Analysts: Reign of the desktop draws to an end

Analysts: Reign of the desktop draws to an end

The traditional corporate PC landscape is facing a radical transformation over the next two years as consumers opt for notebooks, Tablet PCs and thin client PCs as their primary information device over desktops.

According to the latest research from the Meta Group, by 2006 only 45 per cent of corporate users will count a traditional desktop as their primary information device. Another 40 per cent will primarily use a notebook or tablet PC. The remaining 15 per cent will favour thin-client or other information appliances such as custom devices and handhelds.

“In the corporate space we’re definitely moving away from desktop,” networking product manager at HiTech Distribution, Marco D’Agostino, said.

“I think desktop is still going to have a market due to pricepoint, but if you look at what some of the notebook vendors are planning on bringing out – notebooks under $2000 with 15-inch screen, DVD burner, running Windows XP Home – why would you buy a desktop.”

According to the Meta Group, one-third of all corporate notebooks will include tablet capabilities by 2006 due to improved form factors, the reduced cost of digitisers and the increasing number of digital ink and pen-enabled applications.

The Meta Group also identified an increasing consumer trend towards the use of multiple devices other than the current combination of a PC and a personal information device (handheld or mobile phone).

"By 2007, the average user will interact regularly with at least four distinct computing devices — a personal home PC, smart digital entertainment system, corporate computer, and mobile information device," vice-president with Meta Group's Technology Research Services, Steve Kleynhans, said.

"This multiplicity of devices will force software vendors to focus on information synchronisation as well as 'thinning' or 'roaming' applications to enable users to access their information independent of the device they are using."

However D’Agostino argued that the Meta Group’s claims of an increasing consumer trend towards the use of multiple devices was at odds with the convergence trend emerging in certain technologies, such as the convergence of home entertainment systems and home PCs in the latest Media PC systems.

“When you look at Microsoft’s Smart Display technology, basically lets users use the one PC for a number of different applications,” he said.

D’Agostino said the home automation sector would explode this year: one central server would manage several IT- based products in the house.

“You’ll have a central server in the house and several Internet and wireless enabled products in the house that everyone can access," he said. "I think the whole PC market in general is going to focus on that over the next couple of years.”

Meta Group senior analyst, technology research services, Brian Prentice, said that while there might be convergence trend within the home sector, in the business sector this was not the case.

“I’m not seeing convergence when i look at mobility devices in the corporate environment,” Prentice said. “I’m seeing huge proliferations of different types of devices and different types of form factors - pen-based input, keyboard input thumb-based input or traditional SMS.

"Smart phones are proliferating in the marketplace. I certainly don’t see convergence occurring right now. I see software and hardware manufacturers are going out with a plethora of different devices and are waiting to see what the market is going to grab on to.

“I want to challenge the underlying premise that convergence is good. Users have different needs and requirements and it is different to satisfy all of these needs with a converged device.”

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