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Gartner Goes Out on a Cloud Limb

How does an analyst firm get attention? By making bold predictions and hoping we won't check back to see if they come true.

Gartner is the king of this game. It's made more predictions than Carnac the Magnificent! I remember when the company estimated that the cost of just managing a PC would take around $10,000 -- and this was back when $10,000 was real money!

Now the company claims that in two short years the PC will be essentially irrelevant.

What are these analysts doing, channeling Scott McNealy and Larry Ellison, circa 1990?

It said the personal cloud would make the PC about as necessary as fins on a donkey. All your apps and data would reside in the ether for you to retrieve through a phone, tablet and even that outdated  PC.

Here's the problem: You can set up pivot tables on a cell phone, and you can't write a 20-page proposal on a 10-inch tablet with a touch key pad. And all the hard core apps for hard core productivity run on either a PC or a Mac. Tablets, phones and even netbooks don't replace anything -- they just give you an extra option.

And what enterprise in their right mind would let data be stored in personal clouds and accessed by a willy nilly assortment of devices? One that doesn't mind going out our business, I reckon.

The PC is becoming less important, but news of its death has always been greatly exaggerated.

Should we do more to hold analysts' feet to the fire when their nonsensical predictions fall flat? Say what you will at

Posted by Doug Barney on 03/23/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Sun, Apr 1, 2012 Adrian Pettitt UK

The PC (physical) is becoming more irrelevant, and I have been saying this for a couple of years, it will be this decade. But 2 years is a bit soon. Tablets are a dead tech as well IMHO (but not just yet), but I may still buy one. We will end up docking our phones connecting to 20" screens, keyboards and mice. For really high end (CAD etc) work we will use VPCs. Perhaps we will use glasses for screens in an even more distant future with virtual keyboards or even better voice input.

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 Seriously Outer Rings

Dateline: January 13, 2010 "Gartner issues its own 2012 prediction: end of IT as we know it" How's that working out?

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 David

I guess this means the bandwidth issues on wireless devices will be solved in 2 years. No more ATT throttling. Sweet! ..or maybe not.

Mon, Mar 26, 2012 Ron Batavia

I have been in IT, in one industry or another, for more years that I will admit. However, I find any commentary that a PC will be irrelevant in two years to by hypocritical. Systems will morph as we see more touch screen and voice activation BUT neither will be perfected in the next TWO years. The technology, hardware, security and adoption have a lot of growing to do yet. I have to admit I am becoming more comfortable with touch/voice and would love to see some of it make a jump in light years but it isn't going to happen. Also the cloud is still in need of a good solid definition that people can and will trust. I own both Apple and Window devices, I have worked on Unix, LINUX and OS/2 but the hardware and O/S are usually always out of sync in terms of capability and limitations, so sorry Gartner this prediction may be off by a decade or two or three? I believe there is plenty of innovative thought in the industry but there are too many different standards and protocols that compete and impede to make the PC disappear.

Sun, Mar 25, 2012 Bruce DeLand

PC irrelevant, eh? OK... Then my evening was just interrupted. I'm reading this thread on my iPad while sitting at my i7 desktop ripping audio from old vinyl. If the PC just became irrelevant then I can't do this, convert any more VHS tapes to DVD or continue developing several software projects I'm working on. Cut the crap Gartner... The PC ain't going anywhere.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 Bob

Back in the day, I attended a Gartner presentation where they said that Microsoft Windows would never amount to much, and OS2 was the way to go. Since then, they haven't been right about much else. I don't understand how they're still in business.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

I should add that there are a LOT of E-suites that do not want the rank-and-file, the shareholders, the market, or the SEC to have any idea of the true state of the corporation's finances, the expenditures being made, the shortcuts being taken, or the compensation being paid. Looked out the window of your jet lately? Hard to see what is going on in a "cloud"...and if there is no local IT drifting through it, no one is likely to hear any whistles blowing outside of it.

