IT experts have been predicting that the days of the desktop and traditional laptop computer are numbered, for at least a decade. However, industry trends are increasingly suggesting that they may finally be right. As laptop sales start to drop and desktops look set to become a niche product, the time has come to ask the question; is the future of computing genuinely mobile?
It’s undoubtedly true, that people are able to get more and more of their day to day work done on mobile devices. New tablet computers like the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface are starting to blur the boundaries between a tablet and a traditional laptop, with news sources speculating that more people are beginning to choose these devices, instead of a conventional laptop.
At the same time, major manufacturers are beginning to run their laptop and desktop manufacturing operations on a smaller scale, almost in a state of ‘managed decline’. Apple now revises its computing lines much less often than it once did, and some manufacturers such as HP, have moved into service provision, spinning off their once immensely profitable computers manufacturing arms, into an entirely separate business, leaving the remaining companies to focus on either service provision or mobile products.
For specific computer users, there will always be small factors that keep them from embracing a tablet or mobile as their first way of working. Some people, such as video editors and programmers, require the immense power that only a desktop or laptop computer can provide. Others are reliant on the ability to plug a massive range of peripherals into their computer, using technologies such as USB-C and Thunderbolt. There is no doubt that options will still be available for these users, but they may become a niche part of the market, as mainstream computer users continue their rapid march towards embracing mobile devices.
This all begs the question; how long does the laptop have left as a mainstream computing item? The good news for laptop fans is that its definitely not time to panic (yet). We are still at least five or more years away from a significant decline in the popularity of laptops and other traditional computing devices. What may change, is how often people feel obliged to take their laptop with them to get work done. It may be the case that the laptop is increasingly anchored to the desk in the office, its portability no longer a key factor.