The desktop isn't quite dead yet, but it seems to be evolving into a rather different beast. Meanwhile, portable computing may not be all it is cracked up to be. Katharine Miller elaborates.
Portability. Mobility. Wireless.
These buzzwords are popping up all over the place with the emergence of handheld and portable computers. From the number of reviews and articles cropping up about mobile devices, one wonders if the desktop is just being left to gather dust.
In mid-January 2004, Meta Group released a study about the decline of desktop usage. Meta expects the popularity of desktops to plummet as new technologies are adopted. Meta also estimates that by 2006, only 45 percent of corporate users will be primarily dependent on a desktop machine, but 40 percent will rely on notebooks or tablet PCs.
The report is not the first speculation that the end of the desktop era is near, and it won’t likely be the last. However, the key word to note in this report is “corporate.” More corporations are beginning to investigate the benefits and costs of handheld devices, tablets, blades, and smart displays. Their employees may not need all of what today’s desktop has to offer. Or perhaps a more truthful observation, delivered in a kind manner, would be that their employees don’t need all of the distractions offered by today’s desktop.
Over the past few years, every new device has threatened to knock the desktop out of its dominant computing position. In late 2000, PDAs were believed to be the new desktop replacement of the future. As early as 2001, reports sprung up of notebooks sales surging as desktop sales were starting to plunge. And now the tablet PC looms in the foreground with hopes of taking over the top computer spot. But still the desktop hangs on like an employee serving out his two-week’s notice.
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