“The PC is dead – long live the PC”, says a headline in one of the recent issues of the Economist. There has also been talk of the post-PC era – a world of cellphones, PDAs and other function-specific devices. Combine this with the hammering that technology stocks have taken worldwide and it may easy to forget the impact computers have had (and continue to have) on our lives.
As the processing power of computers has grown and prices have fallen, it has created a force which continues to revolutionise the lives of individuals and businesses. Even if the US market may be saturated, another generation in emerging markets like China, India, Mexico and Brazil is only now waking up to the power of the computer. In many of these markets, rather than the computer being owned by a family, it is likely to become a shared resource – for use by the community.
The PC revolution is by no means over. With bandwidth now becoming a commodity in many parts of the world and growing faster than processing power, the LAN-WAN speed disconnect will go away. With a Gigabit Ethernet and fibre to the desktop (or doorstep), a world of distributed computing and peer-to-peer applications promises to unleash a new era of innovation in software applications.
In India, a base of 4-5 million computers is still too insignificant (1 computer for every 200-250 people). But it is the computer software era which has made a force to reckon with worldwide. The software boom is now fueling the dreams of the next generation – a world of IT-enabled services, powered by India.
Summarises the Economist:
Nothing else can keep up with the pace of innovation on the Internet. What was once text, graphics and simple interactivity has become rich media: music, video, animation, instant messaging, net telephony, radio and more, in many different formats. Only the PC, with its horsepower and flexibility, can (just about) evolve fast enough to accommodate these changes.
Here’s a crazy thought: in my house, we have 2 PCs, 3 TVs, 4 telephone lines and 8 telephone instruments. What we probably need is a PC server (an “information furnace”) to tie these various devices together over an IP network so I can have access to the Net from the kitchen, or store my favourite TV programmes on a disk, and perhaps have the server control various other appliances in the house. Indeed, the PC will live on!