Change In the Past 5 Years – PC vs. Mobile

When I look back 5 years I noticed that the speed of change in the PC sector is quite different from what happened in mobile. Going back 5 years to the 2008/2009 timeframe, Windows Vista was the dominating (but not very much loved) operating system and 2009 saw the launch of the not so different (but much more loved) Windows 7 that still dominates the PC today. Also, I still use the notebook I bought back in 2008 for what it was intended at the time, as a desktop PC replacement. It has a dual core Intel Centrino CPU, 4 GB RAM and a 256 GB hard disk. Performance wise it plays DVDs and streams video content just as my latest and greatest notebook does. From a user input response point of view it doesn't feel any different in terms of speed to the machine I mostly use today. This switch, however, was not made because the machine has become inadequate performance wise but because it was bought as a desktop replacement without mobility in mind that I need today.

It's not that there haven't been advances in the technology in the past 5 years in this sector but they pale in comparison to what happened in mobile. Back in the 2008/09 timeframe, Symbian and Windows Mobile were the dominating operating systems at the time. While Windows 7 is still alive and kicking on the desktop, those two mobile operating systems are pretty much extinct by now having been replaced by mobile operating systems such as the Linux based Android OS that launched in the 2008. When you think about how Android looked then and what it's capabilities were and compare it to today the difference is truly remarkable. If you don't remember how the first Android looked like, have a look at the picture that is part of the Wikipedia article on the HTC Dream, the first Android device. From a hardware point of view, change has also been remarkable. The first Android device was launched with 192 MB of RAM compared to the 1 or 2 GB of memory high end devices feature today. Mobile processors have evolved from a 500 MHz single core architecture to 1 to 2 GHz dual or quad core architectures with much improved processor design. Mobile GPU capabilities have risen even more dramatically and the original 320×480 screen resolution is at best only found in very low end mobile devices today.

The point I want to make with this comparison: There has surely been a lot of innovation in the PC and notebook sector but devices bought 5 years ago are still in service today and work well on a 5 year old operating system version that still dominates the market. In the mobile space the pace was much quicker and smartphones bought 5 years ago are nowhere to be seen anymore as capabilities of current devices have improved so much that people were willing to upgrade at least once or twice to a new device during that timeframe.

This makes me wonder if we'll see the same innovation speed in mobile in the next 5 years or whether it will slow to a rate similar to what can been seen in the desktop/notebook market. And if this is the case will there be a "next big thing" during that timeframe?

2 thoughts on “Change In the Past 5 Years – PC vs. Mobile”

  1. Come to think of it, today we’re further away from the introduction of the original iPad (2010), than the original iPad was from the original iPhone (2007).

  2. Nice comparison. Tim Cook says they’re on the verge of the next big thing…

    Watches, wearable PCs, brain extensions, who knows? But as usual it will be expensive at first before becoming mainstream and more powerful… and then eventually boring, just like laptops have become.

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