Linked by Neolander on Sun 2nd May 2010 12:23 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y When computers--evolutive machines which may be reprogrammed at will--became widely available, it generated a well-deserved buzz. Some (scientists, banks, insurance companies) felt like they were dreaming, others (like some SF writers) rather thought of it as a nightmare. Today, like it or not, they're everywhere However, part of the individual-oriented computers are going rather far from the original programmable machine model. They rather look like usual tools, with a fixed use. Their customizable internals are only accessible to the people who engineered them. Is there no market anymore for general-purpose personal programmable machines, able to do about anything? I'll try to answer this question, taking into account two major trends in the personal computing market : touchscreen-powered devices and cloud computing.
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Right point, wrong arguments.
by Nicholas Blachford on Sun 2nd May 2010 18:32 UTC
Nicholas Blachford
Member since:
2005-07-06

I think the article makes a good point but it's using the wrong arguments.

General purpose means you can do whatever you want,
the whole resolution argument has nothing to do with this. That just means a different interface, it doesn't limit what you can do with a device, just how you control it.

The cloud computing thing is a better argument: By putting your apps on-line you are limiting the apps you can run to those supplied by the vendor, but that's only if you are limited to one vendor which is not likely to be the case. In any case, Web apps can be general purpose, the difference is in where you run them, not what they can or cannot do.

However, there is a good point to be made about the end of general purpose computing. I don't think it'll be the end but I do think general purpose machines could become a niche.

I think the iPad shows what will happen, I think it'll replace PCs for many people, it'll still be general purpose, but not in quite the same way.

I think PCs will become like SLR cameras are today, they're highly flexible devices that sell in reasonably high numbers. Point and click cameras are much less flexible and don't give the same results, but sell in vastly higher numbers.

The level of flexibility we want will still be available but you'll probably pay rather more for it.

Reply Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

General purpose means you can do whatever you want,
the whole resolution argument has nothing to do with this. That just means a different interface, it doesn't limit what you can do with a device, just how you control it.

Wrong. I've used a 15-inch screen then a 17-inch screen. For coding purposes, the second one is *much* better. And coding is not about pixel res, since text display is resolution-independent. When you have more space, you can do more things with it. With touchscreen-oriented buttons, we'll effectively have less space.

Sure, it's still possible to do the same thing using scrolling, tabs, and other tricks. But at some point it's not practically usable anymore. You miss the "I see everything at once" thing, which is really important.

In any case, Web apps can be general purpose, the difference is in where you run them, not what they can or cannot do.

You're right, It's the "personal" in personal computing that's dying here. You don't own your computer anymore. You're a minion of New IBM.

However, there is a good point to be made about the end of general purpose computing. I don't think it'll be the end but I do think general purpose machines could become a niche.

I think the iPad shows what will happen, I think it'll replace PCs for many people, it'll still be general purpose, but not in quite the same way.

I think PCs will become like SLR cameras are today, they're highly flexible devices that sell in reasonably high numbers. Point and click cameras are much less flexible and don't give the same results, but sell in vastly higher numbers.

The level of flexibility we want will still be available but you'll probably pay rather more for it.

That's what I see happening too, if the touchscreen things catches up. Hence this article ;) But you write this point much better.

Reply Parent Score: 1