The PC, headed the way of the typewriter?

Mark Dean thinks so and he should know, he holds 3 of the 9 patents associated with the original PC, developed at IBM. Mr. Dean is still helping to create history, working as part of the team that created the supercomputer, and now Jeopardy champion, Watson.

Did you know typewriters sales were "commercially viable" well into the 1980's? I didn't. IBM didn't even sell off their typewriter division until 1990 - they sold it to Lexmark. I imagine there was a healthy patent profile in regards to printing technologies that came along with the sale or I'm not sure why any suitor would have been available.  

We agree with Mr. Dean, the PC and its operating system are rapidly becoming commoditized. This shift is being driven primarily by the growing capabilities of Internet technologies. The appropriateness of the analogy is clearly illustrated in the fact that a PC without any ability to access the Internet is about as useful as a typewriter.

Proponents of Cloud Computing often talk about how these modern Internet services democratize technology. Mainframes were only available to the richest organizations. Client/server architectures were able to reach a broader audience but a vast majority of functionality was only available to organizations with substantial capital. Today's Internet allows any person or organization access to a seemingly unlimited number of applications. This democratization will not only apply to applications, it will apply to the operating system as well. You don't buy a new version of Firefox or Chrome so you can access the updates to Gmail, which you also didn't have to pay for. The OS is following this same path. 

Over the past 10 years the PC has been transitioning from the center of your computing world to an access point. Everything around how we utilize technology in our daily lives has changed except the PC itself. What percentage of your time do you spend on the Internet when you're working on your PC? The number one application on the PC today is the browser. The browser happens to be the #1 "app" on smartphones as well. The reason is simple, the Internet is now the center of our computing world.

For all the talk about smartphones and tablets, it might be the PC that sees the most change in the coming months and years.