The high water mark for PC sales is definitely behind us, and we are now sailing into the tablet era of computing.
Damon Porter, NPD: Tablets to Outsell Laptops in Q4, Beyond
Buoyed by Black Friday sales, more tablets than laptops are projected to ship in the North American market for the first time ever in the fourth quarter - and it won’t even be close, according to NPD DisplaySearch.
NPD reckoned that 21.5 million tablets will ship in North America during the holiday quarter as compared with a forecast of just 14.6 million unit shipments for laptops and mini-notes. The trend will continue and accelerate in 2013, according to the research firm, which is forecasting the shipment of 80 million tablets in North America for the year versus 63.8 million laptops.
If the researcher’s final forecast for full-year unit shipments of tablets and laptops in the U.S. is on the mark, 2012 would become the first year in which tablets outsold laptops in the country.
But NPD didn’t expect tablets to outsell laptops in the worldwide market for a few more years. That won’t happen until 2015, when the researcher is projecting global annual shipments of 275.9 million tablets and 270 million notebook PCs.
I bet those projections will be exceeded.
Most importantly, and not talked about in this stats-heavy piece, is the fall of the old school WIMP user experience (window, icon, menu, pointer) and the emergence of new paradigms for user experience on touch-oriented proximal devices: smartphones and tablets.
Dave Winer wants us to ignore the rapid adoption of apps — primarily driven by the genius generation of smart phones now on the market — because he says they ‘are not the future’. This reminds me of the Chico Marx line, ‘Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?’
Leaving aside the astonishing proliferation of apps, what is it that Winer is trying to get at? What would lead to the fall of the applications ecology out there?
Dave Winer, Why Apps Are Not The Future
Visualize each of the apps they want you to use on your iPad or iPhone as a silo. A tall vertical building. It might feel very large on the inside, but nothing goes in or out that isn’t well-controlled by the people who created the app. That sucks!
The great thing about the web is linking. I don’t care how ugly it looks and how pretty your app is, if I can’t link in and out of your world, it’s not even close to a replacement for the web. It would be as silly as saying that you don’t need oceans because you have a bathtub. How nice your bathtub is. Try building a continent around it if you want to get my point.
We pay some people to be Big Thinkers for us, but mostly they just say things that please people with money. It pleases the money folk to think that the wild and crazy and unregulated world of the web is no longer threatening them. That users are happy to live in a highly regulated, Disneyfied app space, without all that messy freedom.
I’ll stay with the web.
So when Dave means ‘the web’, he means the generation of the web where we were primarily interested in web pages and how they referenced each other by hyperlinks. This is what I call the Web of Pages, and it was a very productive basis for a decade, during which time we rapidly developed and migrated onto the Web of Flow, which is where we are mostly living now.
Instead of pages and links, the most important objects in the Web of Flow are people and relationships. Instead of wandering around the web, jumping from page to page using browsers, people now use social apps, and those apps bring information to us through social relationships.
Yes, we still use URLs as convenient IDs for snippets of information, and those are the handles being passed around by apps, but they are increasingly becoming proxies for information that is embedded on the pages, used increasingly as a mechanism to fetch the information and bring it into a social context.
But Dave thinks we want to live in a 2008 era forever. I wrote about some of these arguments a while back in a piece called Why Closed Works: Moving Past Steampunk Thinking About The Future Of Computing, which dealt with the open/closed issue surrounding the rise of apps, and the fall of the WIMP (windows, icons, menus, pointer) style of human-computer interaction.
Personally, I want a future where we move farther away from the physical layers of the web and higher into the social layers. Here’s what I think is right around the corner:
Lastly, Dave seems to have an issue with ‘Big Thinkers’ who supposedly say what they do to make others — those with ‘big money’ — happy. But I don’t see that people advocating a new model of communication and connection through a different sort of web are necessarily doing the work of monied interests. I’m advocating it, personally, because I think it will lead to a richer user experience, and ultimately, stronger social connection in the world.