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What Does Web-Based Computing Mean for PC Design? Is it the death of the laptop?

Posted by: Reena Jana on December 18, 2007

With all the talk about the rise of web-based computing — applications such as Google Documents, etc. — what does this mean for PC design?

Will product designers and engineers start focusing more on hand-held devices that are somewhere between mobile phones and laptops (in size and capabilities) that are already starting to hit the market?

Or will they focus mostly on the mobile phone?

Then again, with the emergence of slicker, sleeker desktops from Apple, Gateway, and Dell, is there a trend toward ever-sexier PCs that we will use in set environments to supplement the computing we do on our mobile devices, and then tap into our documents and files via the Web?

Is it the death of the laptop?

Reader Comments

Pete Mortensen

December 18, 2007 8:03 PM

I'd really be surprised if the laptop dies, if only because typing speeds for handhelds will never match those possible a full keyboard. But then, I'm a writer, so I could be wrong.

If anything, it seems like the current web app trend is heading less toward cloud computing, as people have been pushing for ever since the computer came home, and more toward redundant data computing. What's the difference? All of your files exist in at least two places. I'm not excited about Google Docs because I like to use a relatively poor web-based word processor. I value it because I can create my documents on my laptop and then access them anywhere without compromising the security of my own machine.

For the time-being, hard drive speeds are so much ahead of network drive speeds that I, at least, value tremendously having local copies of all of my data. Network-only information is somewhat disturbing. It seems less immediate and tangible, and people don't like that. After all, when the mobile phone and laptop first really got going, Chiat Day tried to take away everyone's desks because now people could work anywhere in the mobile office. But, as you might expect, people still craved permanence in their workspace, and they demanded the right to have their own cubicles, basically.

Networks offer tremendous possibilities for new ways to engage with our data. I think devices like the iPhone are amazing for web browsing, better than computers, in some ways. But for data creation, not consumption, the laptop is still the best artifact we've come up with as human beings. I don't see that going away.

Desktops, on the other hand, are living on borrowed time. With battery life headed toward 10 hours in between charges on laptops, there's less and less of a reason to devote so much space to a big clunky tower of power.

Just some random thoughts. Take them with a grain of salt.


December 20, 2007 10:53 AM

Loved reading this blog post and considering the possibilities that it implies!

I agree with Pete that the desktops will soon go the way of the dinosaurs, and am undecided about the fate of laptops. What may happen is the laptop model we have may make little or no difference in terms of capability if we switch to more web-based applications, spurring a complete "democratization" in the computing world. In a sense, they just become a commodity or accessory, allowing anyone with an internet connection to create top quality work.

Like Pete, I am also a writer and prefer the full-sized keyboard because of the work I do. Regardless of outcome, we are entering an incredibly exciting time in the world of technology as Google and others explore these opportunities!

baljinder singh

October 4, 2008 10:59 AM

Hi. I want to know about
Web- computing??? can u help me to find such meteial for a good knowledge, any book, aur link you knw pls mail me on my id

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