The world is getting smaller – and so are our computers. What does this mean?

Tablet PCs and smartphones are poised to oust desktop computers and notebooks” says the folk from in their Business Trends for 2011 blogpost. They also report that “…every third new PC [is] a tablet computer”. Since I wrote the post about mobile and the nature of shopping I have been thinking a lot about how tablets (more so than mobile phones I believe) will be an important part of how we shop in future.

As we know iPads are revolutionising the way we can connect with information, and they are beginning to be utlised in museum audience research and educational programs as well. The National Museum of Australia is trialling iPads in their upcoming exhibition about the Irish in Australia (a must-see exhibition for me!) and the Powerhouse Museum installed eight devices in their revamped Ecologic exhibitions (with some very useful feedback about how that all went on the Fresh+New(er) blog - follow the links back a bit). The New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester's iPad project “… hosts a Digital Interpretation Guide that was developed by young people through a series of workshops with artists and designers”. This encouraged them to record their responses to a particular series of artworks. There is also a good piece – What can the iPad do for museums on the MuseumNext blog.

A series of emails between museum evaluators threw up a range of museums that were using iPads to conduct surveys (which we’ll be doing soon too) and other forms of audience research. I see that the new iPads with camera and recording capabilities will be great for capturing live feedback as visitors make their way through an exhibition (well, at least that’s my excuse for needing to get an iPad2 and I’m sticking to it!).

Tablets, coupled with geo-location and mobile websites with easy to use shopping carts provide retailers the opportunity to make sales more efficient and targeted. Let me give you an example. Imagine maintenance staff in an exhibition with their internet-enabled tablet device, they see a cabinet (or something else) that needs fixing, locate it via GPS, photograph it, record the problem via the voice recorder, upload this information to their supplier’s mobile site, the site matches what you need, takes you to their shopping cart and viola – an order is complete!

I don’t know whether this is a reality yet, but I see things may go this way and, finally, where all the bits of the techno-world start to come together. The article contains details of several more business IT trends and is worth a browse.