While financial pundits decried Facebook’s billion-dollar purchase of Instagram this week, the New York Times posed a far more arresting question: Were we witnessing the symbolic end of the PC era?
In the Times article, “A Billion Dollar Turning Point for Mobile Apps,” writer Jenna Wortham detailed how smartphones and tablets have shifted the consumer focus from the web browser to “self-contained social worlds, existing almost entirely on mobile devices.” An excerpt:
“For decades, the center of computing has been the desktop, and software was modeled after the experience of using a typewriter,” said Georg Petschnigg, a former Microsoft employee who is one of the creators of Paper, a new sketchbook app for the iPad. “But technology is now more intimate and pervasive than that. We have it with us all the time, and we have to reimagine innovative new interfaces and experiences around that.”
Of course, IT pros are well aware that mobile app development comes with its own unique considerations and frameworks to master. The native sensibility of the touchscreen UI will soon become standard, exposing the awkward retrofit of apps conceived for the UI of a mouse cursor. Developers must now build to accommodate the lower file weight required for the mobile device bandwidth, and the need to support diverse platforms from Apple – Android – iOS to the emerging tech players (Windows, anyone?)
We asked Tim Connolly, CTO of Questcon Technologies and our in-house guru of All Things Development, for his take on the mobile evolution:
“When I first started my career in technology in the early 90′s, there were scary people working with huge IBM Mainframes that were in a room hidden away that no one was allowed to see. These days all of the computer power and more can be found on your phone in your pocket!
“Today, a career in mobile software development allows you to harness that technology power and figure out how to use it in mainstream society. Just look around on your commute and you will see almost everyone using the phone or tablet to plan their workday, read the news or make real-time connections. I feel the opportunities are limitless for the next generation of software developers.”
We’re with Tim – and boning up on our HTML5. Tell us what you think – is there still a place for PCs in a transient culture? Leave a comment here or @SoftwareQA.