After a day spent roaming the halls of the Austin Convention Center at South by Southwest listening in on other peoples’ conversations and tracking trends, I am somewhat surprised by the relative scarcity of notebooks. In years past, the halls were lined with people glued to the walls, power cords linking their laptops (usually Macs) to the outlets. Others would be clustered around tables working on their notebooks.
They’re still here, but are far fewer. Right now, I can see several open tables and an entire open outlet. Instead, people are clustered around mobile phones, showing off applications, photos or videos. You can see little clusters of them dotting the halls, like this group I photographed here. I’ve even seen one or two people charging their iPhones, rather than charging notebooks, in an outlet. As for netbooks, I haven’t seen many at all.
The folks attending this show are generally ahead of the computing trends in the general population, so while I don’t foresee folks dumping their notebooks in favor of smartphones, I do think people are more comfortable with letting their smartphone be their computer for a longer amount of time. The willingness of these attendees to rely mainly on their phones on the floor of the conference is a shift from years before. I bet it’s a shift that continues as mobile phones get smarter and mobile broadband gets better.