IBM, one of the biggest contributors in the rise of computing has decided that the end is nigh for desktop PCs.

Mike Rhodin, General Manager of IBM Lotus software, revealed in his keynote speech to VoiceCon that the company feels desktop computers will slowly disappear as more and more people switch to the portability of laptops.

Fade away

“Desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities,” reads a summation in a company press release.

For IBM to sound the death knell for desktops is particularly astounding bearing in mind the company’s history.

From the 1950s until the 70s, IBM was, by a distance, the dominant force in computing and in 1981, the iconic IBM Personal Computer set the compatibility standard for PCs.

Although the manufacturing arm was sold to Lenovo in 2005, the company remains one of the most powerful influences in the industry.

Although an increasing number of people use laptops in the office, the humble desktop is still a huge factor in design and, for the home gaming market, it is still static PCs that dominate the arena.

More predictions

But IBM are not finished there; Rhodin’s other predictions for the future include a great increase in instant messenger programs – replacing the ubiquity of email in businesses, the end of the deskphone and increasing numbers of people working from home.

Collaborative tools will spell the end for traditional face to face meetings and Open Standard software will ‘tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains.’

IBM's predictions in full

  1. The Virtual Workplace will become the rule.  No need to leave the office.  Just bring it along.  Desk phones and desktop computers will gradually disappear, replaced by mobile devices, including laptops, that take on traditional office capabilities.  Social networking tools and virtual world meeting experiences will simulate the feeling on being their in-person.   Work models will be changed by expanded globalisation and green business initiatives that reduce travel and encourage work at home.
  2. Instant Messaging and other real-time collaboration tools will become the norm, bypassing e-mail.  Just as email became a business necessity, a new generation of workers has a new expectation for instant messaging (IM) as the preferred method of business interaction.  This will fuel more rapid adoption of unified communications as traditional IM becomes the core extension point for multi-modal communications. 
  3. Beyond Phone Calls to Collaborative Business Processes.  Companies will go beyond initial capabilities like click-to-call and presence  to deep integration with business processes and line-of-business applications, where they can realise the greatest benefit. 
  4. Interoperability and Open Standards will tear down proprietary walls across business and public domains. Corporate demand for interoperability and maturing of industry standards will force unified communications providers to embrace interoperability. Converged, aggregated, and rich presence will allow businesses and individuals to better find and reach the appropriate resources, removing inefficiencies from business processes and daily lives.  
  5. New meeting models will emerge.  Hang up on routine, calendared conference calls.  The definition of “meetings” will radically transform and become increasingly adhoc and instantaneous based on context and need.  3-D virtual world and gaming technologies will significantly influence online corporate meeting experiences to deliver more life-like experiences demanded by the next generation workers who will operate more efficiently in this familiar environment.