The End of an Era

The iPhone has been on the market for more than a year now, and as a result technology manufacturers are beginning to see the touch screen as a viable solution for personal computing.

Before the iPhone hit the market in 2007 the general population’s experience with a touch screen interface was limited to devices such as the Palm (s palm) Treo, Tablet PC’s, and GPS navigation systems.  All of which have one thing in common, their touch screen interfaces can only recognize a single point of contact at a time.  It wasn’t until the iPhone that consumers really got a taste of a practical use for the touch screen, and we have started seeing multi-touch interfaces making their way into other products such as HP’s (s hpq) Touch Smart PC.

There is one word that I find most appropriate to describe what Apple (s aapl) has accomplished with their multi-touch user interface for the iPhone: renaissance.  As many of you recall from your days in literature classes, renaissance means rebirth, and I see it as the rebirth of the personal computer, meaning the end of the keyboard and mouse interface.

The way I see it, a personal computer is defined by four major components: the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and CPU.  Just looking at Apple’s iMac line of products, they have already combined the CPU and monitor.  Imagine if Apple or another company elaborated a bit more on that concept and discontinued the keyboard and mouse all together.

I am not implying that slapping a touch screen on a current Mac or PC and calling it a day. But rather I believe that in the next few years we will see the standard of the personal computing interface change dramatically, and possibly take a backseat to practicality.

As consumers are we beginning to see the keyboard/mouse dynasty come to an end as touch screens become more advanced? Perhaps this is propelling us into the next level of home computing where the nerd fantasy of owning the Minority Report computer becomes a reality.