This week IDC predicted that more Internet users will access the Internet through mobile devices than by the PC and by 2015.  Apple’s Lion is that company’s first steps toward integration of iOS and OS X, and Windows 8 has now been released to “unify” mobile and desktop computing.  This has lead some to speculate that the PC will be obsolete by 2015.  I’m here to say: “Not So Fast!”

First, you can do some content creation on today’s tablet devices, but their capability is still seriously limited.  For serious or high-output content creation, a PC or Mac is the only way to go.  That’s not only because of the very limited computing power of today’s tablets but also because of their limited ability to accept various forms of input devices.  Touchscreens are somewhat useful performing graphics creation, but mice and drawing tablets still have their place and often greater utility.  While touchscreens, swipes, and those other intuitive input forms have achieved wide utility in the public domain, the business domain is still adapting to their use and it will take them longer to do so than 2015.  My guess it will be more like 2020 before we see the actual convergence of today’s modern tablets and the desktop PC and perhaps as late as 2025.  I do believe it will come, but not as fast as some in the industry will predict.

Secondly, there is still an open question as to whether it is really best to merge the two mediums.  Apple’s Lion is a case in point.  While many iOS features may adapt themselves well to a desktop environment, some do not.  Launchpad is one of those.  While the Launchpad approach of filling your screens full of application icons makes a lot of sense on a tablet, it works horribly on a desktop with a large screen (say 27 inch) and a machine running tens of applications.    Using Lion’s Dock or opening the Applications Folder in one large grid makes more sense and saves time over wading through screen after screen of applications to find the one you want.  That problem could be addressed by allowing icon sizing that might allow you to collapse everything onto one screen, but what have you gained over the standard desktop way of doing things?  This is only one example of how the tablet environment does not always translate, and computer companies need to carefully examine the concepts involved when performing these types of transfers and not succumb to them simply for love of the technology.  In the end, people are looking for the easiest ways to achieve desired results.  If that is forgotten, the product will fail, no matter how “intuitive” it may first seem.

Frankly, I haven’t looked at Windows 8, and while I will look at it, I probably will not move to it. I don’t run any Windows tablets; what can it offer me?  Even as a Mac aficionado, I moved back to Snow Leopard, though some of the things that engendered the backwards move I have since learned of workarounds for.  That said, I have to ask myself: “If I have to use workarounds, why move at all?”  Until I have a compelling answer to that one, I’m going to stay where I am.  I need to be able to work and not spend any time reconfiguring machines.  After all, I own a computer to allow me to create things I otherwise could not.  If it doesn’t do that, tablet or PC or Mac, what good is it at all?