Personal Computers, They Are A' Changing

We are in the midst of a bit of a sea change in the computers we use every day. It's not anything to be alarmed about - it takes a while for a big ship to change course - but it is happening as surely as night follows day. Of course, there is no "final destination" - technology does not work like that. However, the direction is shifting away from desktop and laptop computers to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

That's a concern to computer hardware manufacturers like Dell and HP, who are struggling to change their course to match the new public love of mobile devices. Even within the market, there are noticeable trends; Apple's share of computers costing more than $1,000 is now over 90%, and while Windows still outsells Apple's OS X by a factor of around 20, the actual disparity is the smallest it has ever been over the last 8-10 years.

I believe the trend to mobile computing is simply due to the fact that the vast majority of people only want or need to do a few things on a computing device. If they can carry an "always connected" device with them, start it and shut it off quickly, and get things done by poking at a couple of colorful icons, then what's not to like about that?

The interesting things is that tablet computers are not new: Apple brought the tablet back from the technology wasteland with their super-slick iPad, now in it's third iteration and still selling like hotcakes - Apple sold 3 million new iPads over the weekend after the launch of the latest version of the device.

Even Microsoft had tried and failed at "tablet computing" in the past. Most people don't realize that, because there was so little interest at the time, but there was a tablet version of Windows XP! Spurred on by Apple and the Android devices, they jumped back in with both feet via Windows 8 and the recently announced Surface devices.

The competition is fierce, price is king (except for iPads - they seem to be largely immune to cost concerns) and a rather ugly battle is continually being waged between Apple and Google's Android operating system, which is used on the vast majority of non-Apple smartphones and tablets. Apple is protecting it's turf like a mama bear would protect her cubs.

But for consumers - just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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