New gadgets aim to steal PC crown

The PC at 25 - is it already over the hill?
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

The PC at 25 - is it already over the hill?

A new wave of gadgets will aim to replace the PC as the technology of choice for many users, as businesses rebel against over-complex and expensive-to-run desktops.

It will be quarter of a century since the launch of the IBM PC on 12 August, and in that 25 years, 1.6 billion PCs have been sold and 870 million are currently in use, creating an industry with $200bn in annual revenue.

And despite the availability of rival technologies such as thin-clients, these competitors haven't taken off on any large scale, while smartphones, which are sometimes touted as PC replacements, can only perform a limited range of functions in comparison.

But Gartner warns that the PC now faces challenges to its primacy.

The analyst group warns that while operating systems and applications continue to improve, it is now difficult to translate those advances into meaningful benefits for users.

It warns that the virtuous circle that drove PC innovation has become a "vicious cycle" of increasing complexity, with a lack of simplicity and stability as key PC failings.

Businesses are finding that PC configuration and maintenance results in operating costs that "far outweigh" original capital costs, according to the analyst.

As a result Gartner predicts that in coming years many new devices will challenge the PC. It said the growing availability of cheap bandwidth and processing power, combined with internet-based services will make a new style of application delivery possible, which could "unravel" some of the complexity surrounding PCs.

Virtualisation will also be a key development - and Gartner recommends that enterprises should consider how this will be used in their business.

But managing the legacy technology still in use may also be an issue. Gartner said: "The biggest challenge the PC industry will face is adapting to new applications, management and business models while supporting the legacy versions of these as well."

Earlier this year silicon.com's CIO Jury ruled that legacy IT systems are one of the biggest headaches that hinder business transformation and drain tech budgets.

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