Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Evolution and Death of the Laptop

Rob Enderle writes a commentary for Technology News that takes a look at the future of the laptop and its challengers. Enderle first takes a stepback to the past and credits Apple for not only setting "a very different standard [for laptops] with regard to form factor and performance" with its Titanium line, but for also creating one of the first true mobile alternatives, the Apple Newton.

Enderle chronicles the history of mobile devices that started with the Newton, and led from Palm Pilots and Blackberries to Handsprings and Pocket PCs. He then discusses the various platforms and the current state of the burgeoning smartphone market. He states:

A lot of this should change for the better over the next few months, but handheld computers are on death watch right now and these new smartphones only showcase a potential alternative that is more phone-like. However, with smartphones, there is a rather big size and usability gap. When it comes to size, people continue to prefer small phones, which creates an upper limit that may be too low for most seriously thinking of replacing a laptop for anything more than e-mail, scheduling, and contact management.
In the end, even with all the new types of technology available (i.e. wireless, tablets, mini-displays), Enderle beleives the laptop will still remain the top mobile computing plstform for the next five years. But he rightfully concludes that "the market desperately needs to move to a more appliance-like device that is much more portable and much less power-hungry."