Will our smartphones replace our desktop computers?

Planit Agency
March 5, 2010

Mashable reports on the comment made by John Herlihy (European Director of Google’s online sales) that our desktop computers may become irrelevant within the next few years. What is this idea based on?

Japan's Stats

First, he says that statistics in Japan show that most research done in that country is performed on smartphones instead of desktops. Whether or not that is also a spiking trend in the states, I cannot say. I'd imagine that at the rate at which smartphones are becoming ubiquitous among people of all ages, I'd assume that we're close on Japan's tail.

Storage in the Cloud

Second, information stored in the cloud could potentially replace the need for massive hard drives. This of course, as Mashable suggests, is Google's domain. With a growing number of services that allow users to store and access their documents and media from the web (instead of their computers), this point can't be ignored.

The question, though, is will we be ready to eliminate our need for a workstation? Maybe? Sorta. I believe there will come a time when we'll be able to come into work, plug a hand-held device into a monitor, and use this device as our operating system. As these devices continue to sync our accounts, media, and contacts together, it only makes sense that they will sync to our files in the cloud, too.

Some of the major problems with this theory include native applications and large files that require powerful processors. Can a smartphone's tiny processor ever be as fast as a desktop? Will Adobe make a suite of fully functioning applications in the cloud? Or will they continue to make lightweight versions native to the hand-held device itself? We've seen the limitations of Android's and iPhone's Photoshop app, so will Adobe improve upon this? Will Internet speeds increase to levels that make storing large files online a problem of the past? Truthfully, I'm not sure.

Tell me your thoughts:

Do you think John Herlihy is right? Will smartphones make desktops irrelevant?

What are some other limitations of my plug-and-play device-to-monitor scenario?