There is a great deal of speculation in our ongoing technological evolution and what that means. There is rampant armchair pontificating that the tablet will decimate the laptop market if it came to a direct tablet versus laptop battle. On the surface this makes sense. Let us take a deeper look to see if this theory holds water.
For those who do not want to do a deep analysis, the answer is a very watered down, yes. There will not in fact be total annihilation of the laptop market in the foreseeable future. To a larger degree it is the desktop market that is poised to go the way of the dodo bird.
Certainly the laptop market is going to lose market share. This is due to the simple fact that in the past you had a binary option while mobile. Use a laptop or a pencil and paper.
However the laptop for a number of years still has advantages over a tablet. The number one upside is a real keyboard. It is this solo fact that will keep the laptop from extinction in the near future. And in fact this is the same reason the laptop actually threatens of the desktop market.
The battle includes desktops too
The desktop market is in trouble for its lack of mobility. Until now local processing power and storage were the pillars of satisfying the users needs to get something done.
For the majority of knowledge workers the keyboard and processing power were the dominant factors. Today the modern central processing unit has reached the point where internally, the separation between a conductor and the insulator is now measured in atoms. Intel solved the problem by going vertical, so it may continue to add processing power.
Making the processing power this small has greatly reduced power requirements. This is why we have so much processing power in tablets and our smartphones. There is still one area which we are poised to break through and is still not in the mainstream. Input.
Hardware and power versus mobility and ease of use
We still need the keyboard. Unbeknownst to the average knowledge worker, voice recognition can largely replace the keyboard. Voice recognition requires considerable processing power. We have that now. Even if you don’t want to carry it locally, Apple and Google are doing a good job supporting speech recognition in the cloud. And it is only getting better.
This will help both the tablet and the larger screened smart phone to supplant the laptop. However the mobility of the laptop combined with the ever increasing internal capabilities is much more of a threat to the desktop. Again it is the fact we can use our fingers to quickly and silently enter and manipulate data that become the motivators.
As good as speech recognition becomes in the future, there will be times when you still need to communicate silently.
It becomes a matter of a natural migration rather than a revolution. In fact do not be surprised to see a resurgence of the laptop in a modified form. We already see laptops where the screen flips around to become a tablet. With a little extra weight the user gets the best of both worlds, a touchscreen-based tablet and a real keyboard.
More innovative features on laptops still to come
Most people do not realize that Hewlett-Packard and other laptop manufacturers have purchased in quantity a small camera-based device in which in effect all 10 of the digits attached to your wrist become three-dimensional input devices, waiting around in the air. The technology is speedy and has millimeter accuracy.
Worry not about the future of the laptop market. Because of the shrinking size and power requirements of electronics, coupled with cloud technology, it is the desktop as we know it that is headed to the history museum.