quoted in the Silicon Republic predicting the demise of the desktop computer.This morning, everyone is looking agog at the words of Google Europe boss John Herlihy, who's
"In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs," Herlihy said. Is this proclamation taking it one step too far or will we be keyboard-less and fancy free by the time 2013 rolls around?
The Silicon Republic writes that Herlihy's comments echoed "comments by Google CEO Eric Schmidt at the recent GSM Association Mobile World Congress 2010 that everything the company will do going forward will be via a mobile lens, centering on the cloud, computing and connectivity."
If, in fact, Herlihy is predicting the dominance of smartphones, and not just mobile technology, we have a few numbers for you.
According to an October 2009 Forrester report on technology adoption in the U.S. information workforce, only 11% use smartphones, while 76% use desktops and 35% use laptops. And these numbers are looking at workers in the information industry, a sector we would expect to be on the razor's edge of mobile technology adoption. A January report on the mobile workforce indicates that just over 30% of companies report that at least one quarter of their employees work in the field for more than half of their time. According to the article in Enterprise Mobile Today reviewing this report, "in the next three years, more than half of employees will be using smartphones in the enterprise".
At a recent event with our technologically savvy peers, we took an informal poll of everyone's work stations. Only one out of nearly 10 of us said we used a desktop computer. But are we working from our smartphones? No. Laptops and netbooks rule.
We're thinking that if Google is predicting desktops to be irrelevant and including laptops and netbooks in this category, they might be undervaluing our keyboard addiction. When we look at the iPad, do we really see something we'll use to manage databases, code, write or otherwise really create information?
Smartphones are obviously gaining speed with every day but they are far too limited to completely replace their keyboarded friends in three years time. But, if included in this definition of "mobile" are the ever-shrinking laptops, netbooks and tablets (with their accompanying keyboard docks) then we'd have to say we're nearing this future daily. Look around your local college campus and you'll see the next generation of computer users, each with a smartphone in their pocket and a laptop or netbook in their backpack. Look in some of the younger offices and you won't even see a desktop anymore, but instead desks with laptop docking stations.
When we take into consideration, however, developing and third-world nations, where the only web is mobile web, the situation may be completely different. We think that we can be sure of one thing though - outside of very specific uses, the age of the 30-pound clunker humming away beneath your desk is indeed coming to an end.