The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
I believe the post-PC world is upon us. That is, PC computers, as we know them, are now slowly disappearing and will become museum pieces within the next ten years.
The term "PC computers" includes Windows and Macintosh desktop and laptop computers. It does not include tablet computers or Apple or Android "smartphones."
The term "post-PC" refers to the computing world after sales of desktop and laptop computers have slowed to a trickle.
Most industry pundits are predicting that both consumers and businesses will slowly replace desktop and laptop computers with cell phones, tablet computers, Google glasses, and other lightweight computing devices that haven't even been invented yet. In many cases, the ever-growing, high-speed wireless networks and cloud computing are allowing tiny, lightweight devices to replace traditional desktop systems. Having a powerful computer of your own is no longer essential; the power can exist either in your own computer or someplace in the cloud. In fact, today's tablet computers possess more computing power and a better display than the typical desktop computer of ten years ago. Who can guess what improvements will occur in the next ten years? How about twenty years?
To be sure, desktop and laptop computers are now and probably always will be more powerful than any handheld devices. However, I have to question how much power we need to track our ancestors, to read and write email, or to access our online bank accounts. We all have more computing power today than we need, whether that power resides on our desktop or remotely in the cloud. Likewise, all of us already have more storage space than we will ever need. In traditional computers, we can now purchase disk drives for $99 a terabyte (see http://goo.gl/ZMGJ4) or we can access infinite storage space securely in the cloud, paying low prices for only what we actually use.
My belief is that desktops and laptop computers eventually will be destined for the scrap heap. Lots of people agree. In fact, today's iPad and the latest Android tablets all have better displays than most desktop computers. Google's Glasses promise to provide even better (and bigger) displays than anything any of us have ever seen to date. (See http://goo.gl/yVXbP and http://goo.gl/HL6by.)
The only thing delaying the transition, in my mind, is that no one has yet invented a good replacement for the old-fashioned QWERTY-keyboard. Once a good, portable keyboard is invented, laptop and desktop computers will fade into oblivion.
I have seen lots of portable and miniaturized keyboards. However, I still have not seen one that works as well as the clickety-click IBM keyboard I had on my desktop PC twenty-five years ago.
Once a good, portable keyboard becomes available, what will happen to genealogy software vendors? Will we see the disappearance of Family Tree Maker, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, The Master Genealogist, Reunion, MacFamilyTree, AncestralQuest, and Family Historian?
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