We are living in fascinating times. A decade ago-or even less-the idea that anything would unseat the PC as the main corporate computing tool wouldn't come up, simply because it wouldn't have occurred to anyone.
But that was then, and this is now. Long-time observer Craig Mathias writes at InformationWeek about just that possibility. After a brief history of the tablet "form factor" and its antecedents, he discusses the ways in which the PC faltered. He lauds the achievements in hardware, but doesn't hold back on Microsoft, the favorite target of yesteryear:
While the capital cost of the PC itself went down, especially considering the amazing improvements in hardware price/performance, the OS got more expensive, more difficult to use, and thus more expensive to deploy and support. Part of this has to do with the fundamental bone-headed nature of the very architecture of Windows, and Microsoft's various missteps (Windows ME and Vista come to mind here) that just heaped on cost with little (read: no) benefit.
The future, Mathias says, will belong to cloud computing and tablets. While he says that PCs won't totally go away, tablets will take a big piece of the enterprise business. The extent of the transition will depend on the emergence of a strong universe of tablets built specifically for the enterprise.
It's almost silly to discuss all the new tablets coming out. It seems like there is a new device every 15 minutes. But there are people who do this kind of thing for a living-or as a weird hobby. Here, for instance, is Tech Tree's take on the most interesting tablets introduced at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They are the HP Touchpad, Samsung Galaxy 10.1, LG Optimus 3G, Acer Iconia A100/A500 and the HTC Flyer. Wired, meanwhile, paid special attention in its MWC wrap to Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1, ViewSonic's ViewPad 10 and Motorola's Xoom.
In what most likely is the first lead paragraph in an IT or telecom article that cites the Romans, Visigoths and Zulu armies-as well as General Custer -- the Inquirer looked at the volume of tablet news at MWC. The writer made clear in a second paragraph -- which managed to work in the Cambrian epoch of pre history-that there was a huge avalanche of tablet news at the show, and any person who does not accept the fact that tablets are huge is making a mistake of historically epic proportions.
The conclusion of the piece circles back to the PC:
History is rarely revolutionary and instead follows long trends before critical change events happen. Certain CEOs will have only themselves to blame when the shareholders come calling with torches and pitchforks. This MWC was a watershed moment and The INQUIRER expects that this year will see the first casualties among the chief executives of PC era companies that have failed to keep up.
To be fair, the writer included changes in addition to the tablet in that summation. But the fact remains that an historic change indeed is under way, and tablets are a big part of it.