• Ewaste or usable – week 3

    Do I need a traditional computer in the future?

    Week 1 here

    Week 2 here

    So this week I’m going to pause and ponder.  I’m going to ask the question …. do we NEED a computer?  Not necessarily a Windows computer, or even a Linux computer mind you. But do you NEED a traditional desktop or laptop to fit your needs? The answer for those of you currently using a traditional computer is probably yes. For now. But I want you to think about your needs in the future. Because I’m going to challenge you to tell me what application you currently use that needs a traditional computer (keyboard and monitor).

    If your primary need for your computer is email and surfing, you may want to consider something like a Galaxy Tab  or other tablet style of platform. Now that said, I still come across retail web sites that just act weird on a Safari browser on an ipad and I have to flip over to a normal computer.  So sometimes mobile browsers don’t act the same … or rather web sites aren’t coded up correctly to handle mobile browsers.

    But this is changing as more and more people are moving to smart phones  and tablets versus using computers. There are (supposedly) 6.648 Billion with a B smart phones in the world. There are only 1.4 billion Windows devices. I personally know several people that have no Windows devices at home and only have android tablets and phones.

    Now I will be the first to admit that depending on my needs I can live without a ten key while I’m travelling, but living without a keyboard is hard. I have no idea how the kids “thumb” their way through their smart phone and can quickly compose something. Now that probably explains the number of typos and how everyone has lousy handwriting these days, but I’m definitely of the generation that I am not productive even answering an email without a QWERTY keyboard.

    Now these days you can get keyboards that connect via bluetooth to tablets and even Kindle devices that allow you to have a QWERTY experience with a tablet so that you can get the composing ability you need when you are in my age group.

    But think about what drives you to have a traditional computer, and specifically what drives you to have a Windows computer? For businesses, it’s much more clear cut, we have legacy business software that requires us to stay on Windows (or remote into one). This is one of the reasons we still have so many security issues with Windows, it’s these years of legacy code that backwards compatibility demands. At one point in time Apple had the advantage due to the fact that Apple started over and threw out their legacy. These days they are ticking up in security issues so they are starting to have their own “legacy” issues and getting more targeted especially on the mobile platform.

    At home we may have less need for older legacy software that is unique to the Windows platform. Or if the software is under active development, they are moving to web based or mobile options (case in point, Turbotax has both a web version and a Mac version).

    In small businesses what I’m seeing is that my vendors are pivoting to subscription models that are getting increasingly expensive and thus making the cost analysis between the subscription web and the now mandated subscription desktop software such that the desktop is now getting prettttttyyyyyyy expensive.  I’m specifically thinking of QuickBooks. A few years ago QuickBooks Enterprise moved to a subscription model. This year for 2022 they moved normal QuickBooks desktop to the subscription model as well. So in the past if a small business needed QuickBooks and payroll, you would buy QuickBooks desktop once every two and a half years along with the yearly QuickBooks payroll subscription.  It was an acceptable cost of doing business. Now you have to pay an annual subscription for QuickBooks AND for QuickBooks payroll. Needless to say QuickBooks desktop’s price tag just went way way up. So the vendors are now slowly moving/pushing us firstly to subscription models and then secondly to web only platforms.  More and more people are asking around if there are accounting alternatives (hint there are some like Wave and Xero but again, they are web based and thus don’t demand windows). Even Microsoft keeps pushing us to subscription and web versions rather than the “sticky” desktop software.

    So my question to you is…. why do you need a traditional computer?  What specifically keeps you on the traditional desktop or laptop form? What can you not do on a tablet or mobile phone?  What software do you use that will only work on the traditional desktop or laptop format?