The coming irrelevance of the desktop

What would your epitaph of the desktop computer say?, an Irish tech news service, quotes Google's Europe chief as saying at a tech conference:


“In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs,” said John Herlihy. (Check out the full story here.)

Saying desktops will be irrelevant in just three years is a bold statement, and one that I struggle with.

Most of us use desktops at work. And we tend to have desktop computers at home that have huge hard drives and capacity for running memory-intensive software.


It's hard to imagine giving up the presence of such machines, even if we seem to be using them less and less.

In my own experience, I find that we're using our own desktop machine less at home, since my wife and I both have iPhones. We use mobile devices now to check email, check social networking sites and blogs, surf the Web, pay bills, read news and maintain our calendars.

At the moment, our desktop is basically a repository for thousands of home videos and photos and music files. Only rarely do I use it for editing photos and videos because I can do much of what I need on my iPhone, which has photo and video editing applications.

We do use it for Skype video calls, but even mobile devices seem poised to offer such capability very soon. We may even see it in the future with the iPad.

So yeah, I guess I'd have to agree with Herlihy... The traditional desktop's days are numbered. Even Apple seems to think so, since Steve Jobs declared in January (during the iPad debut) that Apple was the world's largest maker mobile devices. (Think iPhone, Touch, iPod, laptops, etc.)