People who make predictions about the inevitable move of the majority of users away from general-purpose computing to tablets and smartphones and other limited- or focused-purpose computers often meet disagreement with derision. Their typical defense of their notions about the future of popular computing is that the detractors think like what they are -- geeks, who need a lot of high-power specialized functionality -- rather than like the majority of users, who only really engage in very simple activities with needs easily served by tablets and smartphones and the like.
In some respects, they are right; we geeks think about the future of computing from the perspective of geeks, and not that of people who don't understand (or even want to know) that there are other options for how to use a text editor than point-and-click (for instance). They take things too far, though. In recognizing that there is a difference between different types of computer users, they then go on to imagine that the most simplistic, narrowly identified differences constitute the entire difference, in all ways, applied universally.
The truth of the matter is that the average, mainstream, non-geek user is still an increasingly sophisticated user with every passing year (or month, or week, or day). Sure, they may be uninterested in the finger-tangling complexities of emacs, the steep initial learning curve of vi, or even the combination of simplicity of interface and flexibility and power of text processing (relative to MS Word, though it lags substantially behind vi and emacs) of something like SciTE, but the specific reasons geeks want the full power of general purpose computing at their fingertips are not the only reasons to want that power.
Limited- or focused-purpose computing devices like tablets and smartphones are simply not well-suited to the tasks for which we really buy computers -- any of us, pretty much. Copying content across applications, saving and sharing finds on the Web, discussing and publishing opinions about things in textual form, editing images and video, playing games that require a bit of invested thinking and rapid realtime reactions, highly networked interactive environments, comparison shopping (very difficult with the limited multitasking abilities of tablet and smartphone UI models), and many more everyday tasks are nearly impossible to accomplish in many cases, and far more frustrating to accomplish than they are worth in many other cases, when limited to the computing paradigms people claim will replace general purpose computing systems like laptops and desktops.
Sure, they may not be doing what I did a few days ago -- lying in bed, not yet ready to fall asleep, writing a dice roller program for Android on my Android smartphone using the tiny little keyboard attached because I insisted on getting a smartphone with a physical keyboard that didn't completely suck -- but they'll come to the same conclusion I did, just with relation to different uses for the device:
For a lot of what we do, the entire concept of smartphone and tablet UIs, dictated to a significant degree by the physical form factors of the devices, is simply insufficient to satisfy the user.
edit: Oh, yeah -- I did actually get the dice roller written and working properly, and in under twenty minutes. On the other hand, it would have been less than five, and with far more functionality and flexibility, if I had been writing it on a laptop. A big part of the problem had nothing to do with the actual writing of code, anyway; it had to do with the cumbersome process of switching between applications when I needed to look up API documentation, run the program, and write code for the program. If you think "normal" users don't multitask, you haven't been paying attention, and are probably just grossly underestimating the sophistication of most users.
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