A couple of weeks ago, I brought both my laptop and smartphone with me onto an airplane. My flight was oversold. Although most of the passengers complied with the strict “one carry-on and one personal item rule”, a sizeable number of passengers were forced to relinquish the carry-on to be checked due to space constraints. I barely avoided that fate and was able to just barely stuff my laptop under the seat in front of me.
The Wall Street Journal asks the question: “Why bother?” Why bring that laptop when you can get it all done with a diminutive smartphone? Just as workers have in the past “ditched” their desktops for laptops, they are now ditching those laptops for smartphones.
You don’t have to sell me. I am fully committed to my smartphone, sometimes choosing to use the smartphone’s internet and email features despite the presence of my laptop at my elbow. Undoubtedly, smartphone technology has come a long way and I believe it beyond question that laptops will be left in the dust as smartphone capabilities continue to improve.
The WSJ article rightly notes some drawbacks: writing and editing on the tiny screens and keyboards can be difficult at best. But as smartphone screens and input mechanisms become easier to use and laptops get more compact, the line between the devices and their intended areas of expertise invariably will blur.
Price plays a significant role in the smartphone movement. The article estimates that the first year enterprise costs of a Blackberry with wireless service are just under $1,300 while the costs of a laptop are $3,500. Costs to replace? $129 for a Blackberry and $2,000 for a laptop. The “always on” technology of the smartphone makes the device more efficient than a laptop. And a smartphone with both wi-fi and cellular connectivity affords greater access to the internet than a laptop limited to wi-fi connectivity only (assuming you haven’t purchased separate cellular internet service for the laptop).
I am all for smaller units that provide more features and useful tools. In fact, I dream of the day I can combine all of my electronic gadgets into one tiny package. I find it hard to believe that there are any lawyers out there who have not adopted smartphone technology as a regular tool, if not complete laptop replacement.
And, as nice as those airport security personnel are to chat with, I doubt anyone would miss the inevitable laptop check at the x-ray machine. Score one for the smartphone!