2008 will be remembered as the year where the laptops will outsell their desktop counterparts. Now, if you take mobile computers in all their forms: smartphones, UMPC, subnotebook and of course, laptops, they already easily outsell desktops by far.

How’s that?

Over the years, they have overcomed their weakness and have become more conveniant than desktops.

They evolved from the bulky laptop to a variety of products, each one answering specific needs:

  • Weight/Portability: A friend of mine was telling me how she remembers when she had a “portable”, that is, a 30 pounds computer that you were carrying like a suitcase, with an handle.
    UMPC and subnotebooks, weighting from 1.5 to less than 3 pounds, answered that need. I was using the Acer Aspire One last weekend and I could barely feel its weight in my bag when I was using my bike. Now, compare that to my 50 pounds desktop.
  • Lower power consumption/Longer battery life: Subnotebooks are hitting 6-7 hours of battery life with 6-cell batteries and they are likely to get even better when the platform will be improved, as they are using Intel’s old power hungry 945 chipset at the moment. Dell announced a laptop with an optional battery to hit 19 hours of battery life and then just a few days after, HP replied with a 24 hours of battery life laptop. Yes, an entire day of use, withut plugging the laptop in or for normal people like you and me, two days of 12 hours.
  • More power: With the new Montevina 2 platform out and the quad-core Yorkfield processors to go along with it, laptops are getting powerful enough for nearly all users.
  • Price: With prices going down the drain, starting at $299 for the Eee and even as low as $99 for the Dell Mini Inspiron if you buy it along another Dell laptop, prices are no longer a problem for anyone.

What will happen in the next few years?

I predict that desktop computers, as we know them right now, will become a rare specie. They will most likely adapt to replace servers as we know them today, in which case servers would completely replace supercomputers, which are already being replaced by clusters of servers as we speak now.

Why? Currently, the only user who need more processing power are: Gamers, people who do audio/photo/video editing, researchers and modders/overclockers.

Gamers will move to laptops, as they are portable and they can bring it over to their friends to play online together. Why bring a 50 pounds case to a lanparty, no to mention the fear of breaking a part in the moving process, when you can just pack your laptop in your backpack?

It’s already happening and the transition will go faster with the release of more powerful laptops, along with more customization available. Think barebone, but for a laptop, along with th possibility of choosing pretty much every part, including the video card.

People who do editing will most likely move to laptops given some time, as the hardware evolves. At one point, it will offer enough performance and it will be more conveniant to have a laptop, especially for photographers who travel, to edit their photos on the go.

Of course, researchers and modders/overclockers are likely to stick with desktops for longer, but for how much longer? Who knows.

The average user, also known as the mainstream, will move massively to mobile computers. Dual cores laptops already offer enough power for them and they will be further improved in the future, by

  • Reducing power consumption, thus increading battery life.
  • Further increasing processing power, with new platforms and cpus.
  • Decreasing the price, as they become more and more mass produced.
  • Offering more options, as customers ask for more and more manufacturers produce mobile computer, which will increase competition and force them to innovate to increase their market share.

Pineview; Atom’s successor:

Perharps “Pineview”, Intel’s successor for the Atom, might be the one that will officially declare the death of the desktop as we know it. According to Intel’s roadmap, it will contain one or two cores, with hyper-threading, so 2 or 4 logical processors, integrated graphics and a built-in single-channel DDR2 memory controller.

Now, I don’t know if this will be an evolution of the Atom, or will it be based on the upcoming Nehalem processor, considering that it will have integrated graphics and memory controller as well.

Along with that, the Nehalem refresh, will also bring integrated graphics and memory controller to “full-size” laptops.

Both the Pineview and the Nehalem refresh architecture are coming to you in Q3 2009, just in time to Christmas and the new decade, Intel might just be the one companie to release the products which will launch us in a new decade of new and powerful mobile computers.

My take on this:

I’ve owned a laptop for 7 months now, I’m loving it and I’m the verge of selling my desktop to buy a subnotebook. I just don’t see the use in my desktop anymore. What about you?