OFCOM recently announced that smartphones have overtaken laptops and desktops as the No. 1 way that British people access the internet.
This probably won’t come as a surprise. After all, we have our phones in our pockets all day. They’re the first thing we check in the morning, mobile internet speeds are becoming increasingly fast and reliable, and nearly every large company has a mobile-friendly website or its own app. In comparison, our PCs can appear cumbersome and outdated.
Does that mean we’re in the Post–PC era?
It’s a trendy term. ‘Post-PC’ was made popular by Apple at its introduction of the iPad in 2010. Many people took that to mean that traditional computers will eventually be replaced entirely by tablets and smartphones.
While PCs aren’t selling as many units as they used to, they’re by no means dying off. In fact, their healthiest sales are in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ category. Large, clunky, practical laptops are selling more than any other kind of PC, and it’s easy to see why. While smartphones and tablets are great for browsing, it will never be practical to do real work on a screen you can fit in your hand. Consumers want a device that’s portable and affordable, but still as functional as a desktop.
When completing important tasks, people want space to see what they’re doing. That’s not about to change.
The Big Merge
The real reason that Britons consider smartphones their ‘most important device’ for getting online is because smartphones, as they become larger, faster and more powerful, are evolving into another form of PC. With Cloud computing, it’s much easier to see your smartphone as an extension of your PC, and vice versa. Smartphone retailers are leaping on this – for example, Microsoft have launched Windows 10 as a cross-platform OS for PCs and phones alike. This integrated system, named ‘Continuum’, allows Microsoft users to seamlessly open the same apps and documents on all their devices.
While we increasingly use our smartphones for small, day-to-day internet use, our PCs will remain preferable for heavy-duty tasks. It’s not that PCs are dying off – it’s that the gap between our computers and our mobiles is closing. So, let’s not call it the ‘Post-PC Era’: let’s call it the ‘Multi–PC’ era instead.