08/31/2012 05:25 EDT

Landlines Will Disappear From Workplace Along With PCs, And Maybe Tablets Too: Survey


Telephone landlines will disappear from the workplace within five years, and personal computers are also likely to go, according to a survey of senior IT officers that also found doubts about the tablet computer’s long-term prospects.

The poll, carried out for British internet and wireless provider Virgin Media Business, found 65 per cent of chief information officers believe the landline will disappear from offices within the next five years, while 62 per cent said the same thing about PCs.

The pace of change with technology is having a transformative effect on the way we work,” Virgin Media COO Tony Grace said, as quoted at the Daily Telegraph. “A decade ago it would have been unthinkable to suggest an office without telephones. Now it’s hard to imagine being separated from our smartphones.”


The survey’s results may not come as much of a surprise given the obvious and rapid changes in communication technology in recent years.

But some of the findings were less expected: Nearly one-quarter -- 24 per cent -- of respondents said they expected tablet computers like the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab to disappear from the workplace as well. That suggests tech experts are still not entirely convinced the new technology will last in the long term.

Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, expressed that doubt about tablets at a 2011 conference, when he told the crowd he believed the smartphone “will become your most personal computer” while laptops will become “portable desks,” leaving little room for the tablet.

But for a soon-to-be obsolete technology, tablets sure are selling fast. Tech research group Gartner Inc. forecasts that worldwide tablet sales will double in 2012. In Canada, tablet sales tripled in 2011, according to Media Technology Monitor.

In the U.S., Forrester Research predicts that tablet sales will more than quadruple from 2010 to 2015, rising to 44 million tablets sold per year.

But the death of the telephone landline is in less doubt. A recent study found nearly one-third of U.S. households are now cellphone-only. Canadians are hanging on to their landlines somewhat more -- only 13 per cent of homes were cellphone-only in 2010, according to Statistics Canada, but that was up from eight per cent in 2008. And among the under-35 crowd, half of households no longer have a landline.

Futurologist Peter Cochrane told the Daily Telegraph he expects the entire traditional telephone infrastructure to disappear once fibre-optic cables are in place for that crucial “last mile” of cable to homes and offices.

"The public switch telephone network will be closed down, it's about as relevant as morse code,” he said. “Optical fibre will replace landlines and most devices will connect using wireless. But the landlines can't go until there is wireless connectivity to replace it. There won't be wireless connectivity to replace it until there is optical fibre available to offices and homes in sufficient density."


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