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Industry torn as computing shifts towards mobility

updated 07:30 pm EDT, Wed March 26, 2008

Industry torn on mobility

The iPhone is among the most widely accepted portable internet devices, and some in the industry are torn on whether this is a sign of the prophesized death of desktops. PC Magazine writer Lance Ulanoff argues that the iPhone, coupled with the long-awaited SDK, is creating a brand new era of computing standards that will some day kill the desktop, and possibly the laptop. Ulanoff argues that the iPhone has found a market with many different groups.

Ulanoff also points the the iPhone's multitouch screen and built-in accelerometer, saying that these elements provide a significantly more interactive computing experience than typical computing platforms.

"How about a notepad app that stores notes with a shake or acts like an Etch A Sketch and erases scribbles with a jiggle of the phone?" writes Ulanoff. "What if you could pass notes between iPhones by shaking them in the direction of a recipient, or play "catch" by gently tossing a virtual ball from one iPhone screen to another? Or, imagine adding effects to video simply by making the same motion you want the moving image to make."

"Instant messaging will take on a whole new flavor as you tickle the screen to create a smile on the other end of the conversation or give the phone a hard shake to send an angry face to your chatting companion. You'll push slides in presentations by shaking the phone left or right, play Concentration by rocking the phone back and forth, and store ten on-screen files in one folder by tilting the phone and "pouring" them all in."

PC Magazine writer John C. Dvorak takes a much different view of the matter, saying that the change is not a welcome one. Dvorak cites the need for desktop machines in several professional instances, and notes the various benefits of owning a desktop. Desktops are less expensive, easier to fix, easier to type on, with greater component and storage versatility, whereas laptops and smaller only seem to benefit from portability.

"Some even hope that it will replace the laptop as the primary PC platform," writes Dvorak. "And what if it does? What are folks going to do when they spill coffee on their iPhones? They've already done a lot worse--they drop them into toilets over and over. PodShow's Adam Curry lamented having this happen to him, as did Leo Laporte on a TWiT podcast."

by MacNN Staff



  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the desktop system

    isn't going to die completely anytime soon_

    Unless the iPhone can handle Adobe's DTP Suite of Apps or Apple Video Editing solutions or AutoDesks 3D Rendering Solutions_

    Try running 3D StudioMax on an iPhone - yeah right!

    I can see ILM or Pixar rendering out #d and video footage on an iPhone - Not!

    I can see Major Publication Houses doing 200+ Page Layouts on an iPhone - No way!

    Maybe for those folks that only ever use their 'puter for surfing the web or reading eMail - ever Yes - I can see these folks never messing with another desktop for the rest of eternity_

    For those folks that are stuck in Word and Excel type Apps all day long I can see this happening to some extent_

    The Desktop is not going away any time soon_ However - it may very well be practical in a completely different form-factor a few years down the road - with the advent of Multi-Touch touch screen capabilities ala [Minority Report] style - but that's it_

    There is a need for mobile computing and a need for static desktop usage and there is isn't any reason why there can not be a healthy balance of the 2_

  1. eldarkus

    Joined: Dec 1969



    in the article, he specifically states that "These niches (what you said) will always exist, but the vast majority of consumers and businesspeople simply need their PCs to handle e-mails, Web browsing, instant messaging, phone calls, word processing, videos, and photos"

    So yes, there will always be a need for desktops. But for the majority, they may become of little use in the future.

  1. JohnnyFive

    Joined: Dec 1969


    paperless office anyone?

    the computer was supposed to eliminate or at least minimize paper use and yet, studies show the opposite. mobile computing will definitely have a place in the future, perhaps a big chunk of it. but as for the desktop being replaced or supplanted by it? it's premature to predict anything at this point.

  1. eddd

    Joined: Dec 1969



    these guys get paid for this? I do worry about what has become of the media in modern culture.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Laptops above 50%


    Laptops can certainly take the place of the majority of desktops TODAY.

    How many people actually use the full power and capabilities of their computers, when email, web surfing and basic office type apps are what the majority use?

    Desktop workstation grade machines will be around for quite some time for media production and scientific use.

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I do

    My desktop Mac is maxed out for hours, sometimes days at a time. I wouldn't be happy if desktops were relegated to niche status and lose their economies of scale, become that much more expensive.

  1. MacnnChester

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Take a chill pill and let the consumer decide! Cripes. You'd think the future of computing rested upon what these guys say. If that were so Giuliani and Clinton would be nominated by now.

    Desktops and laptops will always have a place in the market. No genius needed for that assessment. The question is where do the advertising dollars go? To large format screens or mobile one? I think in 5 years there will be as many ads on handheld browsers as there is on desktop browsers now.

  1. ViktorCode

    Joined: Dec 1969


    dvorak's right

    There always be a desktop. Even if it offers no required functionality over a laptop, it is cheaper still. Laptops have only one bonus above them - mobility. It doesn't come out of nowhere, user pays a steep premium for it. Yes, many people would prefer to own a laptop as the only PC, however if they can afford it they will buy a desktop too. More powerful, more convenient to use, more flexible and feature-rich. People need them not just for professional needs, but out of convenience.

    As for iPhone and other ultra-portables I just can't imagine someone not buying PC because of this toy in the pocket. iPhone is a great device for browsing, emailing... until you get to your PC, when iPhone becomes just a phone.

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Do we live in such a pathetic world that "computing" is now defined as email and surfing the web? The greatest creative machine in the history of mankind sits on our desks -- but all anyone can focus on is that they can read facebook while they walk through the mall.


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