Study Shows Computers Are Here To Stay – But Are They Really?

Tablets won’t be replacing computers any time soon.

At least according to a recent study by Robert W. Baird & Co. 83% of consumers surveyed said that they could not do without a computer for the foreseeable future. According to consumers, tablets are cool. They’re fun. They’re wildly popular. But, for the majority of users, they simply cannot replace a computer. Not in their current form, anyways.

When compared to a tablet or smartphone, what is it that makes the PC so indispensable to the vast majority of the population? It’s not a keyboard or mouse – tablets can accommodate traditional input devices such as these already. It’s not power. Well, not for most users anyways. Today’s tablets and smartphones can easily handle the average users’ needs. For those that need more, it’s only a matter of time before mobile devices catch up to traditional PCs in terms of processing power, RAM, graphics, and storage. So if it isn’t these things, what is it?

In my opinion, it comes down to the form factor and operating system. Tablets and smartphones are great on the go, but it’s hard to beat a 24” screen with a “desktop-optimized” operating system when you’re at the office or at home. If that’s the case, why can’t tablets and smartphones offer these features as well? They can.

We’ve said it before – computers as we know them are going extinct. Devices like the Motorola Atrix and the Asus Transformer already offer tools for attaining the “desktop experience” from your mobile. Soon, many more mobile devices will offer the ability to dock to the traditional monitor, keyboard, and mouse setup. Your “computer” will actually be just a shell powered by your mobile device.

So 83% of consumers are in luck – they won’t have to go without a computer in the foreseeable future. What they may not realize, however, is that their computer will, in fact, be a tablet or smartphone.

The Extinction Of Computers As We Know Them

The only constant is flux.  Nowhere is this more true in today’s world than in mobile technology.  Recently, Motorola released the Atrix 4G phone.  A unique and widely promoted feature of the Atrix is its new “docking” system. This system sows the seeds for yet another paradigm shift in the mobile world.  As if the iPad wasn’t enough.

Imagine this:

The alarm on your phone wakes you up for work.  You jump into the shower and have your phone read aloud the contents of your new email while you bask in the warm water.  You know which emails you can knock out with 140 characters or less.  Your list of 30 emails dwindles to 15 by the time you finish your commute to the office.

In the office, you dock your phone to the peripherals.  Using just one cable, perhaps utilizing Intel’s Light Peak technology, you are able to dock your phone to your office monitor, keyboard, and mouse.  All the apps you need for work are there.  Email, calendar, docs, tasks, notes, file browser, online storage, and more – readily accessible on the device you already carry with you every day.

While working on a new proposal, you get a phone call from your client.  Your screen informs you who it is, and you accept.  While on the call, you are able to refer to files relating to the client, make notes, schedule meetings, and more.  When you are finished, you disconnect, and your previous workspace is restored, exactly as it was prior to the call.

At the end of the workday, you undock your device, put it in your pocket, and go home.

You check email once more before you go to bed.  Instead of pecking at the virtual keyboard on the phone, you dock your phone to your monitor, keyboard and mouse at home.  After responding to an email or two, you undock the phone and head to bed.

You get the idea.

With this paradigm shift, the phone has replaced the laptop.  You have a palm-sized device with multiple CPUs, adequate graphics prowess, robust storage, unlimited entertainment and productivity apps, and the ability to conveniently dock to any set of peripherals, anywhere you are.

It is simply a matter of time before your “pocket computer” becomes your only computer.