when i was younger i used to be one of the types of people that was always eager to play with the latest gadgets. i had high hopes for the pocketpc PDAs and bought one during their heyday. like most people i imagine, i stopped using it after a year or so. for me…it simply didn’t live up to my expectations, especially the handwriting recognition. so my latter use of the device was relegated to using it as a gameboy (more or less). anyways, they were still cool devices…obvious precursors to today’s smartphones.
i still like playing around with gadgets and working in IT gives me ample opportunity to do so. the difference nowadays is that i’m a lot less excitable about them. after you’ve seen the umpteenth next big thing come and go the hype effect dwindles quite a bit. now i like to stick to things that are tried and true and not so much what’s new/hot at the moment. i typically wait about 3 years for a technology to prove itself in the marketplace before i even think about purchasing it. for instance, when i finally upgraded my home network to a 802.11n network i waited several years until the standard was completely finalized (and really i didn’t have the necessity to upgrade until about 3 years ago). i like to buy technology based on research (features, reviews, company reputation) along with my own personal preferences and i want that device to last me a good solid 5 years. an exception being laptops…i generally like to upgrade laptops every 3 years. my rationale there is that the battery is usually shot and the laptop is typically suffering from general wear and tear by then.
anyways, the point i’m trying to get to is that recently the consumer technology market seems to want to come out with that next big thing a lot more frequently. or maybe it always has and i never noticed as much. the most common trend now is tablets. evidently everyone wants one and the PC era is dead. we are in the so-called post PC era. now business-wise i can’t foresee the PC era ever being dead. let me explain that…i do think the traditional model of PCs is going away right now, but i think businesses will always need something “PC-like”. i consider the traditional model to be that of the 1990’s where each year or so a business would rollout a new model of PC. this was done because PC performance was growing at a substantial rate back then. nowadays, everyone has a dual core at minimum and a decent amount of RAM and for what …word processing? there really isn’t much of a need anymore for businesses to upgrade their PCs unless there is an out of warranty hardware failure. that’s why i have described this model as going away. now i’ll explain by what i mean by businesses needing something PC-like. the majority of people in a business are stationary, they are stuck at a desk. they are doing whatever productivity work they need to do on their PC. this work most likely involves a lot of keyboard use. so one can see there’s no reason to force a mobile device on such a user. it’s pointless for a user to have to work 10 times harder trying to use a tiny touch screen keyboard-less device to do productivity work when they did it so easily on a PC. so replacing a PC with a mobile device is ridiculous. if anything a mobile device is just a supplement to a PC, not a replacement. now, the PC-like replacement i mentioned is VDI used with thin clients. VDI gives the user something that is still basically a PC and familiar to them. at the same time, it centralizes PC management and ends the PC upgrade cycles. in my opinion, VDI is the true successor to the traditional PC model.
now, consumer-wise replacing the PC…sometimes, i have to step back and take my personal opinion out of the picture. just because a tablet won’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for another person. i’ve heard of people saying they use their smartphone more than they do their PC. and i’ve found out their typical usage is things like social networking, email, chatting, web browsing, etc. basic things really. so i can see how a tablet could really replace a PC for people who just do those things. now if someone said all i need is a tablet at my job i’d have to wonder if they ever do any serious work. and i still wonder what a tablet owner does when they need to type something up that’s more than a paragraph. do they go buy a laptop and use it to write what they need and then set the laptop on the shelf and go back to using the tablet 24/7? i wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. despite how much i personally find it mind-boggling, i could potentially see the PC dying in the consumer market and tablets becoming the norm. i believe this because tablets evidently do what a average joe requires them to do. there’s a simple method of installing apps…if the tablet has a problem get it warranty replaced or just buy a new one. no need to pay $$ to a PC tech to remove malware from your PC.
i think what really bugs me is all this consumer tech and ideology creeping over into the enterprise IT space. this stuff has never and will never belong in enterprise IT. i love having choices as a consumer. i love that i could choose to have a computer running linux, windows, or mac os, and that i can make similar choices in the smartphone/tablet space. however, choices do not belong in enterprise IT, standardization does. you develop a standard and stick to it. you don’t tell your end users “oh yeah bring in whatever you want, we’ll support it”. you don’t do that because it’s impossible. i’ve been dismayed by the fact that mac usage has grown in organizations. and users don’t want them for a purpose like multimedia work, they want them just because. i know there are MDM/BYOD solutions available but they all fail to keep up with device diversity. when it comes to end-user computing devices nowadays it’s the wild west when it comes to standards. it’s a losing battle that will never be won and when something else new comes out it will start all over again…
(this was a rant i wrote like 4 years ago)