Soon there will be no reason to have a big, boxy computer on your desk

Apple Online Store“The desktop is dying. In 2008, desktops were tied with laptops in the market—about 45 percent of the PCs that American consumers purchased for personal use were desktops, about 45 percent were laptops, and the rest were netbooks and other mini computers, according to data from the market-research company Forrester,” Farhad Manjoo reports for Slate. “Last year, sales of laptops eclipsed sales of desktops for the first time. According to Forrester’s projections, the decline in desktop PC sales will continue unabated over the next five years… Amazingly, by 2015, desktops will constitute just 18 percent of the consumer PC market, if Forrester’s projections bear out.”

“The rise of netbooks and tablets proves that, for many tasks, consumers are OK with sacrificing power in favor of portability,” Manjoo reports. “What’s more, in the future much of the ‘power’ in our computers will come from the Internet… You might be skeptical that cloud-based systems will ever be able to match what a big, powerful computer on your desk can do. Perhaps they won’t. But that might not matter. The annals of tech are littered with ‘better’ things that we abandoned in favor of more convenient things. We dropped vinyl in favor of CDs, and then dropped CDs in favor of MP3s, even though each new technology offered lower audio fidelity than the previous one. In this way, the shift to portable machines fits larger social trends.”

Manjoo reports, “At the moment, our computing lives are too scattered. There is little continuity as you shift from a laptop to a tablet to a smartphone to a desktop; each device has different apps, access to different sets of data, and a different screen configurations… You can bet someone will figure this out soon. And when that happens, you’ll no longer think of any single computer as your ‘main’ computer. They’ll all be variations on the theme of your personal data. And none of them will be stuck to your desk.”

Read more in the full article, “Flight of the Desktops; Soon there will be no reason to have a big, boxy computer on your desk,” here.

MacDailyNews Take: We haven’t had a “big, boxy computer” on our desks since 1998.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “bugsbunny” for the heads up.]


  1. While I love my iPhone, MacBook Pro 13″, and will love my 2G iPad, there’s nothing like working on documents on my iMac i5. The screen is fantastic for placing documents side-by-side and having all the space I could want for editing without constantly scrolling around.

    I haven’t considered a tower system for at least 12 years, and I don’t see that I’ll ever buy one again. Does Apple even still make the Mac Pro?

    BTW, did the 5 people who constantly whined about wanting a minitower system finally give up the ghost?

  2. Yeaaahhhh well

    We’ll see how this cloud computing model works after the first, big, huge, data loss… and that would be YOUR data.

    When is on my desktop, I know where it is, no one can see it, or otherwise profit from it, and I alone am responsible for backing it up(and I do, in three places)

  3. My gorgeous iMac i7 27″ screen is awesome, big bright bold beautiful so easy to see and use. LOVE it! Does not take up much desktop real estate, but fills the airspace with power usability!

  4. Cloud computing puzzles me. I can understand cloud services, but the idea that Chrome or something like it will ever replace OS X for me seems impossible right now.

    I like having my data right where it is.

  5. My “boxy” iMac G4 is still pulling duty as my web and file server. Wish I could afford to replace it with a new mini. But no laptop or iPad will ever replace it. Desktops still have their uses.

  6. The big flaw in cloud computing is that it relies on, basically, blind trust. People are trusting technology and forgetting that it is people behind it all.

    Sooner or later that trust will be betrayed because it is people behind it all.

  7. The author is right and Apple is leading the way by sidestepping the desktop metaphor.

    No doubt, Apple will continue to produce thoroughbreds machines, just as I have no doubt Lambourgini will, at some point, produce a non-fossil fuel automobile.

    But, make no mistake, micro-miniature devices will eclipse the desk-bound boxes in utility, functionality, and immediacy. In fact, the desktop will be reduced to the role it once played; a niche product the average working man cannot afford.

    Just as Legacy entrapped Microsoft in a world of servitude to the past and dominated their R&D going forward, those industries whose business is intertwined with the desktop, i. e., film, television, medical, municipals, have no in-house, or people in the field of technology like Apple, leading the way to miniaturization.

    Microsoft can’t produce a streamlined OS stable enough to support downsizing of those huge, boxy machines many are too dependent on, however, once Apple begins licensing iOS, third-parties can begin designing minimalist machines, around which the downsizing of all industries can begin.

    Think about the way we design our buildings, furniture, and machines? I’m reminded of the old blimp hangars on Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and how incredibly huge they had to build them, to accommodate those monstrous dirigibles. They were so big, they had their own weather system!

    Just as the optical drive was an impediment to moving forward at Apple, Steve Jobs did the only reasonable thing possible; he took it out of the equation! You have to let that sink in to appreciate how obvious the solution to removing the bottleneck on the path to miniaturization.

    Just as the Japanese sidestepped the amplifier tube, the mainspring, and this overdeveloped sense of luxury, Apple, or Steve Jobs that is, eschewed the impediments to progress, by thinking different from the rest of the tech industry.

    Rolex still prides itself on handmade watches, for which there’ll always be a market, but the Japanese flooded the market with a watch for Everyman, for the price of a cup of coffee, and we love ’em for it.

    Move over Japan, because what you’ve done for machines, Apple is about to do ten-fold and eclipse your philosophy of less is more.

    With Apple leading the way, America will reclaim the glory of our industrial past through miniaturization.

    You heard it here, at MDN, first.

  8. I haven’t used a desktop for my engineering work since 2003.

    I still use a 2005 G5 desktop though for my audio and video production hobbies. I’ve grown use to using two monitors for that. Whether I get a laptop next time is up in the air, I’ll need to see what’s available when I make the decision by the end of the year. But I’m inclined to get a desktop since I’m not very mobile with the dual monitors.

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