Are you reading this on your smartphone or tablet right now? Do you even still use a laptop or desktop computer at home? There's a growing group of us who hardly touch a computer any longer, happy to rely upon our handheld devices for all our computing needs. Sure, mobile devices still have limitations, but for a large majority of the things we do, mobile devices are proving the death of personal computers.
ABC recently listed their Five Reasons PC Sales Have Taken a Noise Dive, and while we generally agree (mostly with 1 and 4), we'd like submit our own commentary about the decline of the personal computer...and a few options for migrating yourself.
1. The iPad and other tablets are eating into the PC market.
2. Windows 8 is a confusing, unfamiliar and scary place.
3. Windows 8 hardware is flawed.
4. Where are the netbooks? PCs are too expensive now.
5. People are just not upgrading that much anymore.
Think about what you use your computer for, both at home and at work. At work, are you sending e-mails, using a word processor or spreadsheet? Perhaps you're running accounting software or photo editing? Free time is probably spent surfing the web - perusing Facebook, searching for recipes, watching cat antics videos, etc. So when you're not at work, what would you use your computer for? Personal e-mail? Gaming? Corresponding with friends? More Facebook?
Consider just this year more people used Facebook on a mobile device than on computer browsers. All of your web browsing, Facebook, and other such casual usage has migrated over to mobile devices. Smartphones and tablets fit snugly into your hand, are portable, and are now often connected to increasingly fast networks for speedy upload/downloads.
While PC games used to boast the best graphics and in-depth game play, the rise of powerful video game console systems brought amazing graphics and depth to your living room and a more casual environment, rendering the PC an older hardcore gaming geek's niche (albeit a profitable one, with the subscription based model capturing quite a few dollars, if an in-industry report is to be believed).
Similarly, the rise of tablets simplified gaming and brought focus back easy-to-engage gameplay which was lacking in modern console and PC titles, additionally fueled by impulse level purchase prices of .99 cents and up of the likes Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.
There's a good possibility you write the majority of your e-mail from your mobile device also now. With instant connectivity and notification from anywhere, you can whip out a response right away from your phone. And who's even using e-mail anymore? With the original growth of instant messaging and now text messaging, e-mail has been relegated to the workforce and more complex messaging tasks.
So everything keeps coming back to the mobile device that's probably sitting in your pocket or nearby on-hand. Sure, we'll probably always need a laptop or desktop for specific complex tasks (anybody who has tried working on a spreadsheet or done advanced photo editing on a tablet or smartphone has experienced a most horrific torture), however the way we use computers itself has evolved with many of us preferring the immediacy and portability of an app loaded smartphone or tablet.
For those of us still clinging to our desktop computers - and I'm one of them for sure - there's hope for us yet. There are some really helpful apps offering traditional complex desktop applications with a smartphone screen optimized interface available. Here are a few we recommend checking out:
Productivity: Apps like Work+ and My Writing Spot are good examples of task-oriented apps with a fine tuned UI and features from the desktop filtered down for use on a mobile screen. Working with Microsoft Word docs can be challenging even on a desktop, with all the "smart" features getting in the way, but word editing apps like Write 2 for iOS and My Writing Spot for Android fill in well when you need to bang out a few paragraphs while out and about.
Spreadsheets: Users can abandon Excel for basic functionality with mobile apps such as GRID, while there's also a plethora of money management apps and personal finance tools that transition accounting duties solely on the desktop to mobile devices. And as many already know, you can file your taxes from your mobile device.
Apartment Hunting: You don't to be tethered at home to a computer to hunt for apartments any longer; having mobile listing apps like Lovely and Apartment Guide make much more sense while driving around to visit potential future homes. Browse the Craigslist classifieds from bed or catch up on the news anytime, anywhere.
Inventory Lists: If you're tackling the task of taking inventory for insurance purposes, it's going to be way easier walking around your home with a mobile device and app like Home Inventory rather than a laptop. A perfect use for your mobile device is when you're trying to find a gas station, parking, ATM, and public bathroom.
(Images: Shutterstock/Appolinaria, Shutterstock/D. Hammond; as linked above)