There is no doubt that the average smartphone is a clever bit of technical wizardry, but can they really be relied upon to replace the good old PC?
The PC was a long time coming and when it did finally arrive, we were all left thinking about just how clever we were to have invented such a groundbreaking piece of equipment. We could only dream of the power that computers would give us and television science fiction shows like Star Trek put what they envisaged a computer to be capable of to good use. Panels of flashing lights blinking away and who can forget the spools of tape rolling back and forth in the early James Bond films? Was this to be what computers would really look like? Not quite!
Although computers were initially only in the domain of the fast paced business, the PC went on to become a familiar site in the majority of homes over recent years. An entire corner is often taken over by a desk with a PC, keyboard, monitor, printer/scanner, speakers and a plethora of CD’s and related PC paraphernalia. A smartphone fills a trouser or jacket pocket and can probably do just as much as the PC.
So are smartphones really computers?
I asked this question some time back and the reply was often along the lines of although smartphones are clever gadgets they make calls and computers don’t! However this isn’t true, we don’t just communicate via email with a computer, we use Skype and all sorts of other communication methods with a PC. The main difference between the two is that the smartphone is portable and the PC is not. The power supply for a smartphone is still its internal rechargeable battery, so it’s not going to compete with a mains driven PC in the power stakes, but it can run a browser, some apps, and interactive maps.
Back in the day we all wondered if we would ever have pocket computers, many attempts were made to create pocket computers without the ability to make phone calls. There were quite a few palm ‘computers’ on the market but their processing prowess was pretty dismal. It’s all very academic now as we have computers and smartphones and we tend to take both for granted.
When the first smartphones hit the market, it was pretty clear that the pocket computer and the smartphone would be merged into one unit in a very short space of time.
But can we reallycall the modern smartphone a computer? Let’s face it, they have a touch screen, they have cloud access and can run all sorts of apps.
Going back just a short time, if you were at a friends house or out for an evening meal in a restaurant and someone asked a question that nobody knew the answer too, we’d all be Googling the answer on our return home. Nowadays, it’s more a case of out with the smartphone and Bob’s your uncle, the answer is literally at our fingertips! It’s not even considered to be bad form anymore to whip out the phone during a dinner party to Google some information, but make or receive a call and the stern looks will soon be coming your way.
But are smartphones really comparable to computers? For starters they don’t have a powerful multi core machine with X number of terabyte storage, tons of gigabytes of main memory, and two 30 inch monitors to view. Having said that, old PC’s will be blown out of the water by the average modern smartphone. For example, the iPhone is more powerful than the Apple II was. The iPhone can certainly do an awful lot more than the Apple II could.
If you could wind the clock back and launch the smartphone as a pocket computer with calling capabilities, you would be a very wealthy person indeed.
Recent studies have concluded that more and more people are turning to their smartphones for online shopping, emailing, surfing the web and even gaming. Even the makers of the mainstream gaming consuls have noticed a marked downturn in demand for their services and this is because of the smartphone market launching more games online.
There is a very good chance that within a couple of years, the bulky PC will have become something that very few people will use. If you have a smartphone that has all the latest technology, why would you need a PC? Some complain about the small screen but wired or wireless docking stations that make use of existing tv screens or projectors will easily get around this. In fact, how long before we have a computer chip inserted into our head that connects to our brain and optical nerve? Even the smartphone will be redundant then!
In a nutshell, I think we can say without too much fear of contradiction, “move over PC, the smartphone is your replacement”.