Gartner: Smartphones are Cool, Tablets are Hot, and Mobile PCs aren't Mobile

Paul Lilly

Research firm Gartner fanned the flames of anti-PC fanboism by essentially declaring that mobile PCs are dead. To be fair, Gartner didn't actually say as much in so many words, but it sure did paint a pretty grim picture for the future of notebooks and netbooks, which Gartner predicts will have a tough time competing with tablets. Listening to Gartner, you'd think that by this time next year, we're all going to be a bunch of iPad and iPhone toting hipsters too cool for for PCs.

Gartner's vision of the future is one that has consumers substituting media tables in place of mobile PCs, which "already appears to be impacting mobile PC shipments in mature markets." There's a "general loss in consumer enthusiasm for mobile PCs," Gartner says, who predicts that consumers will "adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device."

"Even in the professional market, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, likely at least delaying some PC replacements," said Raphael Vasquez, senior research analyst at Gartner.

It doesn't stop there. Gartner says media tablets have exposed the limitations of PCs, and so too have smartphones. In fact, "the current 'cool' device is the smartphone, and now PCs will soon have to do battle with media tablets when they are launched in large numbers in the second quarter of 2011." Gartner also points out that "up to now, the appeal of mobile PCs has been their portability. But mainstream mobile PCs have not shed sufficient weight, and do not offer the all-day battery life, to substantiate their promise of real mobility."

And that's only some of what Gartner had to say. Should you be concerned that your notebook is no longer in vogue? Not as far as we're concerned. We don't deny that tablets are arguably the hottest tech items on the market right now, but Gartner's probably getting ahead of themselves by predicting the mortality of mobile PCs. We're excited as everyone else about tablets, and at the same time, we're aware of their shortcomings. Hammering out a lengthy email is time consuming enough on a tablet, but try typing out a multiple page report. It's not fun. And while they're great for casual entertainment and social networking, you're not going to rip a DVD on your tablet or do anything that requires something more powerful than a Tegra 2 chip.

What's your take on all this? Do you think tablets have a shot at eclipsing notebooks, or can these two segments co-exist?

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