No no no no no no no. No. No-no-no. NOOOOOO. No. That is TOTALLY misunderstanding. When the movies came, many thought they would kill off books. They didn't. Then when radio came, people thought it would kill of records. It didn't. When personal computers came, they did not kill of mainframe computers. And now that the mobile phone - in particular the smartphone - is increasingly accepted to be the newest type of computer - haha, welcome, join the club - there are those who think it will kill off the PC. It won't. There will be situations where the pocket computer/smartphone will be more convenient, and other times when the PC will be more of use. There are price factors, so more smartphones will be sold than PCs (already today more smartphones are sold than any portable PCs ie laptops, notebooks and netbooks combined).
30 Minute Tasks
So I have been using a metaphor to explain why mobile phones will not kill off PCs. I call it the 30 minute tasks / 30 second tasks metaphor. Here is how it works.
We have 30 minute tasks. These are the kind that we plan to do. So for example me now blogging for you. I planned to spend some time today doing my social networking 'duties' to my fans and followers. I spent some time on Twitter, some time on Forum Oxford, and then of course also here on the blog. I planned to do this today. When I do work in 30 minute tasks, I want to be seated, in a comfortable working situation, at a desk, with a good keyboard, a mouse, and a good large display. I do this with focus, often only one thing at a time. And we tend to 'create' in 30 minute task type of situations, with our fave tools, such as work stuff like Powerpoint, Word and Excel, or if we are seriously into our photography, we have the 'real' camera etc.
30 Second Tasks
Then we have 30 second tasks. They arrive suddenly and need our urgent attention. They may arrive while we happen to be at our PC for example via email or Skype or Twitter or Facebook, but more often they arrive when we are somewhere else, far from our PC. So they typically arrive on our phone. It may be a call, or a text message or some kind of alert or contact. With 30 second tasks, we deal with them immediately, while walking or standing, often single-handedly (which is why all addicted to SMS want single-handed operation on their phones, a lesson Blackberry has taken to heart and unfortunately many pure-touch screen phone makers have not learned yet). With 30 second tasks we more react than create, and we more consume than create. And very importantly, almost always when 30 second tasks arrive, we multitask - such as driving the car, taking a call in the car, and dealing with it while still driving. Or sending that text message while we are walking towards the train station, etc.
Now, for most of us reading this blog, we live in the Industrialized World. We have good paying white collar jobs. For people like us, we have easily within our income, the ability to own both a PC and a smartphone. Thus we have the luxury of choice. In this situation, we will tend to get optimal equipment for both 30 minute tasks and 30 second tasks. So yes, for most who currently own a PC, it will be a continuing situation.
For the Emerging World, while there will be plenty of PCs sold to that market, far more of the total population will never be able to afford a PC. Not even a 100 dollar netbook. I don't mean 'forever' but at least for the next decade. That means, that if you don't have a choice and your only digital gadget is your mobile phone - often a basic phone, may be even a second hand phone shipped to Africa from Europe or the Middle East for example; then there is no choice and you do the best you can with it - it means that many '30 minute task' type of jobs will be done with the 'wrong instrument' ie the phone.
Now, will there be exceptions? of course there will. If you really only had your laptop to do your emails, and then discovered the Blackberry, then like statistics show, many will stop carrying the laptop and only use the Blackberry. But if you do other PC work that requires the laptop, then while you may do 'more things' with your Blackberry and carry your laptop less often, you cannot abandon the PC because you need it for things that are not comfortable to do on the Blackberry. Same for iPhone, etc.
So, while I have explained that mobile is the newest mass medium - the 7th mass media in fact - and the internet on a PC is the 6th (older) mass medium, and I have searched and catalogued 'unique abilities' for mobile that you can't even do on a PC or the internet (nor any of the older 5 mass media like TV, radio and print) - I am not a 'fanatic' thinking its only mobile. No, both will co-exist. I have said that since my second book in 2002. And this 30 minute / 30 second tasks metaphor is very useful to help explain why the mobile, even the most advanced smartphones - will not kill off the PC.