Are Smartphones and Tablets Going to Replace Desktops and Laptops?

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What if there was a time machine that could take you back to the past? What if you used it to take you back a decade or so?  Imagine you end up in a coffee shop, what do you see?  You will find people busy with a book or chatting with their friends; making a presentation on their 9-pound laptop or simply sipping their hot coffee!


Cut back to present times. What do you usually see in coffee shops?  You see people glued to their smartphones or tablets; they are checking emails or reading books; some of them are tweeting about the cappuccino they are sipping or ‘checking in’ their current location with Facebook Places; other are browsing the Internet!

While they might be engaged in different activities, there is a common thread that binds all of them – most of them are using smartphones and tablets. This clearly underlines the fact that smartphone and tablet use is increasing and people prefer them over computers and laptops.

Now, you might say this is just a made up situation and things in the real world might be a little different. So, let’s take a look at certain figures that prove the same point and figures don’t lie:

  • US smartphone engagement has overtaken desktop.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop.
  • Tablet shipments will surpass both the laptop and desktop PC by 2015.
  • One half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices now account for 53% of website traffic – 17% of which comes from tablets. (Eloqua)

However, this wasn’t the case when these smartphones and tablets were first launched. They were not powerful enough to deliver a rich user experience like a laptop or a desktop. But the rapid evolution of mobile technology has ensured these wireless devices now deliver next generation functionality.

As these devices are portable and provide a highly satisfying user-experience, people are using them for various purposes like gaming, entertainment, online shopping, locating restaurants, listening to music, taking pictures, connecting with their networks on social profiles, surfing the net and a whole lot more.

Since these smart devices provide various essential features similar to any desktop or laptop, analysts believe it will only be a matter of time before desktops and laptops (meant for personal use) are made redundant.

Let’s look at a few reasons that can lead to smartphones and tablets pushing out desktops and laptops in the not too distant future:

  • Smartphone technology is advancing rapidly. Today’s smartphones are like pocket sized computers; most high end devices match computers feature for feature and also from the hardware, security, speed and privacy point of view.
  • A tablet or smartphone starts instantly, unlike desktop or laptop that will need time to boot up. Yes, even a device packed with a truckload of features will start instantly, courtesy its superfast processor.
  • Laptops heat up frequently. In some cases, even their cooling system makes a lot of noise. On the other hand, smartphones and tablets rely on passive cooling and don’t heat up frequently.
  • Portability: Smartphones and tablets provide simplified, touch based experience anywhere, be it in an office, at a sea shore or in theatre while watching a movie.
  • Smartphones and tablets provide extra features where laptops and desktops fail like camera or making phone calls.
  • Tablets are just like laptops, but more portable and many of them offer a better battery life.
  • Tablets are the preferred choice of book lovers as well. If you are a regular reader or just want to sit on the couch and read, your tablet can turn into your eBook reader.

But then there are some analysts who think differently and argue this will never happen.

So, here’s a question – what is it that a smartphone or a tablet cannot do that your laptop or desktop can? Actually barring a few things, smartphones and tablets can do just about anything that laptops and desktops can.

Can it code?

The answer is YES. It can even code.

Nokia N900 allows you to install python and code in it or even have an inbuilt terminal just like Ubuntu to code.

One area where computers or laptops are better than smartphones and tablets is typing. But that’s a limitation that can be easily overcome, thanks to technology. You can connect your Bluetooth keyboard with your Android smartphone or tablet and use it for typing. If required, you can even connect a mouse or joystick to your small electronic devices.

Numerous features like personal digital assistant, media player, digital camera, GPS navigation unit, web browsing, a fast 3G or 4G connection, 3rd party apps, mobile payments, etc. are helping smartphones increase their market share. Every day more and more people are buying a smartphone or tablet as their first computing device. In a world population of 7 billion plus and counting, more people own smartphones than toothbrushes.

Smartphone and tablet users are not only using their devices to play games or to access social networking apps, but also for M-commerce. In fact, mobile devices are the new age shopping companions for consumers. Shoppers can shop virtually from anywhere anytime of the day with a tablet in their pocket or a smartphone in their hand. This is another important reason why people are shifting from desktops and laptops to smartphones and tablets.

Mass adoption of these wireless devices by consumers has made retailers change some of their strategies to give mobile – connected customers a fantastic in store experience.

The use of these devices has made life easy for consumers. With Siri like personal assistants, all you have to do is tell your smart device to perform a particular task and it will do it. For instance, on saying: “Hey Siri, can you play some music for me?” while you are driving your car, your iPhone will start playing music for you.

There is absolutely no doubt, successive generations of smartphones and tablets will be smarter than what they are today; this will encourage people to shift from desktops and laptops to these smart pocket friendly “computers”.

End Note

Today, smartphones and tablets are becoming the center of our digital lives. As these devices keep getting better and better, desktops will become obsolete in future. While standalone laptops won’t go away anytime soon, a new computing paradigm will soon emerge in which the smartphone and tablet will take the center stage for all our computing needs and requirements.


Vishal Gaikar

Article by Vishal

Meet Vishal Gaikar, the tech wizard hailing from Pune, India, who's on a mission to decode the digital universe one blog post at a time. When he's not tinkering with gadgets or diving deep into the digital realm, you can find him concocting the perfect cup of chai or plotting his next adventure. Follow his tech escapades on Twitter and buckle up for a wild ride through the world of innovation and geekery!

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