by January 1, 2000 0 comments

The PC, or the Mac for that matter, is a general-purpose machine. It can do word processing and databases. It can play games and music. It can do calendars and advanced design. It can be used for writing and compiling code and for watching TV, not to mention e-mail and Internet browsing. And like any other Jack-of-all-trades, it’s a master of none. In order to make it a master of any one of the things it can do, you have to give it extra capabilities, such as a good 3D card for gaming. More than that, you add significantly to the costs. 

Which brings us back to the many gadgets we started off with. Each of them is meant for a specialized job, and does it really well. And most importantly, each costs significantly less than a PC.

The Sony PlayStation, which many consider to be the ultimate gaming machine, is a good case in point. The PlayStation is good at just one thing. Yes, you guessed it–playing games. And it costs a quarter of what a decent PC would cost. And PlayStation 2 offers Web browsing and e-mail support too.

Take the case of Samsung’s Yepp, or Diamond’s Rio. These devices also do just one thing–play MP3
files. And they do it really well, again at a fraction of the cost of a PC.

Take the cell phone. Remember the bulky units barely two years back? Today’s slim models have converted communication to an almost invisible art. And very soon, there may be more cell phones than there are PCs.

Or take the Palm Pilot. Another gadget that’s specialized in application, and it does its job pretty well.
In short, this to be the direction in which we’re moving–away from bulky and costly all-purpose desktop machines and towards specialized, compact, and cheaper gadgets. And by the look of it, all these gadgets would do two things. One, the specialized function each one is meant for–playing music or games or whatever, and the other, connect to the Internet.

And this could one day lead, if not to the demise of the PC, at least to its getting marginalized. A day, if I may be permitted the pun, when there may or may not be a PC on every desktop, but there would be a gadget in every pocket. 

You’d probably end up using different gadgets for different functions, and still pay less than what you did for the PC. In many cases, you’d probably pick up your gadget for free, and pay for some service instead. Some years back, PKR almost picked up his first cell phone as a freebie along with a can of shaving foam from some shop in London!

Free PCs have been tried last year. But those ventures soon folded up. I’m sure that the prohibitively high cost of a PC is one of the major reasons for this singular lack of success. With specialized gadgets, unit costs come down drastically, and it would be like the free cell phones being frequently offered by cellular services. 

Before I end, here’s wishing all of you a very, very happy and prosperous year ahead. 

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