Symbian boss predicts the death of the desktop

The personal computer as we know it will soon be dead, replaced by rapidly growing demand for smart mobile devices, according to the head of Symbian.

The takeover of traditional personal computing by the so-called 'smartphone generation' was predicted by Nigel Clifford, chief executive of Symbian, in his keynote speech at The Smartphone Show at London's ExCel Centre.

"The mobile phone is most likely to carry the dream of the personal computer to its conclusion," said Clifford. Even laptops will be superseded by the mobile device of the future, he predicted, with desktop sales already flatlining.

Clifford looked forward to a pervasive 'smartphone lifestyle' within five years, with 30 per cent of all phones sold by 2011 being intelligent devices. He estimates that so-called 'leapfrog' economies in the developing world will account for 50 per cent of smartphone sales by then, as consumers and businesses bypass the standard PC form factor. By 2011, he says, 50 per cent of Internet services will be accessed by mobile.

"I don't know if I'd go as far as to predict the death of the PC," said Wendy Holloway, association manager of the dotMobi Advisory Group, speaking at the event to IT Pro.

"Our research says that for every PC now owned, there are four mobile phones in the world. But I see PCs and smart mobile devices co-existing for a long time."

She said the .mobi domain will be accessible from both standard PCs as well as smartphones, helping to prolong the life of the PC.

"More and more of what you can do on a PC is now possible on mobiles," said Miska Hakala, global sales manager with security specialist F-Secure, also at the event.

"Push email is a good example of this happening right now. Once you've got the same security on a mobile device as you currently have on a PC, this process will accelerate. But I'm not betting on PCs going away."