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PC的身份危机

PC的身份危机

Dan Mitchell 2013年03月06日
传统PC的身份界定正在变得越来越模糊。移动技术的发展和触屏的出现一天天地颠覆着个人电脑的传统概念。平板电脑、智能手机的兴起不仅极大的挤压了传统PC的生存空间,同时也改变了消费者对个人电脑的认知。

    “什么是PC?”——虽然这个问题早在iPad问世之前就已经让分析人士和业内观察人士困扰多时,但iPad的问世使他们的困扰陡然加深。这个问题并不是简简单单就能回答得了的。从某种程度上讲,讨论它只是浪费口舌,但是要想分析市场行情和公司业绩,这个问题又非同小可。

    多年来,平板电脑和智能手机一直在挤占PC的销售市场。这是因为,对于很多人来说,这些新潮而精巧的小机器已经具备他们需要的所有PC(包括笔记本电脑)功能,比如收发邮件、浏览网页、观看视频。但是总体上讲,它们有些功能还无法与强大的PC相匹敌,比如视频剪辑、发烧游戏和编程。很多消费者依然想要、或者需要一台笔记本或台式机。

    把智能手机定义为“PC”乍听之下或许有些愚蠢。但是很多潜在的PC买家之所以没有买PC,而是买了智能手机,就是因为他们需要计算设备实现的所有功能,智能手机都已经具备。至于平板电脑,那就更不用说了——而且它还会越来越受欢迎,因为平板电脑同PC的差异一直在缩小(甚至手机也是如此)。用不了多久,我们当中就会有很多人出门带着PC的替代品当平板电脑使,回到家后就把它插上电源、接上键盘,这样它就变成了一台功能齐全的PC。

    平板电脑与PC的界限之所以一天天变得模糊,硬件和软件制造商或许也起到了推波助澜的作用。微软(Microsoft)新推出的Windows 8操作系统既可以安装在传统的笔记本PC上,也可以安装在与手势触控兼容的平板界面上。苹果(Apple)的Mac OS操作系统也融入了iOS的一些特性,而iOS是让数以百万计的iPad、iPod和iPhone发挥强大功能的操作系统。不过,目前苹果公司尚未推出任何可触屏的笔记本或台式机。硬件制造商在竞争对手的围追堵截下则纷纷借鉴平板电脑和笔记本,采用触屏科技和超薄封装。这些所谓的翻转本,比如联想(Lenovo)的Ideapad Yoga,既可以做笔记本,也可以当平板电脑,因为它们的屏幕可以360度翻转。

    现在,人们对PC的概念已是一头雾水。想想市场研究公司和证券分析师是怎么衡量计算机市场行情的吧。去年,市场研究公司Canalys宣布,苹果已成为全球最大的PC制造商,但这只是把平板电脑(也就是它所说的“pad”)算进PC中的结果。Canalys表示,“Pad”的销量占所有PC销量的四分之一左右。

    The question "What is a PC?" has been bemusing analysts and industry observers since long before the introduction of the iPad -- but especially since. The answer is not so simple. In some ways, it's a question of mere rhetoric. But when it comes to analyzing markets and companies, it becomes a lot more than that.

    Tablets and smartphones have been cutting into PC sales for years. That's because for many people, the newer gadgets do everything they had previously counted on PCs -- including laptops -- for: email, Web browsing, watching video. But in general, they don't do everything that powerful PCs can do or not quite as well, such as video editing, hardcore gaming, programming. Many consumers still want or need a laptop or a desktop machine.

    It might sound silly at first to define a smartphone as a "PC." But lots of people who otherwise might have purchased a PC have opted instead for a smartphone, since it does everything they in particular need from a computing device. That's even more true of tablets -- and it will be increasingly so as the differences between tablets, even phones, and PCs narrow. Soon enough, many of us will be carrying the equivalent of a PC around with us to use as a tablet when we're mobile, and then plugging it in at home, attaching it to a keyboard, and using it as a fully functional PC.

    Hardware and software makers may have helped blur the distinction. Microsoft's (MSFT) new Windows 8 operating system can be operated like a traditional desktop PC or via a tablet-like interface that is compatible with touch and gestures. Apple's (AAPL) Mac OS, meanwhile, has adopted some features of iOS, the operating system powering millions of iPads, iPods, and iPhones, though the company doesn't currently sell any touchscreen enabled desktops or laptops. And beleaguered hardware manufacturers have adopted touchscreen technology and ultrathin packages that draw from both tablets and laptops. These so-called convertible laptops, like Lenovo's Ideapad Yoga, double as both because their screens can be flipped back and forth.

    For the moment, the PC is confused. Consider how market researchers and stock analysts often measure the computer market. Last year, the research firm Canalys declared that Apple had become the world's largest maker of PCs. But that was only because the firm included tablets (which it called "pads") in its findings. "Pads," Canalys said, made up about a quarter of all sales of PCs.

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