By 2006, only 45 percent of corporate users are expected to consider their desktop to be their primary information device, according to a new report from Meta Group, Inc., an industry analyst firm based in Stamford, Conn.
The laptop will be making a surge in the next few years. Meta analysts predict that 40 percent of users will be primarily using a laptop or tablet PC. And another 15 percent will be using a thin-client or hand-held device.
As users become loss fixated on their desktop, they will turn to multiple devices to keep them connected to business contacts, as well as family and friends. One device simply won't be enough.
''By 2007, the average user will interact regularly with at least four distinct computing devices --- a personal home PC, smart digital entertainment system, corporate computer, and mobile information device," noted Steve Kleynhans, vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services. ''This multiplicity of devices will force software vendors to focus on information synchronization, as well as 'thinning' or 'roaming' applications to enable users to access their information independent of the device they are using.''
Meta analysts advice IT managers to focus on user needs instead of trying to make the device fit the person. Be aware of alternative devices coming into the market and how they can be used to fill mobile computing needs and specific information access needs.
''There is an opportunity in the corporate space, where 60 percent of information workers are 'corridor warriors' who roam from meeting to meeting, to provide users with access to basic information, such as e-mail, instant messaging and Web browsing, along with note-taking capabilities while attending meetings on premises,'' notes Kleynhans in the report. ''The devices could even be shared among users or possibly kept in meeting rooms. Any costs should be outweighed by the increase in meeting productivity for most knowledge workers.''
Kleynhans points out that right now many tablet PCs do not have enough functions to fill the primary needs for most workers. But he sees that changing. He says that improved form factors along with a drop in cost should bring the tablet PC to the mainstream by 2006.