Sunset: The Best Part of the Day

Two of Paul Scaini's passions are desktop computing and photography. As part of the ThinkCentre desktop team based in Beijing, in this post he looks through the lens at the future of desktop computing. Since I started as a commercial desktop product manager at Lenovo, I’ve received some razzing remarks about my product portfolio from friends, family and some of my laptop PC colleagues.  “You know you’re in a commodity business, right?”  “Desktops are a ‘sunset’ business.” “They still make desktop computers?”  Needless to say, I’ve gotten a lot of experience educating people as to why desktops are here to stay. Laptop form factors have changed much more than desktops – they’ve been getting slimmer, lighter and more powerful every year – and that’s brought them the majority of attention. By comparison, the traditional desktop tower looks basically the same as it did when 486 chips were cool. However, the ThinkCentre brand’s first All-in-One (AIO) form factor (the A70z) has brought some new excitement among customers about desktops.

Here are five reasons why desktops are here to stay:

1. Price: Simple fact: desktops are less expensive than their laptop cousins. Desktops still dominate the lower price bands. This is important to all companies, especially in emerging markets where the volume of desktops is higher and has a much higher growth rate.  Desktop sales in emerging markets are expected to grow by double-digits year-over-year from 2010-2011.  Large businesses that don’t have a large mobile workforce typically save even more money by reusing monitors until they stop working.  The question becomes, why pay more if you don’t need the mobility?

2. Power: You can’t compare the performance and power you get from a desktop computer to a laptop - full power quad core CPUs with the expansion slots for performance graphic cards and up to 4DIMMs of memory for up to 16GB.  Whether you’re using it for design, rendering or calculating DNA, sometimes a laptop just doesn’t pack enough power under the hood.

3. Security: Sometimes, you just don’t want that sensitive information leaving the room.  Aside from being much more difficult to tuck under your coat and walk away with, desktops are the choice for high-security work environments in government, security, healthcare and finance. There are padlocks and Kensington slots to keep the PC from being moved, and chassis intrusion switches alert users when the PC is opened. Hardware password protection/encryption helps prevent unauthorized access to information and USB disable tools locks all “doors” into and out of the PC.

4. Upgradable, Future-Proof and Legacy-Loving: Want to keep up with new technologies?  With desktops, there’s no reason to scrap your existing PC and start from scratch to keep up with technology. Upgrade your memory, add a graphics card and you’ve given your PC a longer life span. What about future technologies like USB 3.0 or WiFi in a desktop?  Adding this new technology is just an expansion card away. The same goes for customers who still require the same ports and drives you might see on an old ThinkCentre M52 and the ThinkCentre M80 announced in October.  Even if the latest chipsets do not support the technology anymore, there are always after-market options to help you get what you need. 

5. Multiple Displays: Some customers in financial services and graphic design need to see a massive amount of information at once to be productive. Just try and get eight independent displays running smoothly on a laptop. Whether you are considering desktop PCs for your business or as a holiday gift in the home, take a close look at the power, functionality, security and longevity that you need from your PC and you may find that a desktop is the best fit.

So desktops aren’t really a sunset business even though I think sunset is one of the most beautiful and exciting parts of the day.