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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