The Fifth Bread and the Mobile Computing
Once upon a time, there was a gentleman who was very hungry. He bought 5 breads. After finishing the first 4 breads, he still felt hungry. While eating the 5th bread, he found himself full. Then he thought it’s the fifth bread that made him full, and wondered why he had wasted money on the first 4 breads.
I am not a good story teller but do want to use this story to explain what I see in IT industry today. For a long time, we use personal computer for many different things. Then iPad and iPhone came along and became the 5th bread. Not only did some people downplayed the importance of PC, but also predicts no future for PC.
As a dynamic industry especially in the consumer market, I think it’s understandable to make bold predictions. For some people, it’s a good trick to catch media attentions.
The fact is that the PC and mainframe are still the first 4 breads as I can see today. The iPad is cool and easy to use for browsing Internet, watching movie, taking a photo, and so on. But when coming to serious works like preparing presentation slides, we still depend on the traditional PCs. It’s even so for power users like software developers who need to write code. I found it’s not as efficient to even write a tweet using iPad or iPhone as using a PC.
I’m not saying iPad and iPhone won’t improve and catch up. At the same time, the PC will also improve and move on to the next level like Microsoft Surface. Realistically traditional PC market won’t grow much, or even lose a bit of market, because there wasn’t a choice like the tablet before for users who just needed to browse Internet and nothing more. When iPad or other tablets came, these users went away with tablets. But overall, I think PC will be doing just fine especially in enterprise space in the near future.
I see the tablets and smart phones are complimentary, not replacements, to existing PC computing. When the cost of these electronics drop, we can, and will, afford multiple devices at same time, just like we all have multiple pairs of shoes today, each of which matches the activity we engage. I think same thing will happen in consumer market as well.