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The laptop is dead

Mike Elgan | April 3, 2017
Here's my open-and-shut case on why the venerable laptop is on its way out

All these alternatives provide incentives to use smartphones instead of laptops. And there are three more trends — the last of which will close the lid on laptops once and for all.

The first fatal trend is that young people are already choosing smartphones over laptops, even without docking and clamshell smartphones. ComScore reports that the use of laptops and desktops among younger people is on the decline. Some 20 percent of millennials use their smartphone as their only computing device, according to a recent report, and this percentage grows each year. Raw demographics alone favor the end of laptops.

The second fatal trend is that the industry is champing at the bit to move everything off Intel and onto ARM. (Intel and Intel-compatible chips have powered desktop and laptop platforms for decades; the smartphones and smartphone apps run on ARM chips.) Once laptops, especially laptops from Apple, run ARM chips, they'll run iOS and Android instead of OS X and Windows. And at that point, they'll essentially be identical to docking solutions, but more expensive.

The third and final fatal trend can be found in your wallet. Smartphones are becoming amazing. The Galaxy S8 is amazing. And this year's iPhone is expected to be mind-blowing as well. The new phones have cameras that rival DSLRs. They have performance that rivals desktop PCs. They run increasingly amazing apps, including professional-quality apps. Unlike laptops, smartphones are exciting.

And they're expensive.

Consumers are now ready to pay $700, $800 — even $1,000 and upwards for a phone. (Already a top-of-the-line iPhone 7 with AppleCare costs $1,100. The iPhone 8 is expected to be more expensive.)

Consumers will pay this amount because smartphones are worth it. This is especially true if they don't have to shell out $1,500 or more for a laptop as well.

Laptops are too boring and expensive. The industry is churning out new designs that enable smartphones as laptop replacements. Young people are favoring smartphones. The industry wants to use smartphone OSes. And consumers are spending more on smartphones, which will make us spend less on laptops.

The dominance of laptops is over. You may never buy another laptop.


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