Everyday 1 million mobile touch devices are put into consumers hands. Mobile growth has been a force that has overtaken desktop computers. Does this mean mobile will gobble up every laptop and that desktop computers are going away? Answering this has huge implications for design and business in the near future.
Jakob Nielsen recently wrote an interesting article in which he stated he disagrees with the fact that mobile devices will be the only important user interface platform.
Some even recommend designing websites for mobile first, and then modifying the design for the desktop PC as an afterthought. I disagree.
PCs Will Stay Valuable Despite Mobile Growth
There are 2 main advantages Desktop PCs have over mobile Nielsen says:
1. Much larger screens letting users see more information at a glance. This enhances content comprehension, facilitates navigation and interleaved browsing, and supports compare-and-contrast tasks, which are often the most critical high-value tasks.
2. Better input devices with a big keyboard and a real mouse.
Nielsen goes on to say that there are 4 additional advantages which will hold for at least a decade:
1. Faster bandwidth supporting the sub-second download for simple Web pages. In contrast, mobile users suffer as if it were 1998, and frequently complain about slow downloads when we test mobile sites.
2. Hardware oomph such as faster processors, more memory, and larger hard drives.
3. Software maturity.
4. Printing. The paperless office is a myth; people often want hardcopy.
Nielsen says that even though the usage is shifting to smaller devices much value remains on the Desktop:
Use of mobile devices will dramatically increase, but much high-value use will remain on desktop PCs. Most companies must support both device classes, and our usability research shows that this must be done with separate UI designs that target the different characteristics of the two types of user experience. One size UI does not fit all screen sizes.
Opposing View: Design for Mobile, Mobile will overtake PCs
On the other side of the argument Keith Teare published a guest post on TechCrunch stating the mobile will overtake PCs.
Anybody building almost anything in 2011 should be thinking 'mobile first' and possibly 'mobile only'.
Teare goes on to say that the fundamentals of the our era have the following characteristics:
Desktop computing devices, including laptops, are being reduced to machines that are used to perform serious work tasks.
Software written for the Web 2.0 era, assuming services in the cloud are consumed by people sitting at desks with browsers, will be increasingly less relevant and used less often.
Mobile devices, and especially smart phones, will accomplish more and more of the things an individual will want to get done, and will do so more easily and productively.
Software and services will run on these devices and use the cloud for storage and delivery. Rich clients will use a thin cloud. The cloud will get bigger but simpler. The old web 2.0 web apps and web services paradigm will decline.
LukeW shared some staggering statistics about the growth of mobile platform with us when he gave his Mobile First talk here at ZURB. It's very tempting to say that mobile will kill off most of PCs and most will drop our laptops and desktops for our iPhones and iPads. After all we all use our mobile devices more and more everyday.
However, we can't deny the fact that tasks such as composing emails, writing blog posts, editing websites, creating spreadsheets, are all best done on PCs. Mobile is great for consuming short pieces of information and quick replies while PCs still rock for more involved tasks such as writing long essays and emails, editing text or code, or creating spreadsheets. There is room in this world for both.
What say you?