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Except for Work, Is the PC Age Over?

It may be tempting to say that the current shift in user trends for consumer devices is limited to a generational shift, but in reality, it's affecting our grandparents and parents as well as our children.

The shift is crossing platforms from gamers to casual users and business clients, and it's changing the types of services we purchase for our homes and how we assign value to products.

This is the shift away from the computing segment to the consumer segment. As a society we are leaving our desktops and notebooks behind and moving to smartphones and tablets. But we're not going to be a society of just smartphones and tablets, no. We're going to be a society of smartphones, tablets, and SmartTVs.

How many people do you know who have already stopped using their desktop? Do you still use your laptop for anything other than business?

The first move in this shift was when we all moved from landlines to the cellular network. During the last five years or so, many people have been abandoning their TV services and switching to cable or DSL. How many people now watch their favorite shows on services like Hulu or Netflix or Amazon Prime?

It used to be that these services all came as a package: phone, Internet, and TV. So we've gotten rid of the phone and are in the process of getting rid of the TV. So the next logical step is really getting rid of our Internet service and going cellular. Do you have 4G yet? It's pretty fast and people are already routing their Internet service to their 4G network when WiFi is hard to find.

And really, why not move to the cellphone? It has enough processing power to do most anything we want to do. Watch videos? Yes. Take pictures? Sure. Browse the Internet? Yep. Check email? Absolutely. Update that Google Document? Here, use a wireless keyboard. No desktop or laptop required.

Now, most of us still have a desktop or laptop for our business needs, but how much longer will that last? Another 10 years? Five? Even now, when I'm not working, I'm not on my computer. Entertainment is done from the iPhone or iPad (streaming to the TV).

If I talk to gamers in their 20s, they're all on a laptop, console, or tablet, with more moving to the tablet every year. If I talk to grandparents, they're all on their phones. If I talk to people aged 40 to 60, they now have their phones and either a tablet or e-reader. For those in their 30s, phones and tablets are most popular. A laptop is usually in an abandoned home office gathering dust.

Indeed, the only reason these days to turn on a laptop is to print something out, but via the cloud we can now send photos or documents automatically to places like RiteAid and get instantaneous print outs at a reasonable price. Do we really need to continue to purchase a print cartridge and printer for that rare occasion (and getting rarer) we need to print something?

Photos are all now stored on the cloud. Do we really need an HDD to store them? Documents can be on Google Docs. Keyboards are wireless and we're moving to a projection market where we could make larger screens against almost any surface.

So what do you think? Is this an industry-wide shift and the way we buy and use electronics will never be the same? Is the computing segment on its way out?