Sorry this is a bit of a nerdy post, an advanced warning for those of you that don't care. Let's talk about the future of technology, computers specifically, and what it will look like. I wanted to get my thoughts together and documented so that I can see how my perceptions of computing evolution change over time.
We're just a couple days past the release of the third generation iPad, generally speaking Apple calls the iPad (and the iPhone) a "Post PC" device. While I think the marketing term is cute, it sells the scope of what those devices will accomplish in the future, a little short. When most nerds hear Post PC, they seem to either dismiss it out of hand, calling the iPad a toy, or feel that the iPad/iPhone will replace computers for people that browse the web, send email, share pictures, and play games in line at the grocery store.
While true, most people will replace their home computers in the next 2-3 years with an iPad, that isn't going far enough. The iPad and iPhone are destined to replace computing devices utilized by everyone including so-called powers users (programmers, graphic artists, scientists, nerds in general). It won't be long before I can replace the laptop from work, my MacBook, and whatever else with an iPhone and iPad. Sit down at your desk, dock your phone, and that 27 inch monitor (with built in graphics card), keyboard, mouse, and hard drive will all pair with the phone, restoring to the state they had when I picked it up off the doc at home. I'm not even sure that this is going far enough, does the phone even really need to leave my pocket?
These aren't consumption devices, they're just generally not that good yet. The iPad and iPhone are awesome (we own three iPads and have owned five iPhones), but they're just the start. Limited by processor, storage, battery, and connectivity technologies, they can only achieve a fraction of their destined functionality. I can't imagine attempting to modify a large spreadsheet, write code, or play Portal 2 on an iPad today (let alone an iPhone). That isn't because they'll never be suited for such tasks, they just aren't there yet.
Technology will continue to get better and I can imagine that in the next 10 years I won't need this clunky old laptop.
1. I'm ignoring the servers that power all of this, iCloud, the Internet, almost all the services we use daily need them and I don't see them going away any time soon.