Andrew has been writing Anti Buzz for 4 years resulting in almost 200 articles. For the next several weeks we will revisit some of these just in case you missed it.
The Buzz: Tablets are going to kill the traditional PC
The Anti-Buzz: No, it’s true.
If you are my age it is inevitable that the topic of kids and tablets come up; because you have kids and you have tablets, or you have friends who have kids and tablets, or you have friends who are disgusted that they have friends who have kids and tablets. Invariably, late night conversation turns to some anecdote about a 1-year old teaching himself to watch his favorite videos on his mom’s iPad – which I’m not so sure how amazing this is since when I was very very tiny my top priority was figuring out how I could watch Star Wars in a continuous loop.
Opinions on the matter vary, and are conditioned on how old the kid is, and what they are allowed to do, and whether or not they are reaching for their parent’s tablet or their own. Studies on the matter are nascent and inconclusive. If you’re keeping score, this is also the first time people of my generation are revealing themselves to be old-fashioned kooks. We are inherently biased, for lots of reasons, against any child having something we didn’t when we were that age. There are numerous legitimate concerns in regards to kids and tablets, but part of why it feels wrong is nothing but in-my-day, uphill-in-the-snow-both-ways, cane waving.
I can’t and won’t expound too much on child psychology, but this phenomenon of toddlers who are unbefuddled by tablets can lend some insight into why the devices are so popular. To wit, they’re so easy, even a baby can use them. That was once a figure of speech. With tablets it’s actually true. Exploring what that really means breaks down to two things: 1) the interface is friendly to illiterate people and 2) the interface is highly intuitive.
When I Googled “why do we like touchscreens?” (admittedly a bad query) I got these results; essentially that is just a list of articles written by cranky 30-year olds waving their canes at touchscreens. They are wrong. All of them.
Much is being made of how mobile devices are killing the PC market. And I say that it’s true, but not so much in the sense that most hype dealers want to spin it. Yes, Intel’s sales are down. Yes, Internet traffic is increasingly mobile device driven. But saying that the PC is dead is like some fashionista declaring the end of pencil skirts or this guy declaring that this bar is over. It’s a hip, wild thing to say, but it belies a certain emphasis on the popular.
I say it’s true enough that PCs are going to die as a casual computing platform. The influx of new PC users that were encouraged by the convenience of the Internet, (but only the convenience of the Internet), don’t need a whole danged computer. Complex work still warrants a full computer, and always will. At the very least, the infrastructure and software that makes your mobile experience so convenient, the graphic design that makes it so colorful, the video editing that makes the content you love possible, these all need powerful machines with complex input modes. The PC isn’t going to die, the popular kids are just done inviting it to parties. From the popular kids’ point of view, this is the same thing as being dead, but what do they know?
In a way, things are returning to how they used to be. The tactile world of the tablet makes your experience less like a computer and more like fussing with paper and maps and real physical objects. Using a tablet is in some ways like doing things you used to do before tablets. The PC, meanwhile, is returning to the loving embrace of the dedicated computer nerd, and I’m sure that, quietly, the computer nerds wouldn’t have it any other way.