December 21, 2011

Is your Laptop Getting Obsolete?

With the advent of tablet computers, a question is raised on whether a new dawn has broken on the Internet skyline ushering the end of the laptop era. We are interested in this issue because we might have planned to replace our existing laptop and have to decide on whether to embrace the new technology or stick it out with our existing hardware.

No, I don't think tablet computers are being manufactured as a replacement for laptops. I see them as a product aimed specifically at a substantial portion of the market who are primarily involved in getting information from the Internet or engaging in socially oriented activities in the Web. They are being marketed at the higher end of the market specifically students and newly-employed youth.

The laptop share in the market would be surely affected. I think what would happen is that there will arise a substantial difference on the hardware being used to create websites and other media forms on the one hand and the hardware that would be used in the acquisition of such objects from the Internet. Essentially, what would happen is that the designers of media forms will be using laptops but will have to have access to a tablet computer if only to see how the information would appear on a tablet computer.

So would buying a tablet computer be a worthwhile plan? I believe so, yes, if you're someone who is involved in offering information or service through the Internet, then it might be a good idea to have one for testing how your design would be executed on a tablet computer.

I think there will be some adjustments on how websites are designed and how media is delivered to the intended recipients. More and more users are going to use smart phones or tablet computers to access information from the Internet. Therefore, our design for websites and other media forms should consider the substantial reduction in the screen size of these gadgets if we want our products to be optimally displayed on these small-screen devices.

There will be pressure I think to shrink the size of the information further as it would be a strain to the eyes to have to look at a small screen for a long time. Here, I would surmise that there will be a further split on the part of the Internet users between those who are only interested on the fun side of the Internet and those who are serious information seekers who in turn would stick it out with laptops as the information that they need are substantially larger and cannot be displayed fully on small-screen gadgets.

There will also be some technical challenges ahead as those gadgets and tablets are using an operating system that is different from that used in laptop computers. The main obstacle to be dealt with is how the keyboard and mouse events are to be rendered by touching the screen of the tablet computer. Then, relevant laptop applications will have to be modified to suit the requirements of the smart phone and the tablet gadget.

There will have to be some sort of standardization on how touch-screen is to be implemented among the various small-screen devices. Otherwise, there would be chaos with different manufacturers having their own versions of touch-screen technology. Apple is considered to be the leader of the pack in this area. But with the death of Steve Jobs, the visionary behind Apple, what would become of Apple's business strategy?

Google has also put its weight on the tablet computer issue when it launched Android, a free operating system for smart phones and tablet gadgets. It appears that smart phone and gadget manufacturers are gearing up for a fight to the death with Apple's iPhone and iPad. As to who will emerge as the winner, no one knows. China is becoming the battleground where Samsung and Apple are fighting it out for a bigger share of the market.

As for laptops, I don't see any major leap in hardware technology that we saw when we moved away from desktops and toward laptop computers. Tablets and gadgets would eat substantially in the market share of laptops particularly for the youth segment of the market. Serious Internet users who deal with large amounts of information for long periods of time will still be using laptop computers. Of course those on the other side who produce information products for the Internet will stick it out with laptops for its power, versatility, and reliability. For them, owning a tablet or gadget would be beneficial for testing how their information products would display on devices with small screens.

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