Saturday, August 20, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Yesterday, Hewlett Packard announced that it was going out of the PC business, leaving only Dell and Apple as "boxers" or desktop manufacturers. ( Source: Press Releases, See article: Barron's Analysis, )

Now, I am a big proponent of Mobile Technology, having covered Mobile Infastructure stocks from 1995 to 2001 for The Thesaurus News, an online stockpicking newsletter, and freelance writer for financial publications.  I believe the world is going mobile in a huge way.  More people access the internet with mobile phones than with computers, so don't think I am doing an about face with this piece.

But might some of these companies be rushing it a bit?  I thought of an allegory here, by John Donne, one of the metaphysical poets: 

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. 
     by John Donne


I've always fancied John Donne, as my ancestors dropped the "e" from our surname a few centuries ago.  His famous line "For Whom the Bell Tolls"  entered the lexicon when used as the title for a novel by Ernest Hemingway in 1940.   But do you know what it means?

In it's simplest context, it might be translated thus:

Don't ask me for whom the death bell is ringing, when it rings, a part of humanity has just passed away, and when one of us dies, a part of all us dies.  So don't ask me for whom it tolls, it might as well be tolling for you ( or me ). 

As we see the "dying off" of PC's, and a rush to go mobile, are we possibly all losing a valuable resource?  Is not a part of mankind dying off, and should we all be feeling the pain?  Is this rage to go mobile just promotion and hype by Madison Ave. Marketing firms to sell us another product which won't do all that we want it to do?

For someone as hooked as I am on the idea that society is changing with handheld mobile devices, there are limitations.

We probably won't see for instance:

     - The folks at Disney or Dreamworks doing the next big animated feature on a Tablet or Mobile Phone.  They will need much more powerful machines than a handheld to do their work.

    - The Comptroller of your company doing her/his payroll numbers on a Tablet while having their lunch on a park bench.

    - Even mundane tasks: A friend in Arizona said she could not set up her Google + account without a desktop, and it would have to wait till she returned from her vacation.  

    - Demographic limitations like the over 55 crowd, such a huge part of social media growth in the last 12 months, they are barely learning to master desktops, are they now expected to learn tablet technology, and should mobile devices be their only access to the Internet? 

     - A writer typing out the next great "For Whom the Bell Tolls"  on her/his Android or Android Tablet with 5 inch screen.

Are we victims of Corporate profits, slick marketing, and visionary dreamers like Steve Jobs, who predicted that we were entering a Tablet Age?  A self serving prediction indeed, considering when he made it 18 months ago, he was unveiling his latest gadget, the iPad. 

Innovation is such that a company must be constantly reinventing itself to stay ahead of the consumer and the competition.  In the case of mobility products, it takes no genius or snake oil salesman like Steve Jobs to have seen this coming.  Many of us who have followed the industry for more than a decade know that the market was held captive in the United States by the U.S. Congress.   Instead of giving away the broadband spectrum in the late 90's, some brilliant politicians decided to auction it off, which literally took years, and the U.S. is behind the EU and Japan in the arena of 3G and 4G broadband communications.  

The current rush to innovate and change the world is Johnny Come Lately to the party, as the United States was set back by legislation and infighting which could be equated to the Mobile Dark Ages.    Nobody who is touting their product can even take credit for any innovations, as they are attempting to do.  Had the U.S. gone mobile in a big way in the Mid 90's, we would probably be at 5G or 6G by now, and this entire revolution would be undertaken by an entirely different group of people. 

So remember, when the you read stories about the death of the PC,  it's probably best to smile, and take it all in stride.  We know who wants to make these predictions:  Those who'd like to sell us a Tablet.  

There is something to be said about sitting down to a full sized keyboard and tapping out an article, that I just don't get from an Android, or iPad.  
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Lon Dunn writes on Evan Carmichael as a productivity and efficiency expert. He wrote and edited The Thesaurus News from 1995 to 2001 with a specialty in Telephony Infastructure Stocks. With over 20 years following the Mobile Industry, Lon helps Companies, Professionals and Organizations develop Mobile Marketing Strategies combined with Social Media Strategies to strategically target specific markets and demographics to rapidly increase revenues. His most recent book available on Amazon is “How to Use Twitter for Local Business” with Tips and Mobile Marketing Strategies that anyone can do themselves. You can download the free “Kindle App for PC to download the book to your Desktop available on the Kindle Site:


  1. smarty britches!! LoL i like how the rest of the world worships at Steve Job's left footed socks, and stinky toes, and you call him a Snake Oil Salesman!! good stuff.... you are a realist, i'll give you that...

    now can you hook my blog up so everyone can read it on their mobile phones!!

    i tweets me lil tweets from my burrow located at @Samuel_Clemons on Twitter

  2. You know, I'm just beginning to learn how my new PC works. I'm not buying one more thing until they promise me it will be the last thing they invent. No way am I going more mobile than a laptop to type up my books, and the only thing I feel when I hear the notion that PC's are going away is a great stress that makes me want to chuck it all and pull out a pen and paper. Enough is enough. Thanks for your perspective. It will allow me to pass on the valium for now.

  3. My son has been combing the net looking for deals on an I-pad case with built-in keyboard. Obviously, keys are still king. My laptop ain't goin' no place no time soon, thank you very much.

    This ACER is less than two years old. I love it and will probably run it to the ground. My next purchase? As per a close friend's techie hubby: get as much as you can for as small a price tag as possible. Technology, originally slated to outdate itself every 18 months, is actually doing so every 15. He told me that close to two years ago. Turnover might be that much quicker now.

  4. I love technology and I think the great gift of God to man. If not for technology I would not be reading this now and would never know that you exist - It is nice that you exist.