The reinvention of the personal computer

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New Delhi | Published: July 3, 2018 3:47:20 AM

Smartphone-heavy users are changing the way PCs are being made and used.

smartphone, personal computersSmartphones have only become more powerful and productive. (Reuters)

In early 2012, the first Ultrabooks started making their way to store shelves around the world. The idea, pushed by chipmaker Intel, was to counter the growing popularity of smartphones by offering a personal computer that was thin, light and powerful. Soon, the Ultrabook evolved into the 2-in-1 convertibles that allowed users to consume and create as they wanted with the help of devices that could turn, twist or tear to push the touchscreen closer to the user. The idea was clearly to woo the user away from the smartphone by convincing her that there were still a lot of things you could not execute with a smaller screen.

Since then, smartphones have only become more powerful and productive. There was clearly a phase where a lot of laptop and notebook users, who primarily wanted these devices to consume content and check mail, decided that they could do the same with a cheaper smartphone, tablet or phablet. But it seems that the phase is over, too. Interestingly, the exposure to computing on smartphones might actually be prompting millions of first-time users to consider a full-fledged personal computer.

Vickram Bedi, senior director, Personal Systems, HP India, says there is a clear change in user behaviour in this space. It appears the users who have been brought up on smartphones and tablets will not compromise on quality and power when it comes to the personal computer. “If you are to do your best work, you want to have the right tool for that task. Customers are maturing and it is becoming more about I need my smartphone and I need my PC,” he says, underlining how the “and” has taken over the “or”.

“We see this as a renaissance of the PC revolution and internally call it as PC 2.0. In the Indian context, as we become a younger country, there is a generation of people who have learnt swiping and touching even before they learnt to speak. As we progress, they are moving from a consumption to a desire to create,” he says. There is another trend—to have the best tool for the purpose and not just have one tool for the purpose. Also, we have seen that this generation does not necessarily differentiate between consumer and commercial products, and just wants the best.
But is this demand tough to match up to? “It is opening up a whole new opportunity for as, as we are able to bring a lot of value-adds and they are more receptive to the same,” he explains, adding how the new generation appreciates having the choice from a range of products.

How this is becoming the core user behaviour across the world is clear from the recent changes Apple has made to its operating systems. If you look at it clinically, iOS is adding more PC features and macOS is adding more mobile elements. For instance, iOS now lets you access files as you would on a Mac and macOS lets you access some apps like in the iPhone. This is because the users are becoming more demanding and are not willing to compromise when it comes to what they want to do. They will not compromise on the ease of use, just because they are using a mobile device, and will not forgo the freedom of mobility because they are using a laptop.

Interestingly, the next big trend in laptops could be the new breed of always-connected devices that come with full network connectivity inbuilt. With tablets having done what they have, it was just a matter of time before connected laptops became a reality. In fact, the idea is not new and even Nokia toyed with the concept years ago. Even now, some of the top-end enterprise devices like Microsoft’s Surface Pro have a connected option available. With Qualcomm announcing Snapdragon chips built just for the laptop, we could be entering an era where a SIM slot becomes a standard in laptops.

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