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Portable Devices Versus Laptop and Desktop PCs
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Link-Up Digital

In the constantly changing digital world, small portable digital devices such as smartphones and tablets continue to gain, though desktop and laptop personal computers are still to be reckoned with.

Google, the country’s largest search company, announced in May 2015 that for the first time the number of mobile Google searches in the US surpassed the number of searches conducted with personal computers.

Partly in response to this trend, in April Google began penalizing websites that aren’t available in mobile-friendly versions by ranking them lower in search results by those using mobile devices. Google sent emails to sites it deemed weren’t mobile-friendly. It offers web developers its free Mobile-Friendly Test tool, with developers responsible for enacting any changes.

Verizon, the country’s largest telecommunications company, is also making waves with mobile. In May it announced plans to acquire AOL, the once mighty online service that got millions of people connected for the first time over dial-up telephone lines in the 1990s.

AOL may be a shadow of its former self, but it’s strong these days in the mobile and video advertising spaces, and it’s for this reason that Verizon is going after it. AOL owns technology for automating ads using computer algorithms that target specific audiences as well as a real-time bidding platform that helps advertisers place video ads.

Formerly known as America Online, AOL also owns the popular websites Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget. And despite the emergence of broadband Internet access 15 years ago, AOL still has 2.1 million dial-up subscribers. The Verizon-AOL deal is expected to be completed in a matter of months if regulators approve. AOL would become a Verizon subsidiary.

Despite the popularity of mobile, consumers, businesses, and other organizations continue to buy millions of desktop and laptop PCs. But this market continues to slowly shrink. Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.7 million units in the first quarter of 2015, according to estimates by market research firm Gartner. But this was a 5.2% drop from a year earlier.

Desktop PCs led the decline, with sales of laptop PCs actually growing. Gartner is predicting a moderate drop in overall PC shipments for all of 2015 but “slow, consistent growth” over the next five years.

Lenovo and HP were the only two PC makers among the top five that experienced an increase in overall PC shipments in first quarter 2015, according to Gartner. HP and Dell, in order, sell the most PCs in the US, though Lenovo and HP sell the most worldwide. HP and Dell are followed in US sales by Apple, Lenovo, and Asus.

Much about the future of PCs depends on the success of Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 10, which should be available on new PCs and as an optional upgrade to existing PCs this summer. With Windows 10, Microsoft has moved away from the Windows 8 tablet interface hated by so many PC users and rediscovered a PC interface. The company is also breaking with its tradition and making upgrades to it from Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 for free.

Portability has its advantages, but larger portable devices such as laptop PCs and stationary devices such as desktop PCs let you do certain tasks faster and with less stress to your body.

A larger screen makes it possible to see more and is easier on your eyes and neck. Typing on a larger, separate keyboard is faster and is easier on your hands and wrists. Larger devices have faster processors and more memory and storage space, which can make them more appropriate when working on photos, video, and music, doing computer-aided design and computer programming, and playing computer games. Larger devices typically also let you work on more than one task more conveniently.

Nonetheless, there’s a certain magic to portability. Here’s just one example that really drives home how a small device can help you get around. It’s the Apple Maps Dropped Pin trick for finding where you parked your car. Before you leave your parked car, turn on your iPhone and open Maps. Tap the location arrow at the bottom left to highlight your location. Tap the i button at the bottom right, then tap “Drop a Pin.” Exit Maps and turn off your phone. To get back to your car, turn on your phone and reopen Maps. Tap “Dropped Pin” then “Directions to Here” to get walking directions. When you’re back to your car, tap “Remove Pin.”

You can employ a similar trick with an Android phone and Google Maps.


Reid Goldsborough is a syndicated columnist and author of the book Straight Talk About the Information Superhighway. He can be reached at reidgoldsborough@gmail.com or reidgold.com.


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