So here’s a bit of an aggressive statement from Google’s European Chief John Herlihy: “In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant.” Herlihy was speaking at a technology conference in Ireland.
The expanded notion behind the provocative quote is that Google is now doing everything for the cloud with mobile devices in mind. Herlihy cited Japan as a leading indicator of where the market is going. The Japanese example cannot be generalized to all cultures and countries however.
Herlihy’s remark is too strong but it is correct that mobile devices will become “primary” for many people in the next three to five years. The usage patterns of PCs and mobile devices right now are highly complementary. However many people will begin to turn to mobile devices first in a number of use cases. There will be some “cannibalization” of PC usage by mobile devices, especially if tablets take off. PCs and mobile devices will increasingly be connected — or more precisely as Herlihy suggests more content will be in the cloud and “platform agnostic.”
Desktops will not be irrelevant in three years but considerable search volume and other types of content access will be taking place on mobile handsets. Most marketers and publishers, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, are generally unprepared for this seismic shift. Indeed, marketing on mobile devices is evoling to become quite different than on the PC. In many cases its more effective but can be considerably more challenging.
While the Herlihy comment is extreme it reflects the new era of computing that we’re rapidly moving into.