Why the desktop PC may see a comeback in the mobile era

iPads and Android tablets often can replace a laptop, but not always a computer

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Which brings me to the desktop PC: Because my MacBook is almost always docked to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor -- and stays at home or in the office when I'm traveling -- why do I need a laptop, exactly? Many friends and colleagues report the same behavior. Their Windows or Mac laptops are used as if they were desktop PCs, and they rely on their iPads or Android tablets exclusively when traveling. Granted, I live at the edge of Silicon Valley, whose denizens are also pushing the technology envelope. But I increasingly see this laptop-as-desktop behavior from folks across the country.

My four-year-old MacBook at the office is slated for replacement in early 2013, and I'll have to get another laptop per our IT purchasing policies -- laptops are the standard at most businesses these days, and IT doesn't want to deal with exceptions when it doesn't have to. Frankly, I'd much rather get a Mac Mini or (the new sexy) iMac instead. My work MacBook never leaves the office, instead moving between my desk and a locked desk drawer. Why pay for that unused screen? My MacBook at home is not two years old, so I won't have to think about replacing it for some years yet, but if I had to replace it today, a Mac Mini or iMac would be my likely choices. It also rarely leaves my home office, instead getting shunted between my desk and a locked drawer.

I suspect the workplace of the near future will have tablets as the standard device for travelers and mobile workers, with basic PCs on their desks for their more specialized needs. At home, I suspect everyone will have a tablet, while the PC will become a shared device for specialty needs, and perhaps a second PC for mom or dad's work. There's no reason for those PCs to be laptops.

Desktops like the Mac Mini are smaller, cheaper, and at least as powerful. Don't be surprised if the laptop has peaked, and while tablets increasingly take their place, desktop PCs gain a new role as anchor computers.

This article, "Why the desktop PC may see a comeback in the mobile era," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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