Device overload: Can the smartphone, tablet, PC relay last?

Summary:The question today about computing devices is the same as it was yesterday: Will we ever get convergence that doesn't suck?

Everyone and their mother tells you the PC is dead. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins will tell you the tablet is dead. No one is telling you the smartphone is dead, but perhaps ever-growing screen sizes indicate it may be.

The question today about computing devices is the same as it was yesterday: Will we ever get convergence?

I don't know about you, but carrying a tablet, PC and smartphone doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Yet, I'm stuck and often tote a bit of everything around. I write too much to ditch the PC. The smartphone is a go-to device yet needs a larger screen. Tablets rotate in my life and sort of get a foothold, but not really.

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Does Heins have a point about tablets ? Perhaps. The post-PC era cheerleaders may have a point and at the very least scared a big investment firm from trying to buy Dell . The bigger question is whether we're all just a bit tapped out on computing devices. PC sales are falling. Tablet sales are rising. Netbook sales have collapsed . Smartphone sales growth will peter out once feature phones die.

A prediction: Tablets, PCs and smartphones will rotate taking share from each other over time. The end state is we'll have three types of devices before shedding one or two. Convergence will have to happen because wallets just won't be big enough to support everything. Toss in Google Glass and the computing device roster snaps.

Some would argue that convergence is already happening. Just look at the tablet/PC hybrids, supporters say. The problem so far is that these converged devices generally stink.

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The conversation about whether you really need a tablet if you have a larger sized smartphone popped up on the Enterprise Irregular mailing list. The consensus: There was no consensus.

  • For some, the smartphone was starting to put the tablet on ice. There was some confusion over the roles for tablets and smartphones. Everyone agreed laptops were for work and content creation.
  • Others wanted a converged tablet/laptop. There's a market for those converged devices should a vendor get on right.
  • Tablets could merely become dumb terminals in various application.
  • A few argued we'll always have multiple devices. Get over it.
  • There's also a theory that Google Glass will replace the smartphone.
  • Another idea was that the smartphone is toast. After all, does anyone really use their smartphone for voice anymore?

What's next? I need to collapse a few of these categories. Anyone have any bright, reliable ideas?

Topics: Bring Your Own Device, Hardware, PCs, Smartphones, Software, Tablets

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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