A shift to a service-centric business approach is expected to catch on in the next two years, according to study by Cahners In-Stat. The personal computer will become "a basic element that comes with the information package," the market researcher stated in its report.
The trend, in fact, has already started. Recently, start-ups such as Gobi, DirectWeb, Enchilada, and Microworkz have launched companies which relegate the PC to just a piece in the larger Internet-connection package.
Large companies started down the same road last year.
Gateway's YourWare program offered easy Internet access to consumers and quickly became a hit. The transition hasn't always been smooth, though, as Gateway learned in a legal tussle with one of its Internet service subcontractors.
Furthermore, both Compaq Computer and Dell Computer have begun to offer high-speed digital subscriber line, satellite, and cable-modem Internet connection packages, which accentuate the Internet-connection services and, in effect, push PCs to the rear.
"PC hardware will [become] appliance-like...and merely become the foundation for the bundled information services," according to the Cahners-Instat study.
Major PC makers, semiconductor firms, software companies, Internet portals, telecommunications organizations, and leading retail chains "have the resources and partnership-forming capabilities?to form strategic alliances to bring this product concept to fruition," said Dr. Martin Goslar, who directs the Internet Commerce and Computing Market services at Cahners-Instat.
A recent study by 4th Wave makes similar assertions. "The personal computer has had an impact on society and individuals like no other computing product in the evolution of computing...Yet, there are many indicators that the PC is being subjected to disruptive forces similar to those that decimated the earlier eras of computing," the report says.
"Some PC companies [are responding by becoming] more Internet-like in their business models...this is the beginning of the era of the free PC or information appliances," 4th Wave said.