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Don’t write off the desktop PC yet

I was in the US on the day the iPad was launched last year, ogling at the lovely tablet’s first avatar. Here in India last weekend, I got to play with the iPad2, with its killer looks, and great feel and features.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2011 21:44 IST
N Madhavan

I was in the US on the day the iPad was launched last year, ogling at the lovely tablet’s first avatar. Here in India last weekend, I got to play with the iPad2, with its killer looks, and great feel and features.

Also last week, trendlines in the Silicon Valley showed that desktop PCs may be waning in favour of mobile devices. Intel, which makes microchips for PCs, reduced its forecast, and Microsoft’s Windows platform sales fell below expectations, while Apple Inc beat them all with sales of 9 million tablets.

By 2015, an estimated 300 million tablets are expected to ship, not far behind 479 million PCs expected to be made, according to industry researcher IHS iSuppli.

Also last week, HT ran a story on how laptop computer prices have tumbled to R15,000 levels for basic versions (netbooks), as tablet sales loom.

So, is the desktop era over? I would say not, because I have also been watching some lovely machines made by Lenovo, Dell and India’s own Zenith. Starting at just over Rs25,000, the new ones pack in the processing unit, Web camera, speakers and other features in a compact ‘all-in-one’ PC — most importantly with a large screen. Some models come with remotes.

One analyst said last week, “To me a tablet is just a netbook that has a solid-state drive and a touchscreen.” Those are words of wisdom.

Prices are falling all over. While Google’s Android platform is making mobile devices cheaper and competition tougher, my guess is that compact formats and larger screens at lower prices will keep desktops shining.

With online videos exploding and broadband taking off in the form of sleeker wi-fi and cheaper data plans, I envision Net-linked smart TVs and/or large-screen desktops shining.

The desktop PC and the smart TV are likely to converge in some way. You are likely to watch or play with broadband content with a wireless keyboard or a remote that is designed like one, as one-way broadcasts of set programmes give way to wider choices and interactivity.