It seems like every few years someone has to come along and say that the desktop computer is about to die.  What it will be replaced by is usually the newest/greatest thing on the market, but, guess what, it’s still here, and probably will be for years.

Google vice-president of Global Ad Operations John Herlihy was speaking at a conference in Dublin, Ireland recently according to, where he made a rather dire prediction about the future of conventional desktops and laptops.  “In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant. In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs,” said Mr. Herlihy.

desktop towerThis wasn’t the first comments such as this made by a Google employee as of late.  Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, at the Mobile World Congress in Feb., and it appears they actually believe it.

There is no doubt that the world is indeed going more mobile, and that desktops will reduce somewhat in importance, but irrelevant?  Hardly.

While it is true that laptops have been taking over in the home market for some time now, innovation still ends up in desktops first because there is more physical room and power to play with.  Before a technology can be shrunk down to a size that fits in a laptop, first it has to go through its first versions in a desktop-sized environment.  This also are the first steps to a reduction in pricing for that technology to fit in a mobile device.

Gaming rigs.  Need I really say more about this?  Yes, there are gaming laptops, but the number of serious gaming desktops VS. gaming laptops?  The answer gets pretty obvious at that point.

Now, leaping over to the business side of things, are you going to try to switch over someone who works in data entry to a mobile device?

Are you going to tell someone who is in video editing/production that they will work from a mobile device?

dealingroomWe’ve all seen video of those stock traders sitting in front of multiple computer screens, do you really think you’re going to convince them to go down to a mobile device?

Yes, these are technically niche areas of computing, and while the mass market will will probably continue to go mobile, it is disingenuous at best to call the desktop “irrelevant.”  Even in the mass market, unless there is a significant shift in pricing in the near future, desktops have gotten down to laughably low prices compared to desktops.  Quite often I get sale notices from Dell in my e-mail where a desktop with a better processors, bigger hard drive, more RAM and a much larger screen clocks in at a $100 less than a laptop.  As I use both form factors in my life, it is not unusual for me to still buy a desktop.

There have been people crying “wolf” over the death of the desktop for years now, and oddly, the devices are still with us.  I am fairly certain this time will be no different.  The market for them may shrink some more, but “irrelevant?”  Hardly.

What say you?  Do you feel the desktop will disappear within the next three years?