ImageThere is a lot of nonsensical talk about being in the post PC era.  “The PC is dead.”  “Desktops are dinosaurs.”  “Laptops are so yesterday.”  Categorize these statements along with those regarding the end of the world and the Mayan calendar nonsense.  Here are the facts.

1- PC shipments are down because the market for them has reached super-saturation.  In short, everyone has one and the poor state of the economy is keeping many from dropping cash on new ones.

2- Smart phones and tabs are grabbing some dollars from the PC market (laptops and desktops).

3- What kind of computer you use is HIGHLY situational.  Graphics designers and architects are not using tabs or smart phones to do their daily work.  Most are on powerful laptops or desktops.

4- There is a place for all of them, which will create a highly fragmented market.  The surviving manufacturers will have to gain a foothold in the predominant market or cover many bases well.

I believe the real question is what will become the predominant computing device and what will that form factor ( a techie term for what a computer looks like in terms of size and shape) look like?  My original thought was a dockable smartphone into a lapdock that resembled a laptop with full screen and keyboard.  Next to the Motorola Atrix there has been little move in that direction.  So for now, let’s say my prognostication was wrong.

I think what people are looking for is an all-purpose device; something that combines the best of everything.  I am a full-blown techie and still do not own a tab.  Why?  Because personally I find them useless.  I use my high-end smartphone phone for mobile computing.  I do not want to invest in a desktop for work, laptop for home and travel, a smartphone and a tab.  That to me is insane unless you have more money than brains.

Microsoft Surface may be on the right track.  It is a tab, with laptop-like keyboard, hybrid.  The Lenovo Yoga takes it a step further and combines an ultra-book/tab.  The market may very well land in one of these two form factor camps.  But, there is another choice that many industry insiders are predicting will become the predominant form factor.  Drum roll please.  The “phablet” may just be the device that becomes the heavy weight.  What is a “phablet?”  It is an oversized smart phone, i.e., the Galaxy Note.  Typically it will have a 5+” screen and beefy processor.  It combines the best of the phone and tablet.  Apple already has jumped (although after the Galaxy Note) into the market with the iPad Mini, but with no phone feature.  Of course that is planed and the next iteration will empty the pockets of all the fan boys getting the latest and greatest iPad Mini 2 with a phone feature.

The only issue on the table is portability.  Women can throw them in their purses, but men cannot stuff them into their pockets.  I would envision some type of hip cool holster that straps onto a belt, around your thigh or a shoulder holster type deal that holds the phablet and that would become the norm, kind of like the ubiquitous back pack on high school and college campuses.  I know that is a stretch, but somehow the market must develop a device that crosses form factor barriers and is portable.  I still like the dockable smart phone concept.  Time will tell.

In the meantime, give me my giant comfortable desktop work station will full sized keyboard and 24″ monitor that I can upgrade at anytime utilizing numerous expansion ports.  The same computer that does not cause massive eye strain to watch a movie and one that gives me a full-blown gaming experience.  My laptop collects a little dust, but is great for mobile power uses.  My smart phone is my third arm.  The big question for me, and millions of others, moving forward is what is the most economical device that gives me the most useful functionality.  Phablet anyone?  Phablet with a Surface-like keyboard?  This is going to be fun.  Need to buy a new computer or tab?  We can help.