Obsolescence is inevitable. Suck it up and enjoy the ride.
By now you've probably heard that Microsoft's global chief research guy, Craig Mundie, thinks tablets are a passing fad. His exact words were that he is not sure whether the form-factor will "remain with us or not". And he has good cause to ask that question. As Microsoft's head of research, Mundie has had access to all sorts of top-secret, deep development projects that are still years from fruition. One of them, a prototype smartphone, was even given a mini-reveal:
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"...instead of seeing a screen it can beam individual rays of light into your eyes right on your retina ... [so] you can look at your phone and see HDTV".
It's a cool idea- and not that far off from MIT's Sixth Sense project. Mundie went further with his futurism, predicting a world where "the desktop is the room".
Craig is right. Tablets won't be a popular form-factor forever. In ten years, they could easily be usurped by something new and shinier. In fact, that is almost guaranteed to happen. This is the tech industry. Things move quickly. The fact that the land-line phone now seems like an antiquated dinosaur to most of us doesn't mean it didn't serve a useful purpose in the development of consumer electronics. There are no feature phones without land-line phones. And there are no smartphones without feature phones.
Technology builds on itself. The traditional desktop will eventually fade from mainstream use, but the lessons engineers and developers learned about building for a productive platform have transferred well to more portable devices like the laptop and the tablet. And the tablet is already teaching us valuable lessons about making computing more comfortable for the everyman.
The tablet's legacy will be a consumer population who is already well-primed for gesture-based user interfaces. Today, we have the iPad and the smartphone and Microsoft's Kinect. "Tomorrow", we may find all those devices have coalesced into the next big thing.
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That doesn't mean tablets are a 'flash in the pan' or a 'passing fad', it means they're destined to be one more step in humanity's long race from sticks and stones to silicon and transistors. Obsolescence- of both products and form-factors, is inevitable. Don't get too bent out of shape over it.