since '08, other then adding some RAM early on and a video card more recently. So right now I have an 8-core machine with 12g of ram, and a Radeon 6970 graphics card. More then enough to handle anything I might want to throw at it. I actually got an SSD a while ago, but I didn't feel like re-installing my OS and it was too small to restore from a backup of my old hard drive.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 PM on January 18, 2012


I refuse to be a slave to a device that can fall into the toilet.

I told my children not to text me; I am opting out of this 'second wave' technology. Mobiles/handhelds/iphones are 'intermediate technology' -- they are just place-holders until the real tech innovation comes along (as like FAX was before the internet). I'm waiting for the neuro-implants myself.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:27 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the the school district where I do IT iPads are rapidly replacing desktops and laptops. The last tech buy showed a nearly 60% increase in iPad preference. Students and teachers do not use most of the capabilities of full blown pc's. Plus, schools can can get 2 iPads for the price of 1 laptop. Note the Apple event today introducing e pub replacements of traditional text books as well.
posted by judson at 7:24 AM on January 19, 2012


If you're going to use an iPad to take notes in class or otherwise do a lot of text entry, you'll want a keyboard. Once you add a keyboard to it, how is the iPad substantially different than your average laptop? It has a slightly more annoying (or more desirable; ymmv) form factor and is locked down to whatever software Apple has decided to give its blessing to. That does not seem to me like a change for the better, but it's not the end of the world either. It's just another portable computer, more popular than most and not much more flawed than average.

If the PC is ever going to die, I expect it might instead be the result of Microsoft accidentally killing it while flailing around trying to protect their increasingly tenuous position.
posted by sfenders at 8:19 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing is though, I haven't upgraded my machine since '08, other then adding some RAM early on and a video card more recently. So right now I have an 8-core machine with 12g of ram, and a Radeon 6970 graphics card. More then enough to handle anything I might want to throw at it. I actually got an SSD a while ago, but I didn't feel like re-installing my OS and it was too small to restore from a backup of my old hard drive.

Hence why I said in a few years. Desktops can last for quite a long time. Historically I'm on about a 5 year cycle but not from necessity but rather just wanting something quicker.

I too added an SSD (2 in fact) and put the OS on one and applications on another. It's fabulously quick.
posted by juiceCake at 8:20 AM on January 19, 2012


If the PC is ever going to die, I expect it might instead be the result of Microsoft accidentally killing it while flailing around trying to protect their increasingly tenuous position.

I'm confused by Microsoft being in trouble with over 400 million and counting Windows 7 licenses sold. This is terrible?
posted by juiceCake at 8:33 AM on January 19, 2012


They're far from "in trouble", but obviously they're slowly losing their former position of "monopoly". Microsoft has enormous power and market share, of course. That would be the source of the potential problem if they get too excessively stupid and evil.
posted by sfenders at 9:25 AM on January 19, 2012


Microsoft is as strong as ever. It seems like people think that they are about to file Chapter 11 because if they only read tech blogs, those tech blogs are all on the telephone bandwagon. MS's phones are clearly not a market leader, so it may seem to people that the rest of MS is down the tubes as well.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:51 AM on January 19, 2012


Microsoft is strong, but not as strong as ever. Their revenue growth has great decreased in the last few years, leading to Forbes saying they have stalled. Sure, it is a bad time for lots of people. But the problem is that new markets have opened up; search, mobile, tablets, social and MS has not been able to significantly penetrate any of them. So while it is clear they'll be able to milk their existing business for quite some time to come, it is not clear at all that they have any successful plan for growth. A non-growing MS will *significantly* affect their value and how they do business, which is based on an infinite growth model.

So, yah, they aren't in Chapter 11. But, at the same time, they are looking like a has-been. A rich has-been, but a has-been all the same. Still, they recovered a respectable portion of the server market, and saved the desktop from the internet once, and Bing has decent tech, so maybe they can still go. IMO, though, only if they dump Ballmer.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:28 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know if you remember, but setting the clock on a VCR is probably a bit more difficult then using windows. You had to push a bunch of buttons in a completely non-intuitive way.

Remember?! I have one. What else do you watch your VHS tapes on?!?!

Menu->Settings->Clock->Set->Set Manual Time->Set Date->Set Hour->Set Minute->Set AM/PM->Return.

That's iPhone easy (OK, maybe Android easy.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2012


Here's another music toy, not for use by real music people.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:16 PM on January 19, 2012


I understand Microsoft doesn't monopolize the desktop in some sort of way, though the numbers, it might be argued, would say otherwise, but with sales of one application alone that dwarf the sales of other items, like tablets in the same period I don't see how they are flailing around. Their desktop OS sales are rather large and this means the desktop is on the way out?

Now I made reference to them in regard to the desktop. They're phone presence is not to good to say the least and frankly any other search engine is dwarfed by Google. Doesn't make them a has been in the desktop arena but frankly I could care less who continues and who is a has been. That's the way of industry. At one point we had way more options in this area, now we have fewer, and tablets are reminding me of the old days of it only works on your Amiga, your DOS box, your Mac, your Tandy, etc, though it has quickly become clear that iOS and Android are dominating WebOS. We'll see how Windows 8 tablet does.

I have loved the move to open file formats and the open web and tablets threaten that to an extent.
posted by juiceCake at 3:25 PM on January 19, 2012


Actually when i said "Multitrack Recorder" I actually meant more Multitrack Playback / Mixing / DAW. Te iPad doesn't really have a fully fledged DAW.

And Hence I beleive Damon Albarn probably used an ipad for generating a lot of these sounds /parts / synths, drum patterns. but then recorded them / dumped them into a Hi-End Protools system where it was 'arranged' and Mixed / EQed / Mastered etc..

ie he used the iPad more like an 'instrument' but was still heavily reliant on a Digital Audio Workstation for putting all the finishing polish on the album.

I'm not saying that you can't possibly cobble together something using a 4 track garage band like app in the iPad itself - but its just not going to sound as 'professional' as a mainstream pop album - and for someone like Albarn then anything he does is going to be run through the Pro-studio Mixing / mastering black box before it sees the light of day and those guys can work wonders. is it still an iPad albm if you ran it all through a few $2000 compressors and a NEVE console?
posted by mary8nne at 2:03 AM on January 29, 2012


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