Avoid the PC Nomenclature Cliff! Get Ready for the Next Gen of PCs!

Published:02/18/2013   Last Updated:02/17/2013

On a weekly basis I see or read some sort of craziness around what a PC is.   Seems pretty simple right?  After all... a PC = Personal Computing device.  However; the trap I see a lot of people falling into is that they are confusing the latest crop of personal computing devices - form vs. the function. 

The most recent egregious example of this I believe is with Tablets.  Here's how and why.  To me the latest crop of Tablets are PCs; they can definitely be both personal, and are computing devices.   More importantly though - they are nothing more than another iteration of a PC form factor.  The way I like to explain it is that they started out as these clunky tower looking desktop type PC devices; but over time they continue to branch out.  Then that branch forks, and forks again.  Ultimately you end up with PC's coming in all types of flavors, sizes, with screens, no screens, & various capabilities, etc.    

Additionally; to build on this idea consider these other truths.

  • A PC can ship with varying operating systems on it.  In other words - it's not defined by the OS.  It can ship with Microsoft's Windows, Apple's OS, Linux, etc.
  • A PC can come in practically any shape/size.  So it's not necessarily defined by the form factor either.
  • PC's are adapting and integrating new and exciting 'Perceptual Computing' functionality.  These are things such as: Touch, Gesture, Voice, AI, etc.  Just because a Tablet includes one of these new functions doesn't preclude it from being a PC.
  • The chipsets used to power these PC's (The micro-processors) also continue to shrink in die sizes, go lower wattage, and converge with other chipsets by integrating functionality if they can.  All while trying to increase performance from previous generations and keep the price steady and or slightly reduced.
  • PC's continue to cut the cords.  As all the wireless connectivity pieces get better and better over time we continue to head towards an interesting future. This ranges from: wireless display tech, to wireless devices & peripherals, to potentially wireless re-charging. 

When you add up all these pieces it's not unconceivable that a PC will find itself in all types of newer & exciting form factors we haven't even thought of yet.  Plush toy PCs anyone?   My guess is that we'll see even more convergence.  Why have a simple TV when you can have a SmartTV PC combo?  (make it an NAS on top of that!).  Wearable PCs?  (Iron man suit anyone?!)  As long as the headset computes & is doing something for you why not?   That SmartPhone is a PC?  Why not?  Since our chipsets continue to shrink, go lower wattage, & more wireless, why can't one's SmartPhone even be a PC for you?  Seems plausible.  Anyway... fun stuff to think about.  I go back to the title of the article though.  Let's not get too hung up on the semantics of what a PC is or isn't.  The exciting thing is that PCs are evolving and delivering new & creative experiences to us all the time.  I can't wait to see where the PC evolves next!   

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