05.3 – Personal Computing Architecture – Current computing technologies positioning! – As of – 2013-04-11

Personal computing technologies evolve rapidly. For this reason, one needs to regularly reassess its personal computing environment. The following blog reflect my current thinking on this subject. I invite you to read, from the beginning, the whole series of “Architecture” articles to get a feel for why you need to constantly adapt your own personal computing environment to take advantage of the current technology product offerings.

Current Computing Technology Products Categories

Below you will find a diagram picturing the main personal computing technologies and the positioning of their main product lines to assist in determining which strategy different types of users should adopt. For better understanding, I will describe the approach that best fits my currents requirements, as an example.

Blog-2013-04-11

As per the above diagram, there are three major players based on their Operating Systems. They are: Apple, Microsoft and Google. Both Apple and Microsoft (along with numerous hardware manufacturers) offer a complete product line, from phones to desktops. Google (along with numerous hardware manufacturers) covers mostly the phone and tablet markets, plus the Chrome Book/Box, which currently represents a tentative entry into a future market where the Browser becomes the operating system. The success of this new approach is yet to be determined.

APPLE

Apple has been the dominant market player for the last several years following a series of innovations such as: the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad running iOS, in addition to its computer product line. Apple has changed the personal computing market forever. Now everyone else is playing catch up and are succeeding. Apple was very smart in understanding that its buyers needed education. The Apple stores, where Apple can teach its gospel to new users, are a major component of Apple’s success.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, learning a new technology represents the greatest investment anyone makes in technology. Once you know Apple’s technology, why would anyone want to start from scratch with a different technology?

Apple being the sole supplier of both its hardware and software has been a major contributor to Apple’s profitability up to now. Generally, Apple products are costlier that its competitors for comparable performance. Apple’s strategy has always been to have a captive market. This has been armful to Apple in the past. Will it be in the future? These factors may limit Apple’s dominance of the market. A prime example is the smart phone market where Apple is now far behind Android.

With such a strategy, Apple will need to continue coming out with new revolutionary technologies before everyone else, as it has done in the past several years. The concern right now is that very little has come out of Apple since Steve Jobs’ death.

MICROSOFT

As in the past, Microsoft has rarely been the innovator. It adopted an open approach early on which has been very critical to its success. Having an army of companies producing Windows based products becomes a formidable force to wrestle with for competitors like Apple.

Again this time, Microsoft only came out with a full product line based on Windows 8, to compete with Apple, in the fall of 2012. This is several years after Apple had gained the lead. This represents an uphill battle that Microsoft will have to wrestle with in the coming years.

In the consumer arena, I think that Apple will continue to dominate for quite a while. Its Apple Stores, as mentioned earlier, are critical here. In the corporate arena, Microsoft has real potential but it will take quite a while. The corporate arena has HUGE investments in Microsoft technology and it moves very slowly. For example, many corporations were converting to Windows 7 last year when Windows 8 became available. Few will convert to Apple in my opinion. The corporations would need to re-train all their personnel: a mammoth investment not counting the drain on profits during that period plus the costs of replacing all their computing technology products. Forget it! Corporate IT will not let this happen!

As mentioned several times in previous articles, the most important investment that each one of us, including corporations, make in technology is the investment in time and effort it takes to learn and master each of these technologies. Therefore, once someone has invested years in getting proficient with one main technology, that person must think twice before jumping into a completely different technology. This means that if you have been an Apple user and you master the Apple products, stay with Apple. The same is true if you master the Microsoft products, stay with Microsoft.

The only difference is with the phone and tablet market. Since Microsoft was absent, Google with Android took a major lead and now dominates this market. Furthermore, the Google products are compatible with the Microsoft technologies. Therefore, an hybrid environment with Google and Microsoft products can be very appealing. Both have an open market approach with multiple manufacturers selling their technologies.

Some people may also continue to use their iPhone and iPad with Android and  Microsoft products, if they by now master this Apple technology, since there are bridges to accommodate the synchronization of the data. Not ideal in my opinion, but livable.

