Do We Really Need Connected PCs?
Thinking from the standpoint of a consumer for one second, my simple answer to the question above is this: No. No we don’t need laptops and computers that are LTE or 5G enabled that can connect to a mobile network. And the reason why is fairly simple. I—again as a consumer here—don’t want to have to worry about paying for one more device just for it to be connected to the internet all the time.
Already, consumers pay for mobile phones, laptops, and smartwatches to connect directly to a mobile network. In each of those cases, the different devices serve a specific purpose and make sense to have a network connectivity option. In the case of a laptop computer? My gut tells me we’re just starting to experience some sort of overkill here. I’d even go out on a limb to suggest that tablets are a bit of a stretch, but I won’t go off on that tangent.
The whole reason this conversation is happening in my head, and as I type this out, is because I just left the Microsoft keynote here at IFA 2018 in Berlin, where the company talked about all of its latest computing offerings, what its device manufacturer partners are creating around the Windows software environment, and where the company plans to head in the future with its computing products. Much of the conversation revolved around where the company is going, in terms of artificial intelligence and how AI can improve the user experience. But that’s when Erin Chapple, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows Server, Always Connected PCs, and OS Platform Technologies, brought up connected PCs.
“We believe connected computing is the backbone for a successful mobile workplace,” she said during the keynote.
In particular, Chapple showed off the Lenovo Yoga C630 WOS, an always-connected laptop that boasts a ton of great features, including 25-hour battery life.
But it’s this always connected aspect that I keep getting hung up on. In theory, the idea of always being connected sounds great, and is the goal of technology—and 5G whenever we finally get there. But do we really need to be paying for it with our laptops?
During her presentation Chapple mentioned the hassle that hotspots are, but really that right there is the perfect explanation as to why you don’t need an always connected laptop. COnsumers are already paying a lot of money each month for a smartphone plan, and those plans—especially if you’re an iPhone or flagship Android phone user—already include mobile hotspots. So, there are billions of users around the globe walking around with mobile hotspots in their pockets that could easily get their laptops online. Problem solved?
The idea that the added convenience of having connectivity built into a product is worth $5, $10, $15 a month, or whatever a laptop LTE plan will end up costing just doesn’t do it for me. We’ve seen plenty of ways to innovate the mobile PC market here in Berlin through design, improved screens, and other added functionality. But making them always-connected devices feels a bit misguided and not the least bit innovative.