In his Ode to the Desktop, Dion writes:

I consumed more and created less

I’ve written down similar thoughts many years ago, and I’m glad we’re having this discussion again. The above summarizes the biggest flaw of the new and shiny. Tablets and phones are inferior when it comes to most creative tasks: Worse input methods (except when drawing/sketching), not enough screen real estate to work with lots of data or various content at once.

Microsoft’s attempts

But today’s reality wasn’t always set in stone: Microsoft, in 2010, tried to turn things around with the Microsoft Courier, a tablet-like device focussed squarely on productivity. A device I longed for, the moment I saw its leaked, beautiful concept. A device that never saw the light of day.

Instead, Microsoft settled on giving us the Surface two years later – still arguably best-in-class in the tablet segment when used as productivity work-horse, but so much less inspired than the Courier.

Far-reaching implications…maybe

I’m now starting to wonder how far reaching the implications of our new mobile world are, truly: How many trillions larger would our GDP be, had the mobile revolution not happened? Had we focussed on making our most productive tools even more so?

What if our most brilliant minds had worked on making us even more productive on even better laptops and Desktops? What if the big behemoths of companies in the business of building the most advanced office & productivity suites hadn’t panicked and overcorrected their trajectory towards mobile? If they’d have spent all their energy not on mobile companion apps, but on advancing their already superior working Desktop counterparts?

OK OK, it’s not all bad

It’s my gut that’s talking, which might very well be wrong. Maybe our mobile revolution has done more good than bad, e.g.:

  • for the next billion for whom their phone is their first computer. For them, the cheaper, smaller form factor has been a life-altering experience, one they could afford for the first time.
  • for children and the elderly, for whom tablets with their easier-to-grasp input method are much more accessible than before
  • and for people with disabilities, to whom iOS’ accessibility advances are a true game-changer.

And needless to say, I use my phone and tablet every day for the things they’re good at.

Revive the Desktop, please

But let’s be real – it’d be a cruel joke to the next generation if we forced them to work with Photoshop on a 5-inch screen.

Let’s upgrade the next billion to affordable laptops and help them be (even more) productive. Let’s include Desktop as viable platform when thinking about future startups and products to build. Let’s celebrate the timeless beauty of a hardware keyboard.

I certainly will.