Is Microsoft hoping tablets will go out of style?
Craig Mundie, Microsoft's global chief research and strategy officer, doesn't seem to have much faith in the future of the tablet.
"I don't know whether the big screen tablet pad category is going to remain with us or not," he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Mundie's beliefs run contrary to those of seemingly everyone else in the industry. Aside from the remarkable success of the iPad, virtually every hardware maker in the game has done their best to push out their own tablet. IDC, a tech research firm, predicts tablet sales will reach 42 million in 2011.
Mundie, however, believes that tablets will be stamped out as smartphones and laptops squeeze out the only-temporary tablet. Predicting that the smartphone will become "your most personal computer," with laptops as a "portable desk," Mundie noted that "mobile is something that you want to use while you're moving, and portable is something that you move and then use." The tablet, however, occupies the middle space.
"Personally I don't know whether that space will be a persistent one or not," he said.
His comments contradict not only the general mood of the personal computing industry, but the words of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who ten years ago proclaimed that the tablet was "virtually without limits," going on to predict that within five years it would be the most popular kind of PC in America.
Of course, Gates was not quite accurate in his given timeframe--Microsoft's early tablets failed to find a foothold. But Microsoft doesn't seem too keen to try again this time round, despite a markedly different environment. The company has been slow to develop tablets up to par with the iPad or the Android-run tablets from others, and has yet to release an OS created specifically with the tablet in mind.
But maybe Microsoft can jump on the as-of-yet unrealized PC innovation Mundie does endorse:
"I believe the successor to the desktop is the room, that instead of thinking that the computer is just something on the desk that you go and sit in front of, [in the] future basically the whole room is the computer and you go in it," he said.