Sat, Mar 24, 2012 ibsteve2u Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Don't underestimate Gartner's tactics and consequential clout: Once upon a time, there wasn't any outsourcing/offshoring; then Gartner began claiming "everybody is doing it". Next thing you know, the E-suite herd was spooked into a stampede. As corporations have discovered in the case of outsourcing/offshoring, whether or not forcing a corporation away from the PC yields any long-term benefit or is in fact a restraint on growth and flexibility is irrelevant once the herd begins moving.

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 Larryz smAlbany

It's almost like we have to decide to separate the peripherals (keyboard, screen, storage) from the system (desktop) to make a PC less environment. However actual implementations require all systems and their peripherals to fit the work environment. Already I am seeing the accessorizing of the iPad. Rather than carrying a notebook, people carry an iPad in a fold over case and a keyboard. This allows two accessories to be created for every iPad. This accessorizing stems from the consumerization of the iPad entry. However real implementation requires basic features such as waterproof and stain proof data entry. Also appliance type warranties with instant swap outs. Are these the expectations of the iPad or any consumer approach? So what is selling it today is inertia. Like a self fulfilling prophecy, it works well on the upside and equivalently on the downside. I was discussing a decision by a POS solution provider today. We agreed that the iPad represented an uptick equivalent to a 2 year or 2 software refresh cycles in the Windows world. As his POS systems typically run in ten year cycles, he debated "did he want to change client expectation now forever, based on the current iPad deliverable solution?" We discussed the cost of remorse, and the risks involved. He came to the conclusion that he needs to add the higher replacement and service costs into the iPad solution. After that review he felt he would wait for his current vendors to go through one software refresh with his standard tablet offering. I believe it was some form of Android. That was a business decision he came to after our discussion. I do not know if that is the right decision, but it does seem early to flip to an iPad ecosystem based on consumer demand. Real solutions cannot be delegated to strictly consumer devices, as they cannot be delegated to Internet based solution only. As such the current irrational exuberance will continue a minimum of 24 months. The challenge now is to install non-tablets where value can be created from stationary workers. The reliability value of the Microsoft desktop stack has never been such a contrast to alternative systems. Tablet vendors including Microsoft will deliver touch to match swipe. Until then this is the last hurrah, unless Obamacare wins. Then it's a minimum of four years, because of the social media need for Apple tablets and content delivery.

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 Bubba

Isn't that quaint? IBM is still selling mainframes, although not as many as in their prime,and the PC was supposed to kill all that big iron off 20 years ago. Tablets & Smartphones are just more headaches for IT pros to manage and secure.

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 Marc Philly

I am a Developer, a Programmer for quite some time. I have never worked on a system that was powerful enough. When our devices catch-up to where our HPC Workstations are now, our Workstations will be that much greater. I work with a Team that collaborates with other Teams. I would hate to have to slow down to Wireless access speeds for my real work; Internet speeds close to 100 Mbs, or cellular 4G ? We transfer files and exchange Database records currently at 10 Gb/s (100 Gb/s has been developed). So for us, and our kind, the PC is far from dead. It's not the end of the PC era, but the era of multi-device computing. Always having access. I use a tablet, but for online Research, noting ideas, email- not Heavy-Lifting.

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 Seriously. Outer Rings

The desktop is still king and the smartphone a pawn. Who manages whom?

Fri, Mar 23, 2012 Stuart Los Angeles

I work in education and this reminds me of a prediction someone made last year. This person stated that word processing was dead (Word, Google Docs, etc.) and that we should not be teaching it in schools. I certainly wouldn't send my child to that school!

Fri, Mar 23, 2012

Irrelevant? Hmm, I guess all businesses are shutting down. All the big corporations and even the little guys. Or does Gartner think everyone will be using ipads. You know, the things that are cool to play games on and watch movies on but, um, you can't do any real work on. I have to say Gartner is full of it this time.

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