Death of the mouse?
While perhaps slow to adopt, businesses may not be able to resist touch interfaces forever, the analysts said.
“Enterprises aren’t particularly out there looking for touch,” Gedda said. “It’s just coming to them.” There’s “not so much demand for touch but demand for a new range of devices like smartphones and tablets both from staff and business managers,” Gedda said. “Touch itself is a side effect of technology change.”
“We’ve been stuck with the keyboard/mouse interface for a long time now, and it was only a matter of time before it was going to be modernised,” Gedda said. “Touch is just one change” coming to software interfaces; greater use of voice and video gestures are also on the horizon, he said.
However, it may be too soon to say the mouse is on its last breath. The mouse “has a long life left,” said Edwards.
Touch and voice are still just “complementary interfaces” to the mouse and keyboard on the desktop, Tsai said. They’re helpful in certain cases, “but I wouldn’t think that would become a primary interface” for productivity tasks, “because at the moment, most of the applications that we are relying on for office are still very mouse-and-keyboard driven.”
“Touch is still more for content consumption,” she added.
Adoption of touch will be driven by operating systems and killer applications using the interface, Edwards said. Ease of use could also be a factor, as touch may be more intuitive than the mouse, he said. “I can remember seeing people in the early days of Windows reaching out and wanting to touch the screen.”
Edwards predicted there will be “a definite group of users within the workplace who do find [touch] appealing, and those will be the new entrants to the work force.” It will come down to whether business “wants to incur that additional expense for that.”
Ultimately, it will be “the consumer experience that drives all of this,” he said. “Not every consumer is an enterprise employee, but every enterprise employee is a consumer. We are taking our consumer habits into the workplace along with our consumer expectations and our consumer experiences. This is driving the use and adoption of a wide range of technologies into the workplace and has given birth to the phrase, consumerisation of IT.”
Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam