Will Mobile PDAs & Phones Replace Laptops ? And if they do ….

I would love to be able to ditch my laptop and desktop and only have a single, pocket sized device.  If I could carry my Sidekick or ITouch with me and when I set it on my desk, or even walk into a hotel room, it immediately makes a connection with my monitor or HDTV , my full size keyboard and either with a usb cable or wirelessly, lets me connect to a thumbdrive or some external hard drive.  If by carrying this little device, a full computing environment could be recreated and I didnt feel like I was giving up something dumping my laptop and desktop, I would be its 1st lifetime customer.   My digital and computing world would immediately be revolutionized.

With a 3G or 4G connection, I could dump my home internet connection. There would be no good reason to pay for wired broadband when wireless is doing the trick.  No more desktop or laptop other than maybe to act as a fallback or backup to my mobile device.  90 pct of my applications are now web based and/or available to run on my Sidekick or ITouch already, so applications wouldn’t be an issue to me.  My digital life would travel with me in my pocket wherever I went, which would be amazing.

Personally, I think this has a very good chance of becoming reality.  The question is when.

If this does happen, then it would also raise the interesting question of how our mobile computing environment would change our InHome  computing environment. Would people give up their wired broadband connectivity because it was a duplication ? Laptops are already pre empting desktop sales for home use. Would these mobile devices kill the sales of laptops ?  What about desktop application software, would it go away other than for vertical or business apps ? Would this pressure the move of applications from desktop to the cloud ?

Will mobile replace laptops in our lives and what changes as a result ?

100 thoughts on “Will Mobile PDAs & Phones Replace Laptops ? And if they do ….

  1. Pingback: Tired of the mouse « Francesco’s Weblog

  2. No single device is perfect for everyone. Both PDAs and smartphones have strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what each has to offer will help you determine which device is better for your needs.

    Please also read on related topic at:


    Rakeysh Kumar

    Comment by Rakesh Kumar -

  3. Pingback: Will Mobile PDAs & Phones Replace Laptops ? And if they do … | InfiniteMobiles.Com

  4. I am certain that mobile devices will replace lap tops. The devices will be many thousands of times faster. They will be thought activated requiring no physical movement. With nanotechnology people and their devices will become one as the nanomachines will be smaller than human cells and can be added to the human body. Lifespans will be increasing substantially. Human bodies will live for hundreds perhaps thousands of years. As technology improves people will begin to see what they a really made of.

    Comment by Kevin -

  5. With the increasing power of micro CPU’s such as Intel’s new atom processor, we will see a lot more miniature computing devices. I feel that the recent netbook craze will also promote even more companies to dive into the already fast growing mini computer market. However, at what point are we sacrificing usability for vanity and novelty?

    Comment by Landon -

  6. I don’t think that they will repalce it.

    for me a laptop is computer but A PDA is just an advanced kind of mobile phone.

    Comment by hamza -

  7. Maybe this paradigm will replace some, even most laptop functions, but I dont see how it could replace them all. Viewing and editing things on mobile devices is fine but creation of content is still miserable.


    1) Term papers – typing 50 pages on an iphone – the horror!
    2) Video Editing – probably going to stay on big desktops
    3) Research – imagine readying 100 pdfs on a 4″ screen
    4) Spreadsheets – hard to

    I see the SAAS as having many outlets – some mobile, some PC, some TV – but more interoperability between devices. Time will tell

    Comment by staypuftman -

  8. Mark,

    With regard to your “computer free” concept. There is an on-point book out called “The Big Switch” by Nicholas Carr that analogizes computing with utilities and their development that may be worth a read.

    Shawn Barker

    Comment by Shawn Barker -

  9. Now if somebody can design peripheral keyboards and flat panels screens and some software to allow multitasking to take place on these devices, I can see your vision becoming a reality. Connectivity speeds will also have to improve a bit for the wireless hand helds.

    Comment by Live Msn -

  10. Hello Mark,

    I just read you offer billion dollar ideas..because you have so many and you don’t want them going to waste.

    I am building SMS platforms to test such ideas but i do not know how to contact you to ask your permission to use them and where are they ?

    Thank you ian amor. ceo

    Comment by ian -

  11. Just get the smallest, lightest laptop and be happy with that. Soon we will try to shrink a computer to fit on a business card because it’s convenient. Oops, IBM did this seven years ago and still no working model.


    Comment by econ365 -

  12. It will happen. It’s not a matter of “if” as much as it is a matter of “when”.

    Comment by Chris Monty -

  13. Wow, I hope it doesn’t happen any time soon. I can’t type nearly as fast on my PDA as I can on my laptop.

    Comment by Blippitt -

  14. maybe on 3 o 5 years, not today.

    Comment by PokerGamesToDownload -

  15. Mark, we have a customer that has replaced laptops for mobile health care workers and is using our product on Blackberrys. They went this way for reasons of cost, ease of use, and combining phone with computing capabilities.

    Our solution replaced their paperforms with a method for capturing confidential patient data easily on a Blackberry. But, as you state, the move to the handheld was much more, as it provided them with email, web and a platform for further application expansion.

    Comment by lketchersid -

  16. I would also be a customer. I have not used the desktop in over a year. I use my laptop for everything. Dell has a small laptop with Windows, whereas some of the other mini laptops do not have Windows installed. But I don’t care for the small screen. A mobile device that can be hooked up to a monitor or HDTV is a very good idea.

    Comment by Jean -

  17. I Love all these mobile devices… but feel they need to harnness the cababilities of the home desktop. I am to old fashioned, I like my desktop more than a laptop. I run my own website,so hopefully in the future… the programs will expand.
    ABout Historydocumented.com
    Our goal and purpose of this website is to ensure that history will never again be forgotten and lost for future generations. We want to take our past and pass the knowledge on to future generations.
    We feel that many veterans are forgotten, not to mention their stories. We want the world to know the hardships the United States has suffered in order to guard us from foreign evils. We simply overlook our freedom in this country, and the sacrifices so many men and women have given us.
    We often forget about Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. We even forget about the battles of North Africa in 1942.
    We want to help educate by using first hand sources, veterans themselves. In time we plan on holding a large archive devoted to first hand sources. Men and Women from every era, so that students and teachers can come to our site and feel certain that this is real documented evidence. We want to gather all the aspects of history and place the information on one easy to use site.
    We hope people come to this site and leave feeling proud to be an American. That everyday on this site is a dedication to veterans. One day a year will never be enough to thank those who served, and will never be enough to remember those who gave it all.

    Comment by Chris Wulf -

  18. Really interesting article !

    Comment by achat -

  19. I don’t trust cloud computing.

    Even the behemoth Google has had outages – twice this year already, and the last one was for an extended period. If I needed access to that information for my business I would have been S.O.L. and if not for business, how much value does word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and databases have for just personal use?

    Comment by Jillian Sands -

  20. This is interesting. If moblie devices can get to a point where they are powerful enough to run the same applications that run on PCs and laptops, then I am all for it. Right now my desktop PC is not used as much as I use my laptop, and with us as people being more mobile by the day, it is about time that mobile devices become more than just cellphones, and we are getting there with the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android devices. I think the future is bright.

    Comment by Sola.G -

  21. The day is almost at hand for a portable, handheld with Bluetooth technology that will allow you to enter an area with a stationary touch screen alone and you can instantly connect to it. I see the day soon when the keyboard will be obsolete.

    Comment by webjock1 -

  22. It could happen but not for some time. My guess – 8 to 10 Years

    Comment by jim -

  23. I think its possible but my only issue would be the screen. I can’t stand reading stuff on an iphone. I like the bigger screens of laptops.

    And computers would still probably be necessary for gaming and things.

    Comment by Jared O'Toole -

  24. Jeff Bezos was on PBS two evenings ago discussing this exact subject. He and the host, Charlie Rose, both said it wont happen. The form factor of a laptop and what that allows will not be eclipsed by the always growing number of functions of an iPhone sized device. Fascinating interview here.


    Comment by Brandon Campbell -

  25. Great article!

    Comment by keldrin -

  26. With Linux distros small enough to run on a mini-cd/flashdrive, there’s no reason a full desktop “experience” couldn’t be run from any mobile device.

    I’m sure these guys will figure out the wireless connectivity of all the peripherals. Who wants to have to “plug in” every time you jump in and out of your car when you’re out running errands?

    Comment by Jeremy Caverly -

  27. I still have a full-tower desktop, Quad-Core Proc, screaming 5.1 speakers, a 24 inch monitor, and a hardwired ethernet connection (which can actually carry a signal through my walls). And I love it.

    And best of all, any punk who tries to steal it is gonna break their back try to do it.

    Sorry Mark, but I ain’t buying. Small is for wimps.

    Comment by revgen -

  28. Try HTC Shift it is excalty you want.

    Comment by refiloe -

  29. Mobiles will definitely take the place of laptops and personal computers because we wont have a choice. Computer chips will eventually be so small that it would be a waste to build a computer that was any bigger than a cell phone. The only reason this may not happen is if new technology or use for computers is developed that requires more computer chips to be used for a single computer.

    Comment by Paul D -

  30. Mark,

    We are smack-dab in the middle of ALL of this:
    – Software (our development – proprietary)
    – Hardware (custom design – proprietary)
    – MAJOR OEMs (partners & clients)
    – Tier 1 Carriers (partners & clients)

    Deliverables are much closer than people think.

    If you are interested, I/we would be happy to talk with you.


    Comment by NetResult -

  31. For me, the two main reasons why I would continue to use a laptop or a desktop are the keyboard and the size of the screen. I can crank out 60 or 80 words per minute on a standard keyboard because I can fit all 10 fingers on it. A larger screen allows me to multi-task more effectively, especially when researching information on detailed reports. The blackberry is fine for everything else.

    Now if somebody can design peripheral keyboards and flat panels screens and some software to allow multitasking to take place on these devices, I can see your vision becoming a reality. Connectivity speeds will also have to improve a bit for the wireless hand helds.

    As per Adam’s comments, “Technically possible right now; commercially verboten.” , in a world where illegal downloading runs rampant, anything is possible. A visionary entrepreneur will seize the opportunity to make this a reality at some point.

    Comment by Dam Anblick -

  32. Hey Mark,

    I have the same vision for holding the power of the net in my palm and being able to dock anywhere. Problem is I burn through like 5 mobile devices a year by dropping or losing them. So yes, “Would this pressure the move of applications from desktop to the cloud” seems not only likely, but critical.

    Create a cloud app that contains my entire personalized computing life, one that looks, feels, and interacts like my own desktop environment while allowing me to carry it around in my pocket on a groovy mobile device and you just scored your 2nd life time customer.

    Comment by William F. Trager, Jr. -

  33. The technology is going to become increasingly more affordable, and YES, I think that mobile devices will replace laptops. Look at what the iphone has done… now Blackberry is on board with their touch screen. Everyone has ‘facebook mobile’. We are reaching a point where we live our lives on these machines.

    Hey Mark, I need about 20 grand for a project I’m working on 🙂


    Comment by cobbconsulting -

  34. Sorry for the sloppy on-the run previous comment. A little clarification Mr. Cuban-

    It is a wafer card. Spelled correctly. Nothing new. But they are going strong on it 7/24/365. What I saw in experimentation not as an insider but just by location of working in silicon valley near Sandhill Road, the venture capital industry location that funded the big gunns of today. The Googs, Yahoo, Microsoft and Sun mong others. It’s really nothing totally groundbreaking that you have not heard about or know or surmised or witnessed yourself before probably. But in case not it will be eyewear connected to the wfer experience. Like glasses, googles, whatever they settle on or maybe even contact lenses with an implanted chip inside them.

    What does tis new development direction do. It enables you to function in the computer/wired world remote, totally seperated from your hardware or office. I know it’s a silly example, but remember the tom cruise, and steven speilberg movie, “Minority Report”? Recall the scene where cruise in virtual reality dominates a multi-plex rolloff in an virtual air computer screen. That is coming in a sense. With projectors as a previous blogger mentioned here. Not in thin air like the silly movie. But possibly with eyewear as I stated.

    A pair of computer enhanced eye glasses that will cost at the outset maybe $11,000.00 or more. Thats your mobile keyboard and monitor you asked for without lugging it around. In your eye. Think not? Read your history books.Read about Hollywood and it’s beginnings. Questioned posed- Where exactly did the motion picture industry begin? I’m not talking location right now….like New York City. where? don’t skip ahead for the answer. think it out.

    Answer: Are you ready?…….. In a wind it up, turn the handle old fashioned flip it turn it yourself screen and card projector. A person would deposit a quarter and lean into an arcade projector and turn the handle. His or hers eyes would see a moving motion picture of say Charlie Chaplan or maybe some western adventure and that was the movie.

    The point is, your eyes leaned into a virtual reality world for the first time and witnessed entertainment.
    All for a lousy quarter. And that little invention launched the enitre film industry nearly 100 years ago minus a few years. Now skip to today and 2009. How does this connect to Mr. Cuban’s proposition. Which is, if I read it correctly (Sorry, I’m a skim reader and I move too fast before I ingest all the information)will we eliminate portable laptops, cumbersome harware ( which many of you on this blog were disguntled with in the first place, includin me…..lugging a laptop around all creation, into coffee spots, airports, on trains and planes etc.

    We will purchase eyewear or glaswear, a wafer card to hook up via sattelite or remote and connect. Limited articles. In our walletor purse for the ladies. Smaller and smaller hardware as the years of development roll by. Macintosh desktops will be like Babe Ruth trading cards 20 years from now. Very valuable historic artifacts.

    Then again, it could all be just useless junk. At least this great ‘Blog Maverick” lets the hackers (thats me…) and the computer enthusiast air their opinions and guesses and discussions. It’s fun!

    thanks M. later- patrick f. b., in California

    Comment by patrick f. b. -

  35. I now use my Itouch more than my laptop. I’m a college student and most of my everyday computer stuff is just checking email, facebook, eBay,craigslist, the weather, stocks and sport. I have apps for all those and can access them so much faster than my laptop. I’m posting this from my itouch. Only downside is typing speed.

    Comment by Travis W. -

  36. I was talking to a friend about my vision of visiting my friends and showing them some of our 4,000 DPI college photos on their hi-def projector system, with the big (100 meg each photo – scanned from my original 30 year old negatives) pics being transmitted wirelessly from my 2 TB hard drive. We could be shown in our life-sized glory!

    I can’t wait.

    Comment by Kelly -

  37. Don’t think I would ever get rid of my home broadband. Because of the family, between the Xbox, and Wii and wife and kids 3 laptops…need it…

    For myself I prefer my windows mobile device for most everything…

    Comment by Lance -

  38. Display.

    When I can put on a pair of glasses and configure my computer screen/view to my liking on these glasses with the hardware in my pocket or across the room, I’m in. Until then, I cannot deal with the limited viewing area of iPhone/PDA’s.

    Comment by Douglas -

  39. This is already possible with many Nokia and some Windows Mobile devices. Using items like the Celio Redfly along with a Windows Mobile device also merits this kind of use.

    Personally, I use my mobile as my main computer. I have a wireless keyboard and plug it into the TV when I’m home. When out and about, I use the GPS and social networking services to connect with others. And the SMS, voice, and email are always means to connect. Its possible now, just not simple.

    Of course, I am also using my mobile phone as a server which hosts my personal website. So yea, its not a matter of if, but when.

    Comment by ARJWright -

  40. The future is bright, the smaller the laptop gets, the more appealing it will become to the non desktop loving person, professionals are comprising performance for size currently.
    The issue you will get is – will the big manufactures allow this to happen? I predict no…however a joint venture and no one player try to dominate and things will progress quickly.
    The progress made with the Iphone will encourage everyone and world wide business require 24 hour communication, access to files anywhere and anyhow, so it will come.
    Whether this would replace the home network/broadband is the real question and whether non-professional will invest in new technology is difficult to predict in the recession/credit crunch noone is happy to spend big on technology.

    Comment by Danny Denhard -

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  44. Bill Gates explains precisely in his book, “The Road Ahead”, how all of our computing and communication will be ultimately downsized to powerful handheld devices. We’re practically there already.


    Comment by Tech -

  45. Absolutely Mark. I was just talking with a co-worker about this the other day. We were both discussing a future without laptops

    Comment by spinchange -

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  48. Waffer cards- trust me. I’ll bet sometime in our lifetime we’ll not only see em, we will be using them. Let me explain and don’t pounce. It is only a far out in the future ideato probable reality.

    How thin can Silicon valley make a card. Double to triple thin enough to fit inside your wallet five X’s times over. What is on the card. A protable computer, mainframe connection , satallite connection and personal iphone mechanics.

    Trust me, their working on it. Probably the Google Guys, i don’t know for sure, but I worked at Stanford University once and mooonlighted in some other companies.

    What will happen in the new waffer world? It’s just a guess but follow this. Your glass windshield of your car reflects. The waffer card you just pulled from your wallet is voice activated by
    a satallite connection just as is your current laptop today. only this card runs for say 1 hour to 3 hours maybe then expires. It receives voice commands. place the card in a reflective position on the dashboard of your car and a computer keyboard reflects on the glass. You touch any key and it responds. The screen ignites above the keyboard and bingo you are in business anwhere in the world anytime their is sunlight.

    It is all chip experimentation bouncing off energy direction. Signals. Connecions. Remotes. What ever connects an appliance. a computer. A remote computer. A laptop computer. A waffer size computer. A waffer card…………computer!

    Did yiou see the Apple ad last year. The waffer size Mac? see it coming now?

    Why would you ever need an iphone, laptop, Twitter machine (have they made a twitter machine yet? I’m not up on twittering yet. Is it hot, do you get hot chicks twittering? Well, whatever…) or any other device if all you will ever need to communicate around this planet is one bite size (punn was intended) waffer thin card that fits and works instantly from the direct removal of your simple back wallet dirty old wallet?

    _patrick f.b.

    Comment by patrick f. b. -

  49. This conversation is two years old. There are already products that do everything you are talking about. The Archos 5 runs on linux, has wifi, 3g and 4g, bluetooth, hd video out, capacitive touch screen and is priced under $500 but guess no one is buying them…

    PDA’s will never replace laptops for people who use computers for more than communication. I feel like 10 years ago we were talking about when laptops would replace desktops…

    Comment by Chris -

  50. Mark, I love the insights that you give man! I think that technology will always be changing. I think that in many cases, in the next 50 years, home computing will be carried out on a phone by hooking up our phone to our TV.

    Comment by Clint "Dawg" Johnson -

  51. Mark,

    I read on wikipedia today that in 1991 Tim Berners-Lee introduced the web browser and the world wide web. Think about how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. Your post illustrates where we’re going and how many industries (companies) had better adapt or get ready for failure.

    Comment by Steve -

  52. Technically possible right now; commercially verboten.

    IMHO: the real question is … what’s the stepping-stone that will enable this to happen?

    e.g. you cannot do it as a simple iPhone App Store app, because Apple’s APIs don’t allow for a system-level app (something that modifies the entire I/O system to use e.g. external bluetooth KB + screen).

    Who’s going to be able to make money out of the transitionary step? How?

    Which mobile handset maker will allow apps that deep an access to make something like this work, and let the free market create the apps? (probably none)

    …but then which handset maker will do it themselves (if the last 10 years are anything to go by: none).

    Comment by Adam -

  53. We cannot do everything you wrote yet but you can use MokaFive to carry your computing environment on your cell phone now. We are almost there.

    Comment by MokaFive -

  54. My opinion is that they won’t completely replace laptops until the display gets more user friendly. We are limited by technology that relies on “living” within the device. It needs to be freed, so to speak, from having to display on a screen inside the phone. Such as pop-up hologrphic display or something of that nautre.

    Comment by Josh -

  55. I would welcome this if you could get the same quality display from a built-in projector. You could access your data from an online storage site, and have no need for a hard drive. But I’m too accustomed to computer-sized keyboards to do data entry, and would find the small phone-sized keyboards cumbersome.

    Comment by Corporate Barbarian -

  56. Yes, it’s only a matter of when. You see Marvell and others tauting their plug computers? Not exactly what you are talking about, but cool nonetheless. A nice middle ground between cloud computing and the current model.


    Comment by Nathan -

  57. “Mark, you’re smart and knowledgeable about the tech world. But.. but you’re leaving one very crucial industry.. “Gaming Industry” which is a billion-dollar industry. Why?”

    Let a fellow gamer point out the truth to you: Gaming and desktops are a niche in future computing.

    Fiber and desktops will still be relevant due to more high powered needs (servers, multimedia creation [especially video and imaging], gaming, etc), but you can expect smaller devices and wireless connections to take over the computing world in the coming years. Gamers and multimedia types may pump plenty of money into the market, but go ahead and ask AMD (who owns ATI in addition to their processor business), Intel, and nVidia where their concentrations lie. You’ll find out that despite the fact that they will still produce high end, highly profitable hardware…their focus is still more on the mainstream users (who are quickly going mobile in record numbers).

    Comment by J -

  58. I’ve envisioned this very thing since the RCA 1802 cpu was announced in ’75. Having just purchased a HTC Touch Pro, I find that gives me a LOT of the functions desired, with one major exception: the power cord. I’ve got browsing, excel, word, even TV-out so I can display a powerpoint, but no battery life.

    The ratios of cpu speed to battery life to weight are preventing us from making this a reality at this time. With the HTC-TP, I get only about six hours of useful ‘wireless’ time, and then it’s back to the power cord. Turn on the bluetooth, and that drops under four hours.

    You’re going to want the device to work at close to full speed even when you’re NOT tethered to a power cord, and today, that drains the battery too quickly.

    Mark, it’s not glamorous, but I’d suggest that you invest in battery manufacturing. (grin)

    Comment by Stony -

  59. Finally coming around to my idea from our Tweet-versation. 🙂 http://bit.ly/OHy6j

    Comment by JT -

  60. As computers, phones, etc have become smaller and more portable there are some hidden costs among the myriad benefits. A desktop phone or computer isn’t easily lost or stolen but cell phones and notebooks are. As a veteran teacher I’ve seen it happen.

    Comment by deb -

  61. As someone that’s developed games for Xbox 360 (played on an HDTV), I can tell you that the display on TVs is far inferior to the display on a monitor. Maybe you could get by with this for email and some word processing, but it would never fly for serious computing until the resolution of telivisions get better.

    I suspect you probably stay at nicer hotels than I do, but I have yet to go to a hotel with an HDTV in my room… meaning I would have to do my computing on a standard def TV which would be even worse.

    A big reason for me to have a laptop is that I don’t have to be tied down… It’s not about having to be in a room out of town, it’s being able to take it out by the pool or on the couch while watching TV or to a coffee shop or being able to take it out on a whim when it is unexpectedly needed. Needing to connect to a TV kills those plays.

    Comment by Kris -

  62. I’ve already moved toward getting away from the laptop. I tried the htc fuze with the hope of staying on a windows based device but after 3 weeks I broke down switched to the IPhone. Couldn’t be happier! Been out of town twice now without the laptop (first time in over 8 years) and it was nice! It’s good to be at the airport, on the plane, in the car and not have to pull out the laptop and wait for it to boot up. I have completely redesigned the backend of our website to be mobile device friendly, everything that I need to do from an administrative level can be done easily from my Iphone. Wireless connectivity to a monitor or TV would be icing on the cake. I don’t know much about it but would it be possible to take advantage of the “digital standard” to connect to the TV. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the FM modulator that you could use to broadcast through the radio, can something like that be created for a mobile device, select an empty digital frequency(?), set it on the mobile device and have the digital receiver on the TV rescan to find the digital signal from the mobile device?

    Comment by Shawn Shepherd -

  63. This is the future and the question isn’t if, but when the mobile providers wake up and provide this product. A fair amount of my research firm’s enterprise mobility research is around the assumption that the mobile device will substantially replace the laptop for a number of computing functionalities and that companies need to be prepared for the resulting changes.

    This places additional challenges of device management, cost management, data security, increasing mergers of home and office, and a different set of enabling infrastructure techs, but it’s definitely the trend that we’re moving towards.

    Comment by Hyoun Park -

  64. As we continue to chase the “talk to a computer” reality – how about if I talk to my PDA/Device/Iphone and it talks to the rest of the worlds computers for me?

    After a while, it learns my speech patters perfectly – my accent, my phrasing. I walk up to a screen and keyboard and say “Display email” and the device knows where I am, what devices are in front of me, and makes the connection.

    I approach my garage and I say – “open door” and again, it knows what I want, and trips the garage door opener.

    Anytime I say “record and transcribe conversation” and it does, keeps perfect notes of my meetings.

    We are so close…

    Comment by Mike Nolan -

  65. >> “One thing I’d note that you’re missing is that these portable devices will never be able to replace a real desktop computer as they will never be as powerful ”

    May I humbly present you with a Nokia N95 running Windows 3.1…

    We might not yet have cellphones capable of running the latest OS’es, but we’re closer than you might think. The iPhone and iTouch both run a stripped down version of OS-X – basically the entire OS, minus drivers for things the devices can’t use. This dream of Mark’s (and mine) isn’t too far off from becoming a reality.

    As an addition, I want my device to connect to my car as well. I want to be able to clip my iDevice in where the car stereo currently resides and become the front-end for that unit. It would alredy have all of my music on it, so I wouldn’t have to have the cables, docks and set-up headaches that currently exist to use it in that environment.

    Someone out there, PLEASE make this a reality…

    Comment by Jeff Milton -

  66. Sure. As applications move more to the cloud, it frees up the processor requirements. I find I’m relying more and more on my Blackberry. I have both home and work email accounts on it, and probably use it for about 50% of mail. With Slacker streaming radio, a decent web browser in Opera Mobile, I have most of my other needs met. Give me Office Live or equal for applications and I’m ready. Forget the touch screen stuff – if my next-gen Blackberry had a dock that would support a keyboard and monitor, I could do probably 90% of my work on it.

    I’m even going to skip buying another Zune or iPod. Have 2 GB mini-SD and Slacker, so why bother?

    Comment by Dean -

  67. Pingback: Also, someone should tell mark Cuban, No … « GigaOM Internal

  68. For the full Dream to come true, today, the missing part is just a reliable and cost/effective HD WIFI Transmission from any device (smartphone/netbook/laptop) to any screen/keyboard.

    With that, we would move in/out with just a “personal device” of the size of a smartphone and we will be concected to anything & everywhere.

    So, give me that HD WIFI Transmission plug !

    Comment by JacopoGio -

  69. Its funny I would love for a complete mobile revolution. But I think if we do make everything so easy to access outside the home or even while driving its going to cause a lot of issues in society. Such as increased car accident from people doing makeup, talking on phone and some how driving a standard car.

    Comment by Position Clicks -

  70. This will definately be the way of the future, driven by higher screen resolutions primarily on Smartphones. It has become easy to view content such as Documents and Spreadsheets on these devices. We at ExSafe firmly believe that Office content should be available for viewing or modification anytime anywhere, this is one of the last pieces of the jigsaw in being able to dispense with carrying laptops to meetings, your office in your pocket



    Comment by Tony Prylowski -

  71. This is something I’ve seen as inevitable since AT&T put out a primitive version of a smart-phone in the mid-90’s (imagine an 80’s car phone with the battery/electronics lunch box replaced with a laptop).

    We’re close, very close. You can actually get a workable version of it in the Sony Vaio UX-series micro-PC’s (about the size of a thick paperback). It’s all there, the cellular network connection, the real OS, the ability to connect to normal PC peripherals via USB and (with the docking station) drive external displays.

    What’s still needed? The ability to do all that in something no bigger than a thicker iPhone, and a battery life of at least 16 hours with the display on (maybe with organic LED displays?). A wireless video connection would be nice, but not essential (which is good, because I don’t think any such thing exists right now).

    Just an ordinary smartphone changes everything, being able to use Google while I’m out an about is *huge*. My HP laptop is at the top end of the “micro-PC” range (or the bottom end of the notebook range, it gets vague) and using it with the screen reversed to make it a tablet and a 3G modem plugged in is just a completely different experience.

    Cell phones, by making it so “being unreachable” was the result of either carelessness or choice, have had social effects that are still reverberating, but the experience of having the *real* internet accessible at all times is an even bigger one.

    Smartphones take all the disruptive technologies of the IT revolution and put them in one package you can take with you anywhere. You can always get in contact with anyone you want to, by phone, SMS, email, IM, whatever, and you can find out anything you might want (whether about your surroundings or not) with ridiculous ease.

    The only problem with them is that you have a connectivity device you can take anywhere, and a computing device which you can’t (even a netbook isn’t something you grab with your keys on the way out the door). If you need to do anything more than communicate, you generally can’t. iPhone is Robot Jesus because it breaks through that wall, but Android will be even bigger. When smartphones have the ability to seamlessly drive external displays and connect to useful input devices (full sized keyboards and mice), we’re there.


    Comment by Dave Rickey -

  72. I doubt I’ll ever buy another desktop, in spite of all the grunt they now possess.I did recently buy a new laptop, but I kind of wish I’d just gone with a netbook which would have probably been adequate for my needs. I plan to do some extended travelling this year and I can’t really see me lugging my laptop around with me, whereas I could just throw a netbook in my backpack like I would large paperback book. I think in the history of computing there is no question that smaller is better, from mainframe to desktop to laptop to netbook to iPhonelike mobile device and this trend will continue. Were I buyer of tech stocks I would definitely be looking to invest in netbook manufacturers. They are the next big thing.

    Comment by 8020 Financial -

  73. M,

    Long time no talk! Last we spoke was at Blogworld in Vegas this past year. I was the young chap who was audacious enough to challenge your claim as the only HD netork. Anywho this is not meant to catch up rather dwell on the question “will this kill desktops?”

    I believe it to be altogether foolhardy to assume the demise of any technology. Typically it is simply absorbed into a better utility. Also those who espouse the “end” of either a product, tech trend, or whatever are attempting to place a definitive upon a market. Its no crystal ball.

    People also once said that new media would kill television, but in all realty it simply is another medium, as you have stated in the pat.

    The obvious consolidation of our technology both in size as well as usage couple with the mobility of our PDA’s is far too attractive a proposition to pass up. Is it far away? Two years ago lightyears, with the release of the iPhone and its market strength, as well as user adaption illustrates the public interest in very different ideas.

    Overall good questions were posed in your post.

    talk to ya soon.

    Michael Murray

    PS. Saw the Mav gets stomped the other night. Stiff uppa lip, ol’ chap!

    Comment by Michael -

  74. Yeah i agree. Whata broad vision… In the future, size doesn’t matter

    Comment by Rial -

  75. No. It is more likely that our phones will become an extension of other devices such as laptop, television, desktop etc. To Parveen’s point this implies that syncing must be stellar. With a 4G connection you can take your screen (phone) on the road and let your machine at home or at the office do all the heavy lifting. Remote processing.

    Mobile screen. Not mobile computing. Less processing at the device means smaller, lighter and more efficient processing on the page.

    Comment by Andrew -

  76. Nope, I don’t think so, not so in the near future.

    Mark, you’re smart and knowledgeable about the tech world. But.. but you’re leaving one very crucial industry.. “Gaming Industry” which is a billion-dollar industry. Why?

    Simply because small portable computers with SMALL screens wont do the trick. You need bigger screens when playing games. And small screens won’t do the trick,trust me I’ve played computer games all my life and you never like playing in a small screen. It takes away the enjoyment.

    Some things just won’t go away because it’s just so fun it does. A lighter gaming laptop, with big screen who wouldn’t love that? Heck I also love my mobile phone and PDA, but its not enough for ME, and NO!… it’s not enough for ur Hundred and MILLIONS OF GAMERS OUT THERE!

    Comment by Remo -

  77. Mark –

    I wrote about exactly this about a year ago:

    My assertion is that it is coming too. It’s really just a matter of a few things:

    * 3G getting faster and more reliable. The realities of using an iPhone are miserable from what I hear.

    * Make the transition from mobile to “docked mobile” SEAMLESS. As it, the applications you have up immediately resize themselves and alter their UIs to be useful in the new size.

    * Universal docking system, whether it be wireless, USB, or something else, it needs to work for all smartphone type devices, or most of them. Count on Apple to make this a “never happen.”


    Comment by Justin James -

  78. bandwidth is still the biggest problem. A 1024×1280 screen takes around 100MB/second bandwidth at 75 frames/second. Add in the bandwidth to move data off a hard disk / flash based disk, etc and you are really talking more like 150-200MB/second to achieve similar quality to a current desktop system.

    Unlike CPU, wireless bandwidth seems to grow far slower than Moore’s law for some reason. 802.11g is only 5.4MB/second (really more like 2 to 3MB/second actual throughput in real life use). Still a very long way to go.

    We will get to high enough network bandwidth eventually, but I’d guess it will be at least another 10 years before the cost of such a system and the power requirements are low enough that it will hit a level that companies would actually start selling any devices like you are talking about.

    Comment by shawn fox -

  79. Will mobile phones replace our in home usage of laptops? Not anytime soon.
    … replace broadband connections? Possibly, if the home’s network can be tethered to the phone’s network connection and support the bandwidth requirements.

    Will mobile phones evolve and completely replace laptops for remote usage (e.g. away from the home or office)? Yes…

    I predict mobile phones will replace laptops once the phones include Pico-Projectors embedded into the phone for projector a larger interface. While I love my iPhone and have increased productivity using some great apps, the screen is still too small for desktop type usage of applications. So either phone manufacturers make a bigger screen for mobile phones but who wants carry a netbook for a phone. Or have a phone (e.g. iPhone) project a 1024×768 desktop onto any surface and then use the phone’s interface as the input device for the projected interface.

    Here are some innovative advances with Mobile technology:

    Microsoft SideSight:

    Pico Projector + Mobile Phone:

    Combine the two or simply use the phone’s UI to control a projected desktop on the wall/table. Wow! Who needs a laptop anymore?

    Comment by Patrick -

  80. Yeah, this is gonna happen, the question is simply when. However, I think a more realistic event would be your title reversed: Will laptops replace/become mobile devices?

    The laptop will continue to evolve and eventually a cutting edge laptop will be able to do all that mobile phones do, plus their superior functionality that they already had.

    As far as people buying a home connection goes, I think there will always be a need for that… I’d rather have my sure-fire bandwidth service from my local ISP than be reliant on some coporate 5G network with millions of customers.

    It’s a matter of value, you know, like any business. If ISPs provide better value (in whatever way they innovate) then no, home connections won’t be replaced by wireless.

    BTW my ISP happens to be a WISP xD… I’ve got a 2MB/2MB wireless connect so I’ve already made the switch 😀

    Comment by James Stevens -

  81. Yes and soon, e.g. 5-7 years.


    Comment by Jim Lefevere -

  82. I honestly do not think that portable electronics will replace laptops and desktops. Simply because of the fact that many people want a static medium to use while working. I would hate to type full page e-mails, documents using my BlackBerry….my thumbs would hurt.

    Comment by Dominic Perilli -

  83. I’ve had the same thought. Been using the iPhone for over a year now and there is very little that I do with personal computing that it can’t do. Things I still have to wait on until I get home:

    * Saving pictures or other data, have to bookmark them when I’m on the road

    * Serious writing, things longer than an email or blog comment.

    * Graphics editing. Need a tablet or mouse and a large screen, and processor power too.

    I think a docking system is pretty inevitable. Other things I think will come from pocket computer / phone popularity would be data storage services, and perhaps pay by the cycle CPU work.

    Also I think that the iPhone/iTouch will kill the gameboy/PSP before the PC.

    Comment by Matt Nelsen -

  84. We’re not that far from this with the hardware and the storage. I call it the iPal and wrote up my dream specs over a decade, sending them to Apple, my preferred vendor. 🙂 I would love to not lug around my PowerBook.

    The iPod Touch is very close to being this. The next rumored upgrade is said to have four processors. We already use multiple parallel network hard drives at home (also our business and school) where we store our data, backups, etc. Having seamless integration of the devices would be great. Being able to use a full size keyboard and screen, anyone in the house, to access my data would make it that much better. I just about had that messing with the home pointers but decided it was too dangerous should a home directory vanish without proper unmounting.

    One thing that is necessary is that the device be very cheap in addition to being real world rugged. Things get lost, broken and soaked. If you’re going to be carrying it all the time this is an issue. Then there is data security.

    Comment by Walter Jeffries -

  85. Absolutely concur and, in fact, I pictured the exact same vision a couple of years ago. Like you I am still waiting. See the end of my post – http://www.micropersuasion.com/2007/08/my-25-year-love.html. And then pleaded again here – http://www.micropersuasion.com/2008/11/new-app-brings.html

    Comment by Steve Rubel -

  86. I just don’t get how you can be happy with just a tiny screen on a pda. Most websites look like crap on a pda. You feel so boxed in and any really cool websites are impossible to read or look completely as the web designer NEVER intended.

    Sorry, too restrictive and suffocating.

    Comment by Sun -

  87. The real revolution in all of this will be a new web where identity can be relatively assured. When your phone is your primary computing/communication device, you have a phone number and a wireless provider who knows who you are and may utilize that information in a myriad of ways to both serve you better and make big bucks.

    Google will no longer be the best game in town for target marketing. The wireless companies will be able to offer extreme precision as they will learn everything about their customers.

    Hopefully market competition between wireless providers will have them safeguarding user information appropriately.

    Comment by Trey Tomeny -

  88. Absolutely.

    With breakthroughs in storage ( like http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/250-DVDs-in-a-Quarter-Sized-Device—-Coming-Soon.html )and processing its only a matter of time before PDAs and other mobile devices have the processing power and storage required to be your central hub. The trend since the dawn of computing has been more power in a smaller package.

    In fact, one could make the argument that storage is the only thing you really need for this to come to fruition. If your PDA can store all your data and applications there isn’t a reason that it can’t sync up with a more powerful device to tap into more horse power for applications that you might want to run from home. Think of it more as an external hard drive that can do all your mobile tasks.

    I think as the idea of smart homes become prevalent the utility of a ubiquitous device will become undeniable. I really don’t think it will be long before we’ll all be holding devices like the one you describe.

    Comment by Brian Dennett -

  89. I already leave my MacBook Pro at home a ton and just carry my iPhone around with me.

    The three big things that need to improve are:

    1) Better syncing with the cloud. So when I make changes to a document on my iPhone, it is all sitting right there when I get back to my laptop.

    2) Bluetooth connectivity. Devices should not have to rely on wifi or the cell network to talk to other devices. Think about all the remote control Apps on the App Store.

    3) Data roaming. I get raped when I use my Canadian iPhone in the US. I got doubly raped in India.

    Comment by Parveen Kaler -

  90. I would for one love it if I could ditch my laptop. They can be cumbersome to carry around if your traveling. Something small like an iPod Touch or something is much easier to take out and have the TSA inspect. I think there is still a need for a private network like the one I have at my house, but if that then went out to a 3g or 4g then it would acceptable. If I could littler my house with small objects like that to get what I needed to get done, done…I’d be happy. Something like this would force more apps to the cloud. Could you make that a private cloud as well? so business users could share data without worrying about security? That is the biggest question for the most part. How would you then secure all of that so errant data doesn’t get lose.

