Desktops and Laptops on Life Support?

If you went to or read about the Consumer Electronics Show that happened in Vegas earlier this month, you couldn’t help but be inundated with all the talk about tablets and smartphones.  In fact, it was a tablet that won the coveted Best in Show award.  I’ve got nothing against them and in fact I’m a user myself.  The part that gets my goat is that there are a lot of “experts” greatly exaggerating the death of desktops and laptops at the hands of the smartphones and tablets.  If I was a software developer and I took all these expert opinions to heart, I just might be inclined to scrap my development efforts for desktop and laptop software.  But that would be a huge mistake.  Desktops and Laptops are not going away anytime soon.

Tablet and smartphones are platforms that are complementary to the technologies and platforms that I already use. When I go looking at tablets or smartphones, I’m not looking to replace my PC.  I’m looking for cool new technologies and form factors to complement my PC.  I’m never going to give up my home PC unless the tablets and smartphones have all the same functionality and usability as the PC.  And my guess is that it’s going to take quite a while for that to happen, if it even happens at all.  And this is just on the personal side.  From a business perspective, I’m even more pessimistic about tablets or smartphones having what I need to do my job.  As I sit here typing this blog on a laptop, I can’t imagine trying to do the same with a tablet.  Oh sure I could enlist the help of an external keyboard and monitor, but wouldn’t that defeat the portability of the tablet?  And what if I wanted to finish up my writing somewhere else?  Would I really want to lug around a monitor and keyboard?  No thanks – I’ll keep my laptop.

So what does this mean to ISVs and developers?  If you’re developing consumer apps, it’s glaringly obvious that you need to port your apps across multiple platforms.  The more platforms you can work on, the more likely your app is to be purchased. And that’s really what’s it’s all about. If I have a laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet, I'll want Angry Birds available on them all.    If you’re developing business applications, I think I wouldn’t take my focus off of the desktops and laptops.  They are still going to be your bread and butter platforms on which your applications are installed for quite some time.  Keep your eye of the other platforms and be ready to adapt, but don’t make a major directional change based on a premature obituary.

But this is just my humble opinion.  What’s yours?

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anonymous's picture

I totally agree with Jeffrey. there is something about the physical contact of the keys against your fingertips that makes me prefer laptops over tablets. I just could not why the world is totally obsessed with touchpads.

anonymous's picture

In the nearing feature, computers without a mouse and keyboard will gain more popularity than the one with mouse and keyboard.

Jeffrey Rott (Intel)'s picture

@Arti - Here's an example of my concern.

Jeffrey Rott (Intel)'s picture

@Arti - I'm sure that voice recognition will continue to improve - but I can't help but think that it's going to be simple comands for a while. I'm just waiting for the time that I can look at a word on my computer screen and say "highlight in yellow, font size 12 and underline it too" and have it do exactly that to the word that I was looking at. Then I'll be sold.

artigupta (Intel)'s picture

Hey Jeff - a couple of comments.
--to your point about a tablet not replacing your PC, that is exactly the problem I have with tablets today. The value prop for the tablet is not there till it can do what my laptop can. Once we reach there, I will be sold. I can then plug my tablet into my TV thru WiDi and I have all my computing world and awesome visuals at my fingertips.
--Voice recognition is not too far away. Intel is already working on PCs that will be in "information snacking" mode, waiting for voice commands. Even SNB has some of this built in.

Jeffrey Rott (Intel)'s picture

@Senthilkumar -Thanks for chiming in. I I happen to agree with you that new interfaces are going to eventually play a role in all of this. They may be ready for primetime in the next decade - but I wonder how long it will take for adoption. I can think of many technologies that were really exciting that never got adopted. I've tried many speech to text utilities, but I have found that trying to adopt them into the way I like to work hasn't been very successful. When we get to the point that I can easilty and quietly talk to my tablet/PC/smartphone and have it do exactly what I need -without the need for external input devides - I'll be sold.

anonymous's picture

In my opinion aged keyboard and mouse based interface is going to be replaced by Touch, Voice and motion based one (What your partner MS calls NUI -- natural interface). But it is just taking shape. It will take few years or decade but eventually to blog or type I just talk to voice aware editor that is natural evaluation and I think you would accept that. We are not sitting on pentium era, we are on fusion era where CPU + GPU in single package. Most people would have booed but eventually it happen. I understand Intel is not in that race but I hope they catch up soon. But Moor's law is playing in the interface evaluation also. I really mean it and we will see it within 10 years.
--- Senthilkumar Peelikkampatti

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