Sunday, February 24, 2013

Post PC World - Auditing My Computing Time

I have been trying to figure out the proportion of activities I do on my two computers, a Android smartphone and a Mac OS X laptop. Traditionally, traditionally I used to use my smartphone mainly as a phone, personal organizer, and email, while my laptop did everything else.

In the past two years, things have change. The smartphone became much more capable and a unlimited and volume based data plans became available. Cloud storage became more substantial, and between Google Drive (work related files), Dropbox (personal files) and Box (pictures) all of my files are available on both of my devices. This has been a big equalizer. Before cloud storage, I would drag my laptop around just to have access to my files.

Breaking it down to what are “personal computer” activities it looks like this:

To-do list and updating my calendar - 100% on the smartphone. I did this on a phone, long before I had a laptop. 

Reading email - 90% on the smartphone. Email gets pushed to my smartphone and I get a notification, so I tend to read it from there, even if my laptop is running. 

Writing email - 80% on the smartphone. I send short emails and respond to most emails on my smartphone. I go to the laptop only when I plan to write a fairly long response, or if I happen to read the email while on using my laptop.

News and Social Networking (Twitter and Google+) - 90% on the smartphone. I check the news on my phone first thing in the morning. I only use my laptop to check Twitter or Google+ if I am doing something else and want to take a short break.

Web browsing - 75% on the laptop. I use both my devices to browse the web, but browsing the web on a 13.3-inch display is more fun, than doing it on 4.3-inches.

Blogging - 99.9% on the laptop. I have posted one blog posts on the smartphone using the Chrome browser, just to see if it could be done.

Photo editing -  50% on the smartphone. I don't edit pictures much When I share a picture on a social network, I edit it on my smartphone since that is the device I use for social networking. When I edit pictures for this blog, I blog on a laptop, so I edit pictures from the laptop.

Writing and editing documents, keeping notes and preparing spreadsheets - 95% on the laptop. While I have pretty good document editing software on my phone, I prefer to use my laptop for this job. I occasionally edit some documents on the smartphone. Pretty much 100% of the documents and spreadsheets I prepare are work related. When I prepare personal notes or record general information for future reference I do it on my mobile using Evernote.

Gaming - 100% on the smartphone. One caveat. I stopped playing computer games a long time ago. The smartphone basically got me back into gaming. Playing games on a smartphone is something I do to pass the time while waiting for a meeting or appointment. Off hand, I average only about 2 hours a week.

In terms of hours, I spend two hours on a smartphone per day, and between four to eight hours on a laptop. That's a lot of time. I need to get a life.

Seriously, most of the time on the laptop is work related, and the next biggest time sink is blogging. On weekends, my smartphone use is about the same, but my time on my laptop is usually down to about two hours. When I am out of town on vacation, I do not bring my laptop with me anymore.

What is the point of this type of exercise, it is to assess my computing needs. The smartphone has truly become a Swiss Army Knife of computing. It can actually take care of all my computing needs, if I had no other device available.

The limitations of a smartphone are screen size and the virtual keyboard which makes the small screen even more cramp. Yes, even a 5.5-inch display would still be small, and I type much faster with a physical keyboard.

If I did not prepare documents for a living (but I am not a writer, I just write a lot), and I did not blog, I would have little need for a physical keyboard, and I could do with just a smartphone and tablet. I think this situation is true for a lot of people, and in that sense, we really are in a Post PC world. PC makers, will really need to get into the tablet game.

Me, I need a laptop, but really these days the cheapest laptops would do. I never paid a premium price for a personal computer for more power or storage. I did pay more for portability. Small 11 to 12 inch ultraportables and light 13-inch laptops used to be available only at a premium price awhile back. Now 11.6-inch laptops are available for cheap, and Sleekbooks or Slimbooks flood the market. Because of the availability of low cost portables, when it comes time to replace my laptop, I will spend about 40-50% of what I would have before. If the Chromebook becomes available locally, I would even spend less than that just 20% of what I used to spend on a laptop. I think my situation is true for a fair number, so not only do PC makers have to deal with competition from tablets, but also a consumer base willing to spend less on their next computer.

Tablets themselves aren't all that expensive, so whether you choose a tablet or a laptop, you will be throwing less money at consumer electronics. With less revenue headed the way PC makers, I think we may see a lot of are old favorite brands fall be the wayside.

Just some random thought on a early Sunday morning. 

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