KARACHI: For all those wondering about what would replace the laptop, we have the answer and, surprise surprise, it’s neither netbooks nor tablets. The new mobile computing medium is the smartphone; it came and saw and it conquered the computer. Talk about David and Goliath.
These little bundles of joy are now almost as powerful as our netbooks and have the exact same hardware as our tablets; albeit with smaller screens. You could do almost anything that you could ever want to do on a normal computer.
This year, for the first time ever, smartphone sales overtook sales of computers. And we are not talking about just laptops. The sales of smartphones were more than the collective sales of desktop computers, laptops and netbooks put together. That is a ridiculous number of smartphones sold.
And this, in no way means that PC sales were declining because on the contrary, PC sales have been increasing steadily. Desktop sales have more or less remained stable since 2005 but laptop sales have been growing steadily. However, the growth of smartphone sales was such that that the PC was overtaken, for the first time.
It was probably inevitable, smartphone sales overtook PC ones, shipping 100.9 million units to stores worldwide in the final quarter of 2010, compared with only 92.1 million units in the same time frame. At least that’s what the study released by International Data Corporation (IDC) last week states.
Recently, at the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow, CES 2011, Motorola took smartphones to their logical conclusion. Their new phone, the Atrix 4g is the heart and brain of a laptop now in a sense. It slots into a laptop shaped husk, with only a screen, keyboard and a small extra battery. And it turns it into a powerful laptop that can go toe to toe with the netbooks of today and possibly even beat them.
Soon, your smartphone will be your laptop. It will just need to be plugged into a screen and a keyboard so that you can have all of your smartphones data and applications in full desktop mode, with a larger screen and a proper keyboard. The processing power and internet connectivity will be provided by the phone and the only things the dock will provide are the keyboard and the monitor.
However, one has to consider that smartphones are sold at incredibly subsidised packages by the telecom industry. They only make you pay a fraction of the phone’s real price up front and make you pay the rest of it in small affordable monthly installments along with the data plan, at least internationally. This makes smartphones much cheaper for computing purposes, and that could be one of the reasons for their proliferation.
“IDC expects vendors to provide more mid-range and low-end smartphones at lower prices to reach the mass market. In the same manner, even high-end devices will become available at lower prices. This will result in greater competition and more choice for users,” said an IDC release.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2011.