Are Cellphones Really Displacing Laptops?

Time to Leave the Laptop BehindBack in October I wrote about the myth of all-day computing, noting that the need for a 24-hour battery cycle is perhaps diminishing in the face of altering and fragmenting usage patterns – particularly the rise of the netbook and the iPhone.

Indeed, last week ReadWriteWeb and the BBC’s celebrated Ian Forrester noted that the iPhone is Apple’s Netbook, representing almost half of all traffic through wifi networks.

Regardless of hyperbole, there’s mounting evidence that cellphones are indeed displacing laptops. Back in October, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on whether it was Time To Leave The Laptop Behind, analyzing the impact of smartphones on laptop usage.

Some of the more interesting findings from Nick Wingfield’s article included…

  • Mobile workers rely on their laptops to create PowerPoint presentations and do other heavy-duty computing. But then they leave the laptops in their offices, homes or hotel rooms and take their smart phones out into the world — to client meetings, say, or factory visits.
  • ‘road warriors’ are going even further, ditching their laptops entirely and doing all their mobile work from smart phones.
  • in a survey of 1,402 technology users, only 3% of smart-phone users said they rely exclusively on a smart phone when they’re on the road. 52% said they could envision using a smart phone in the future as their sole computing device.
  • 12,000 of Verizon’s field technicians have moved over to BlackBerrys….replacing 1’500 laptops and eliminating the need to buy 5-7’000 more in the future.

Though the laptop sales remain undiminished, usage patterns are certainly fragmenting and will only deepen as performance increases and prices decrease. Already, I’m finding myself using Mail, Twitterific and Google as much on my iPhone as my MacBook Pro.

I wonder how many other web workers are seeing their attention dividing increasingly between their smartphone and laptop.