Monday, April 23, 2012

Are desktop computers being phased out?

The other day I was having a conversation with a lady with a family about some furniture stuff, and I mentioned needing a table for my computer. She assumed it's a laptop and suggested using the small night table available in my room. Then I broke it to her that it's a desktop and it's gonna need a bigger table. This was the comment she had to that (approximation only, not exact words):
"Desktop? Why are you using a desktop? Those things are for little kids to play with! You should be using laptop. Everyone is using laptop now. Only small children play with desktops."
I wasn't happy with her comment, and retorted that I'm a computer science student and I built the desktop myself and has interest in building it myself. She was like "Oh OK" for a while but 5-10 minutes later, she repeats the exact same comment about kids. Like hello?!... I just changed topic and never mentioned about the computer again.

Then it got me thinking. Just about one and half years ago when I built my desktop, I went to Sim Lim Square for buying all the parts required. At that time the floors of the specialized tech shopping mall had been more or less teeming with desktop-related stuff along with some laptop shops and some other accessories stores. (The bottom floors however are more or less dedicated to phones and digital cameras.)

But recently about a month ago I went to Sim Lim Square to get an upgrade for my desktop RAM. And I noticed something very peculiar. The landscape has changed a lot. Now there are a lot of shops selling laptops and mobile tablets (Android/iPad), but only a few shops on the top floors dealing with desktops and desktop parts - at least half of them being in obscure corners.

Though I have no statistics to show, it seems to me that among the general public, the demand for mobile computing is going higher while that of desktop computing is dropping. Laptops had already been almost as powerful as desktops for years, but now they are having their prime-time before they make way to mobile tablets that are slowly taking over (these things are still sorely lacking in capability to replace the good ole' Windows laptop).

However, I don't think desktop computers are going to be completely off the market. Though they would be much less favoured by the general public, they won't be gone for good. I would expect hardcore gamers to either buy high-end desktops or build one themselves as laptops are simply not powerful enough for them and cannot satisfy their cooling demands. High-end or mid-range desktops could (also) be purchased or assembled by those who require them for specialized applications or has interest in building them. They can also be ordered in bulk quantities by offices and businesses that only require desktop computing on their office desks.

And of course, there will always be little children to play with the low-end ones.