Home » Digital World » Smartphones & Gadgets are Additive, Not Alternatives, to PCs

Smartphones & Gadgets are Additive, Not Alternatives, to PCs


Deloitte’s technology sector chairman “predicts a significant consumer and enterprise shift away from the desktop and laptop personal computer (PC) in favor of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and netbooks in its forecast of top trends for the technology sector in 2011.” I strongly beg to differ. Deloitte is but one of many press and analyst examples suggesting that smartphones, tablets, and netbooks are substitutions to traditional desktop and laptop PCs.

The last year has seen the market explode with a number of powerful alternatives to the traditional PC, and they are well-suited for an already mobile and always-connected U.S. population,” said Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and technology sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Driven by high demand on the consumer side and the ever-increasingly distributed workforce, the enterprise will embrace mobile computing platforms in a big way. Online privacy is no longer a major barrier to adoption as companies proactively manage security policies to ensure the corporation is safely Web-enabled around the clock regardless of location or device.”

The large and small companies I talk to have seriously embraced smartphones. RIM’s Blackberry is incumbent but looking shaky as employees bring in Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-based smartphones to work. Smartphones are old news. But I cannot name one knowledge-worker on the planet who has or would turn in a traditional PC for a smartphone. You can’t can’t survive the onslaught of emails let alone attachments with a smartphone. Read them? Maybe, but not update and reply. It’s just not productive to attempt this. A non-starter.

Netbooks were the 2009 story. Fairly inexpensive, netbooks feature a low-power and low-performance processor with a roughly ten-inch screen. The best point of netbooks, users widely report, is the thin-and-light form-factor. Women in particular sought out netbooks to avoid the weight and unfashionable bulk of a traditional laptop bag. Male road-warrior counterparts, suffering shoulder-bag-caused muscular problems, also tried out netbooks. But lackluster performance and scrunchy screens made netbooks for enterprise a fad that faded in 2010.

Meanwhile, traditional laptops — led by thin-and-light models such as Dell’s Adamo and Apple’s MacBook Air — continued to expand market share. With the latest low-voltage microprocessors such as the new Intel Sandy Bridge chips, sub-three pound laptops will be very popular. The enterprise is buying them in greatly increased quantities because they meet employee’s demands for full-function PCs that don’t weigh a proverbial ton, and can be fully secured, even when lost.

Tablets, of course, are the next great thing. I have an iPad on my living room coffee table. Great for evening multi-tasking. Great for down-time on business trips. OK for business consumption uses like e-mail, including looking at attachments. But marginal for business knowledge-worker applications, even web-based ones. And data storage and synchronization are a problem. Security is also rudimentary at best. Yes, you’ll see CEOs entering the Board Room with tablets and senators walking onto the senate floor with a tablet. But CEOs do not an enterprise make; every top executive has an administrative staff fully wired to the enterprise network with a traditional PC or laptop.

There are no Global 1000 enterprises today replacing most traditional desktop and laptop PCs with smartphones, netbooks, or tablets, to my knowledge. Perhaps Deloitte has widespread engagements headed in that direction, but I doubt it.

Smartphones, netbooks, tablets and future smart gadgets are additive, supplemental devices that make employees more productive. They are not acceptable alternatives. They do not in the foreseeable future replace the current traditional PC infrastructure. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Source: Deloitte press release

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5 thoughts on “Smartphones & Gadgets are Additive, Not Alternatives, to PCs

  1. How about tablets/smart phones/netbooks that will have a docking station with large screen and keyboard/mouse that will enable the traditional user experience?

    This is actually what happens with laptops in may corporates – the employees has docking stations for their laptops.

  2. Well said, exactly my thoughts. would say that tablets, smart-phones and net-books are not notebook/desktop substitutes for productive types of work but complementary, product resulting in increasing returns, Though for non-productive consumers (people who only browse, email or other kind of information retrieval or simple messaging they can be substitutes. It depends the type of segment in the market, though for the first type of segment (productive) is more prevalent and the second one is growing too.

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