Some would argue that among the many benefits to society of the age of the tablet, phablet, smartphone and their tragically unhip out-of-town cousin, the laptop, is that we're finally moving on from the cumbersome era of desktop computing. Once upon a time Steve Jobs pointedly mocked the IBM-descended box-and-monitor array with its thicket of cables connecting forested peripherals. In 2015, Jobs' bulky iMac G3 would itself be a laughingstock, single-cord design notwithstanding.
These days the desktop computer is largely a symbol of corporate confinement, a business tool of white collar nine-to-fivers. Minimalist gadgets like Google's Chromebox are taking Pac Man-esque bites out of the shrinking home computer market, and even the PC gaming clique has shifted its focus to the sleeker, more portable laptop. If you aren't some sort of writer, programmer, or niche user who needs to run powerful software, then tablets, phones and the like can probably serve your every whim.
One group that may be linking arms with the keyboard crowd, however, is cybersecurity professionals. At the tail end of our recently concluded Cybersecurity Salary Survey, we tacked on a grab bag of less weighty questions, including one that stirred the still-glowing embers on the funeral pyre of the desktop PC. Here's how it appeared on the survey:
When I need a new desktop PC, the best option is:
- Choose all the components and build it myself.
- Buy something with a good warranty from a trusted manufacturer.
- Get a laptop or tablet. Who uses desktop computers anymore?
- Quit living in 1998, Grandpa.
Now, there is a notable cross-section of the more than 600 security pros surveyed which does demonstrate that the market is shifting. Nearly 35 percent of those surveyed said that the solution to any hypothetical PC dilemma is to get a laptop or tablet. And a puckish�6.7 percent did indeed wag the finger of scorn at 1998. So there's undeniable evidence that PC culture is abandoning the PC.
On the other hand, however, the largest single group of those surveyed is still the D-I-Y crowd that chooses its own desktop adventure. A solid 40 percent of those surveyed pick out the parts they need and do the rest themselves. And the remaining 19 percent, while they may not have a nuts-and-bolts interest in computing technology, are still going to replace a desktop PC with ... another desktop PC.
We're not saying that anyone should rush out and buy stock in Dell or HP (or, say, NewEgg). Just that there's probably a reason Steve Jobs never did brush aside PC culture with a wave of his iMagic wand. And that the Ghost of Jobs may be waiting around for a while yet if he thinks that the still raging epidemic of iPhone and iPad fever is about to finish the job.
WOOD YOU BE MINE - You have to get up pretty early in the morning to put one over on cybersecurity pros. When we asked "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood," most respondents (59.4 percent) steered clear of the obvious red herrings "Lots," "Some," "None at all," "76 mfbm" and "This is a dumb question. Woodchucks can't chuck wood." Despite our clever attempts to distract them, the lion's share of those surveyed cleanly zeroed in on, "He'd chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could if a woodchuck could chuck wood." But of course.