Cloud pushing PCs away from the digital centre-stage: Gartner

The growing prevalence of the Internet will push the beloved personal computer to the sidelines, new prediction from technology market research firm Gartner says.

“The reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate access device is coming to a close, and by 2014, the personal cloud will replace the personal computer at the center of users’ digital lives,” Gartner said today.

The reason for the demise of the personal computer will be, ironically, all-pervasive computing. As smartphones, TVs, tablets and even refrigerators become more and more powerful, most of the data and computing will move away from the device and onto the Internet — or the Cloud.

Once the data and the computing shifts to the cloud, the access device, such as the phone, does not need to be as powerful as a computer and can be a light device, such as a TV or a set top box.

“Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life,” says Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner.

“Many call this era the post-PC era, but it isn’t really about being ‘after’ the PC, but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives,” Kleynhans added.

Helping the move are various trends such as Virtualization and the emergence of Mobile devices.

Virtualization, or the ability to emulate different operating systems and environments on each other, has freed applications from the peculiarities of individual devices, operating systems or even processor architectures. It has provided a way to move the legacy of applications and processes developed in the PC era forward into the new emerging world. This provides low-power devices access to much-greater processing power, thus expanding their utility and increasing the reach of processor-intensive applications, Gartner noted.

And Mobile devices: touch- and gesture-based user experiences, coupled with speech and contextual awareness, are enabling rich interaction with devices and a much greater level of freedom. At any point in time, and depending on the scenario, any given device will take on the role of the user’s primary device — the one at the center of the user’s constellation of devices.

“In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself,” Kleynhans added.