    Comment by Spencer Parker -

  91. Interesting thought, and I totally sgree with you. There would be a few instances where a laptop and/or desktop would still be a necessity (gaming, application development, etc.), but overall, I think this would make a lot of “road warrior” professionals very happy.

    Comment by Matthew -

  92. Pingback: Will Mobile PDAs & Phones Replace Laptops ? And if they do … | Technology Yard

  93. One could write a simple app on an iPhone/android-class phone to make it a WDS wifi router that shares your cell internet connection to your home network. You can write this app today (simpler versions already exist, but get slapped down by carriers). And if it were available, I’d cancel my cable modem tomorrow. No hypothetical future technology is necessary.

    Media consumption might move entirely to mobiles, but even casual creation won’t leave laptops until there’s a replacement for both traditional display and keyboard technology.
    Heads-up displays and pico projectors seem inevitable and would accelerate mobile’s devouring of media consumption. For portable text-entry and pointing, a simple wireless keyboard and 3d gesture pen could work in the near term, with something like (subvocal) speech recognition coming along later. But until these technologies make a few big steps forward, laptops will persist.

    Software and data are going to the cloud either way. It’s too convenient for disaster-recovery, storage, software-distribution and device-upgrade. Fat clients are making a comeback on mobiles, but as the hardware gets faster that will wane.

    Comment by roc -

  94. Mark, I mentioned something like this when you gave a talk at Columbia a couple of years ago.

    One thing I’d note that you’re missing is that these portable devices will never be able to replace a real desktop computer as they will never be as powerful (its nice to be able to carry your complicated excel spreadsheets with you and view them, but if it always takes to long to make adjustments when you are using it as a desktop, it loses value).

    Therefore, the way I presented it, you’d need a device that is your computer, but that can also attach to a larger physical computer and use it as the computation engine.

    So yes, I do think if the “docking” stations became prevalent (i.e. imagine in your seat on an airplane, in hotels….) it would kill laptops (and at worst, you could still use a laptop as a host for the few instances where you are really going to be remote), as desktops are cheaper, less fault prone and easier to maintain.

    the technology to do that exists today (and for instance is in the process of being introduced into the Linux kernel and therefore will be widely available)

    Comment by Shaya -

  95. -I remember when the very first palm-pilot came out. not too long after There was a keyboard that folded up in 3 or 4 different folds to become the size of a cell phone, but could be be unfolded to a full keyboard (-) the 10key numberpad. When mobile companies start giving a decent iphone/blackberry/etc a wireless full keyboard… bye bye laptop.

    -With anyone being able to a afford jumbo sized LCD monitor (tv?) and a relatively cheap wireless keyboard/mouse from your local going-out-of-business circuit city.

    -just walk into your living room where your phone seamlessly & wirelessly connects to your home Monitor / keyboard.

    -Would it even be necessary at all to have a laptop or desktop, if you just had a travel keyboard for GO. and monitor/keyboard/mouse at home?

    -(as for 3g or the future network of it’s kind) my opionion is it will replace wired broadband internet residentially, no doubt.

    MC, thanks for your food for thought.

    Comment by Kris Gilman -

  96. Absolutely, Itouch or similar, projector built in, foldable wireless keyboard, 3g and Zen Apps. My mouth is watering, please happen as soon as possible!

    Comment by Steve -

  97. Yes (and no). I think there will be a tablet-type “screen” (Netbook like) that will be tethered (or wirelessly) connected to your PDA/smartphone. The phone will be your gateway and data collector and the screen will be a smart screen (touch) that you can stick in a bag/pocket/case. It will be extremely durable and resistant.

    We had a meeting last year with a guy on the board of SanDisk in Canada. He told us that they are looking to release a micro SD card that will hold 2 terabytes of data as soon as 2011. I don’t know how many full HD movies that is but with that size of storage available why would you use anything else (for you videos from Blockbuster, news reports etc.) But, who is going to want to watch Batman on a 5inx2in screen?

    Combine that with distributed software/storage available with cloud technology and who need a laptop?

    What we need is a portable viewing platform (that can project?) to tether to our phones and then our laptops will be for the cottage and the PC will only be around for your mum, when she’s over and wants to collect her email (email… what’s that?)

    JMHO – James

    Comment by James Rodmell -

  98. Very interesting topic raised! Being a VP of a company that does both web and mobile development I see OVERWHELMING demand for mobile development. We have tons of potential customers contacting us without any significant marketing. Our parent company does web and software development and I can compare the Rush. Mobile is the new wave, look at iPhone Apps – some made millions of dollars in revenue already and many are making solid income. Mobile platforms are on a huge rise and is going to compete with computers very soon. Virtually any solid web app has a iPhone version already. Blackberry just released AppStore, Nokia announced Ovi AppStore, Android will get mature sooner or later and off course Apple AppStore just rokcs. It’s only a matter of time.

    Comment by Mobile Developer -

  99. Have you tried out a Netbook yet? It’s bigger than what you envision, but smaller than a standard laptop. Some of them have cellular modems built-in. A lot of them have Bluetooth, VGA out, and USB. It’s the only kind of computers that are selling better this year than last year.

    Comment by Bruce McL -

  100. If I had only one computer instead of many, I would far less interested in websites that are applications (gmail, Google docs, etc.). One of the selling points of such SAASy things is that I can access it anywhere and don’t need client software installed. If I could walk around with full versions of Microsoft Office et al in my pocket, then one justification for browser-based software disappears IMO.

    I can’t find a link with publicly-disclosed information, but rest assured that smart people are working on the scenario you describe. I’m eager to see it happen, too.

    Comment by Ted Howard -

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