Where do I stand currently?

If you have read my previous architecture article 05.2 – Personal Computing Architecture – Updated – 2012-10-15, you would have noticed that my inclination was to adopt Windows 8 and buy a laptop/tablet hybrid product: the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro.

Since then, I have installed and experimented with Windows 8 on my current laptop only to realize that my use of Windows 8 is mainly to do Windows 7 type work: mainly Word, Excel,… I do not use the tiles since I have no need to be constantly updated on the weather, the stock market, or any other real time information. Therefore, why should I convert to Windows 8 on all my devices? The cost to replace my two powerful desktops each with two very large none tactile monitors and one powerful laptop with none tactile monitor would be significant with little to gain.

During this time, Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 10.1 with 4G network. It is just coming out right now. This is a powerful tablet (four core processor) that would answer most of my tablet needs. The combination of these two events made me rethink my approach.

What are my current needs?

Before jumping into the next product that comes to market, we always need to have a good understanding of our needs. Currently, I am very satisfied with my two desktops computers running Windows 7 and laptop running Windows 8 (in Windows 7 mode). Therefore, I don’t need to change anything in that arena. I can stay abreast with what’s happening in the Windows 8 market with my laptop.

On the phone/tablet side, I have been using, for the last year and half now, a Samsung Galaxy Note 1 which continues to amaze me. This large phone/small tablet (also called “phablet”) allows me to do most of what I need, anytime and anywhere. The only limitations are the size of the screen and keyboard to do serious laptop replacement type work while away from home/office.

This was the reason I was looking at the Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro last fall. It had the screen size and the keyboard and mouse capabilities I needed while away from home, at a desk in a hotel for example. I also needed, while on the road, the tablet size real estate for serious work along with the tablet type application for locating something anywhere anytime.

The new Galaxy Note 10.1 with 4G network has the right size to carry around and offers more than I currently have on my Samsung Galaxy Note 1. Since I highlight and annotate most of the texts I read, the S Pen capabilities are important for me and are impressive on the new Note 10.1. The hand writing conversion to text capabilities may also be quite useful.

The important thing, once again, is that I can capitalize on my knowledge of my Samsung Galaxy Note 1 and continue to enhance my expertise since the new Note 10.1 is a ”Note” product running essentially the same software as the Note 1.

Furthermore, from the research I have done on the internet, I can attach a small travel type keyboard and a mouse to do Office type work while traveling, in WiFi or cellular mode, with a small footprint (weight and space) in my travel luggage. Essentially, I can have all the benefits of the available tablet applications plus the Office capabilities when needed while traveling. There might be some restrictions for applications such as Quicken (although the tablet version is evolving rapidly) and other apps that don’t come to mind right now.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above, even though I believe that the corporate world will mostly go with Windows 8, I think that it will take much longer than Microsoft would like it to be. For me personally, Windows 8 does not currently offer much with regards to my current needs. Furthermore,  the functionality and ease of use of a real tablet, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, better answer my requirements while away from my desk. For these reasons, I have decided to go with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 unlocked 4G, as soon as I can get my hands on one. I will most probably have to order it from outside North America, since the phone companies control the market in these countries and you cannot currently buy an unlocked 4G. I already have purchased all the accessories including the keyboard, mouse, 64 Gb micro SD card, and case.

With an estimated sticker price at around $750 and a $150 in accessories, it is more economical then a Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro ($1,200 + $150 in accessories), plus the replacement costs of my two desktops estimated at $3,000 (with two 28” monitors each), plus the cost of the software and accessories, for a total over $5,000.

I should start using the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 during the second week of May 2013. Once I have had a chance to experiment this approach I will publish the results in a coming blog along with practical advises. Furthermore, I currently plan to buy a Chrome Book or Box to learn and experiment with this new approach. I plan to publish the results in coming blogs along with some practical advises. Stay tuned!

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