The PC Industry and What People Want

A persistent theme in my news feed is the decline of the PC industry. Some manufacturers blame Microsoft and especially Windows 8, others have blamed the netbooks for pushing prices so low that the industry is not sustainable. Some note that tablet sales went up, when PC sales went down, and remember that the households’ IT budget didn’t double when the iPad was launched.

What I haven’t seen mentioned by the industry or the commentators  is what the consumers need and want. There is an underlying assumption that people must want to buy a new PCs every Nth year. But why should they?

A person who primarily needs the computer to browse the Internet, read news, access email, do netbanking, play a casual game and socialize via Facebook will be served well with an older PCs. If the only other things wished for is a simpler, wireless experience that can be enjoyed everywhere, a tablet fits the bill.

A modern PC can do amazing things, but why would the person sketched out above need one?

(writing some ideas sounds like my next post : )

A side note : If Windows 8 could be blamed for declining PC sales out would be because it is more resource efficient than previous versions of Windows, making upgrade to Windows 8 on an old PC an alternative to bring all new hardware.

Another side note: History seems to have proven Marc Andreesen right and more, when he said that “[Netscape will soon reduce Windows to] a poorly debugged set of device drivers”: the user above can do all that is to be done within a browser, making the OS and the hardware irrelevant (ref Wikiquote)

Antivirus Vendors dropping Windows XP Support

Last week I read this piece about how
Windows XP [is] at risk as antivirus vendors jump ship and the unanswered question “why are they doing this”  left me thinking.

After thinking, I have the answer: “Money”

The Antivirus vendors will put their efforts where the sales are. Looking up the latest statistics of operating system usage shares at Wikipedia, it is correct that almost 40 percent of PCs are running Windows XP, but who knows bow many of those have owners that will buy antivures software? (well, Microsoft knows how many are licensed, but I doubt they will tell me). However, the statistics do not mention how many of those XP installations are corporate, but those that are, should be busy complete ting upgrade to Windows 7 before April 2014. For the consumers that still run Windows XP on their PCs, I dare guess that they have a healthier IT/life balance than me, and so give ITinvestments@home lower priority. But even if they did otherwise, much hardware with Windows XP OEM installations and full service pack and security updates would struggle to run antivirus suites intended for newer, more powerful hardware platforms. I can also imagine that some of those older XP machines have in fact been replaced by tablets that satisfy the same user needs as the older PCs.

A real world example: I am writing this entry during a family visit while installing Win XP Service Pack 3 on a 2005 Laptop, powered by a since core 1.73GHz CPU. It did have antivirus installed upon delivery, but that was uninstalled when the laptop’s performance degraded over time.

Regardless the motives of the Antivirus vendors, this story just confirms that staying on Windows XP is a risky affair, because we can be fairly certain that at least the malware vendors will continue to support Windows XP for a while.

MIUI Test – Followup

Last weekend I brought my MIUI Desire with iPhone inspired theme to a family get together and compared it to the real thing. And they were indeed very much alike. Applying a skin with lookalike lock screens and icon packs doesn’t chance essentials and after all, Android and iOS meets the same base requirements: making a smartphone run. Thinking about it, my past experience with Symbian and BlackBerry confirms this too (and now I feel like getting a Windows phone, just to be thorough : )

I learnt something, which was great, and had an opportunity to show some of the possibilities Android offers. That was too.

The Future of RSS Clients

I get most of my news via rss feeds and I read them on different devices: A PC at an office desk, a tablet in the sofa, a phone when waiting in line in the supermarket. For each device I have a preferred client: feedly, Press, gReader… Google Reader ties it all together, synchronizing read status and stars across the clients.

On July 1, 2013 Google Reader will close down, apparently because the number of users has declined. That is probably true, especially if the users counted are those that visit Google site to read their feeds – with alternatives available on all platforms, it is natural that the Google site has fewer visitors and thus less revenue.

I don’t know what will happen after July 1. According to the client vendors, they are all working on solutions that will ensure a seamless transition when the day comes. Well, software development being software development I expect hiccups, but I am really more concerned whether the vendors are working towards a common solution, or if we will see yet another proliferation of standards.

I fear the latter will happen, with different clients no longer able to share and synchronize feed data. Then again, this is an opportunity for new business models. If Google’s ad supported model may no longer be commercially viable, what is? . I doubt we will see a coalition of rss client providers create a shared infrastructure, so what will happen?

This is also a good reminder that Google is a business and that the free services provided still generates revenue somehow.

Update, May 14: Today feedly.com posted a questionnaire, asking for users’ input on possible subscription models, use of ads and  3rd party client support : )

Dilbert.com – now with Keyword Search

I just found out that dilbert.com has a keyword search feature that allows you to search for old comic strip based on strip text.

Excellent.

This probably isn’t new, but my daily Dilbert is delivered by rss and I didn’t see the keyword search when I signed up. And so I just wanted to share in case others didn’t notice either.

The reason I found out was that I was looking for a specific frame I once saw in a calendar and forgot to keep: Bob the Dinosaur actively waiting for troubles to go away. With the keyword search I found both the frame and the strip it was taken from. Good stuff. I also found the strip where a marketing guy with a magazine is hunted down with tranquillizer darts. Good stuff too.

(check the strip – it is not that I have anything against marketing people working in marketing, but I know so very well what such magazines can do…)