(Sorry to do this, but Skarka’s rant about the shrinking industry was just too bad/good not to parody. This is entirely a work of humor, and certainly does not reflect my actual opinions as part of the technology industry.)
It’s undeniable that the computer industry in shrinking. Fewer computers means fewer users, which means the internet will die by 2017.
Of course computer users and the professional computer community won’t tell you that. You’ll get a combination of anecdotal evidence (“There’s a computer in every library, most homes, and many peoples’ pockets!”) and One True Way Purity (“Computers are the future!”). Mixed into this is the always-charming assertion that “users don’t need the industry.” (Never mind asking auch geniuses to ponder how people will know what a computer is without products to buy to get their attention.)
Take a look at this: web client information for August 2010. The top OS, Windows XP, makes up just about 46% of the traffic.
Think about that for a minute: the top used OS in the world gets only 46% of the traffic. Back in 2005, a strong OS would make up nearly 85% of internet traffic.
So yeah, the computer market is shrinking. We’re losing users to other formats, like books or roleplaying games, that offer more and more of what computers used to: the ability to connect to other people on common ground, rich content. It’s not really a surprise that the computer industry is bleeding out.
The problem though is that we’re left with a computer community of the hardcore. Not like the good ol’ days where the computer community was made up of casual tinkerers like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
And it’s only going to get worse.
Ask yourself, what happens when Apple withdraws from the computer market? Without their retail locations and UI expertise, who would use the underlying *nix base of Mac OS? If we can’t buy new Macs, what will happen to all those existing Mac users?
There’s a reason I design games as a hobby, and it’s not just my varied interests. It’s just because I cannot see any combination of events that does not lead to the utter systematic collapse of the computer industry within the next 5 to 10 years at most.