PCs and Copper Wiring Continue to Fade

Carl Weinschenk

It seemed like a long week--especially compared to the short holiday week that preceded it. It also was a week in which there was a lot of news and valuable commentary.

The Death of the PC, Continued

It’s well established that the PC world is shrinking. It’s a bit surprising how quickly and dramatically it is happening, though. This week, both Gartner and IDC reported their second quarter PC shipment numbers.

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Gartner found that 76 million units shipped worldwide during the second quarter. That’s 10.9 percent less than the same period a year ago. The firm also pointed out that Dell’s rate of growth declined compared to previous quarters.

IDC followed Gartner with even more dire tidings. The firm said that the PC market lost 11.4 percent against the year-ago quarter. The report said that Lenovo has passed HP and that the results were a little better than expected.

Copper Aging Out of Networks

The copper wiring upon which the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure was built is slowly fading away, despite technical advances aimed at expanding its capacity. It is being replaced by wireless, the cable industry’s coaxial cable and fiber optics. Here is an interesting AP story that describes a bit about the not completely smooth transition. This excerpt gives a good example from the New Jersey shore, where Superstorm Sandy expedited the process:

Mantoloking is one of the first places in the country where the traditional phone line is going dead. For now, Verizon, the country's second-largest landline phone company, is taking the lead by replacing phone lines with wireless alternatives. But competitors including AT&T have made it clear they want to follow. It's the beginning of a technological turning point, representing the receding tide of copper-wire landlines that have been used since commercial service began in 1877.


The biggest challenges will come in areas with poor cell reception. The bottom line is clear, however: The high cost of copper wiring along with the ever-smaller portion of people who use it means that copper will fade away.

Learning From the Terrorism Battle

Continuity Central this week posted a report from KPMG that looks at how the fight against terrorism can aid companies in the parallel struggle against cyber attacks. The site quotes Malcolm Marshall, KPMG partner and head of its Protection & Business Resilience team. He says that the awareness of cyber security threats is a good thing, but that fundamental intelligence management techniques must be implemented to make use of the information that is gathered.

The site provides a link to the 10-page report titled “Cyber Threat Intelligence and the Lessons from Law Enforcement.”

Microsoft Still Struggling to Get it Right

There was a lot of buzz this week about the reorganization of Microsoft. Reuters does a good job of highlighting the changes. Structurally, the company will move what the story describes as “business-oriented functions such as marketing and research” to separate units, allowing the folks who develop products to operate more freely.

Mobile, of course, is the key, and changes are coming for the iconic company. Reuters reporter Alexei Oreskovic suggests that a more pragmatic platform is being built:

Development of Windows will now be folded into one group headed by Terry Myerson. He had previously focused only on Windows Phone and now has responsibility for tailoring the flagship operating software for devices ranging from the traditional PC to tablets and gaming consoles.

Power From the People

And finally, a story from ExtremeTech touches on something that I’ve thought about often. There is enough ambient activity around us--ocean waves, wind, people walking and myriad other human and natural things--to create a tremendous amount of energy. Why rely on fossil fuel to drive home from the gym after generating loads of energy on the exercise equipment?

This movement can drive communications networks. The story says that academics are taking this idea seriously:

Researchers at Columbia University have conducted the first exhaustive study into kinetic energy harvesting--the harvesting of “free” energy from common human activities, such as walking, writing with a pencil, taking a book off a shelf, or opening a door. Surprisingly, except for those living the most sedentary lifestyles, we all move around enough that a kinetic energy harvester--such as a modified Fitbit or Nike FuelBand--could sustain a wireless network link with other devices, such as a laptop or smartphone.

The conclusion of the story is that research into networks driven by these activities “sound[s] surprisingly feasible.”



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