Computers Are Losing Relevance in Japan. What About in the US?

The answer to this question is – it depends. Since I’m a writer I struggle with this answer quite a bit as I rely on my computer quite a bit. For knowledge workers in corporate offices the “PC” is still relevant, mainly because these workers (like myself) need a full sized keyboard and monitor.
The guts behind such a device are becoming less relevant as hosted applications and managed services take the business productivity software and management tools away from the PC and into the “cloud” of the Internet. Services like, NetBooks and OfficeLive or going to blossom in the world of “cloud computing”.
For consumers, PCs to some degree are important, but the focus of TV, personal entertainment devices (ie iPods) and other gadgets are going to increase in importance with the “computer” as we know it today behind the scenes.

Hiroko Tabuchi, Associated Press Writer writes in a recent article about the decline of PC relevancy in Japan, “Consumers aren’t impressed anymore with bigger hard drives or faster processors. That’s not as exciting as a bigger TV,” Katayama said. “And in Japan, kids now grow up using mobile phones, not PCs. The future of PCs isn’t bright.”
PC makers beg to differ, and they’re aggressively marketing their products in the countries where they’re seeing the most sales growth — places where residents have never had a PC. The industry is responding in two other ways: reminding detractors that computers are still essential in linking the digital universe and releasing several laptops priced below $300 this holiday shopping season.

This is in Japan, but maybe it’s a sign of the US market as well.
I was clued to this AP story by ZD Net’s Paul Murphy.
For small businesses (who are all we really care about) especially those who are knowledge based businesses (as opposed to construction or entertainment for example), computers are still quite important.
The PC you bought 5 years ago, probably does not have the memory or hard disk space needed to run optimally due to the applications and media that you have loaded on it. Recently I freed up several gigabytes of space on my hard disk by deleting some podcasts from iTunes – for example. But still the 60GB hard disk on my Lenovo notebook is just too small for the things I’m doing now – I hope to buy a new one in a few months.
Another reason computers are still important is the environment. When you are considering the purchase of computers you have a choice to purchase computers that are quiet, conserve energy and are overall environmentally secure.
What does this mean to you?
it’s really up to you to decide what’s relevant to YOUR business. A traditional desktop or a mobile device or ultra portable computer such as from OQO