Know nothing analyst proclaims death of the mouse within 5 years, cites Guitar Hero as death certificate

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A truly bizarre piece over at the BBC in which one of the mindless, overpaid tape worms of the electronics leviathan (who else? an industry analyst) provocatively opines that we're only three to five years away from the complete eradication of the computer mouse.

Then he contradicts himself in the next sentence:

"The mouse works fine in the desktop environment but for home entertainment or working on a notebook it's over," declared analyst Steve Prentice.

Okay, so people will no longer be using a mouse to control their DVD players. An astute analysis worthy of your $500-an-hour fee, Mr. Prentice. Well done. And notebooks have had trackpads for the last decade, and trackpads are only arguably mice. I follow your hyperintelligence-forged chain of logic. But, wait a second... by your own admission, the mouse still works fine for its intended platform: home computers. So are you saying home computers will die within five years?

Well, no, he's not saying that at all. Or, at least, the BBC didn't bother asking him how the mouse can go wholly extinct within half-a-decade when, by Prentice's own admission, it is still the optimal interface for PCs.

I mean, he's got a point: we're going to start seeing more multi-touch capable displays coming out over the next few years. But these aren't likely to replace mice, only creatively supplement them. The mouse: dead? It's not even wheezing yet.

Basically, for the mouse to die, someone either needs to come up with a simpler, more intuitive way to control PCs, or PCs have to die out. And they may, as people become more and more dependent on laptops and mobile phones. But pointing to devices that have never used mice as their primary input control (he even named Guitar Hero!) isn't proof of jack squat.

But this is business as usual in the world of market analysts. As Rob points out, "if analysts were ever right, they wouldn't be analysts. They'd be consultants."

Say goodbye to the computer mouse [BBC via Crunchgear]

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11 Comments

  1. So if analysts just couldn’t make it as consultants, are tech bloggers just bitter they couldn’t get jobs at Gartner?

    In the guy’s defense, Prentice never talked about Guitar Hero, the BBC editors who chose pictures to accompany the article did. Prentice talked about face recognition software and some kind of brainwave input devices. Pretty big difference. It doesn’t really negate the overall point of what you’re saying, that obviously the mouse isn’t going to die in 5 years. But I think the BBC article makes that point better than this bitter screed when Logitech senior veep Rory Dooley reminds us that a bare fifth of the world’s population has access to the internet. Some of those future users might never touch a mouse thanks to the rise of touchscreens & such, many will probably first get online through a phone, and many will probably never have a machine that we would recognize as a standard desktop PC, but surely some segment of those 4+ billion people will someday have the pleasure of getting repetitive stress injuries from poorly designed mice and keyboards. Isn’t progress grand?

  2. I think the idea of the PC as we know it will die out within a few years, and the mouse with it.

    Home automation techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated, and everyone is leaning towards wanting all of their media accessible anywhere they are in the house. This brings back the old server/dummy terminal scenario, only set up for home use. You have a touch pad that serves as a gateway to everything you have stored, from financial records to music and movies. You can pick where you want to watch your movies, or the pad can be self-aware and set up the devices nearest you appropriately. You can either work off the pad itself or stream an OS interface to the nearest TV and use the pad as a wacom-like tablet. Lefties and Righties get equal representation.

    Everything about your domestic life can currently be controlled by a computer, from appliances to the lights, thermostat, TiVo, music, etc. You no longer need Rube Goldberg to make automatic toast.

    Mice are not the ideal input device for systems like this. They’re not portable, and they’re limited in function.

    Touch screens or other haptic devices are the way to go.

  3. i dont see touch screens working. having to stretch over and move your arm about and that? I can see that getting very tiring and annoying very quickly.

  4. I have never liked the mouse as a computer controller. I have several serious problems with it and I wish it would go a way. The best alternative I’ve used was the pointer-nubbin built into the keyboard of my IBM Thinkpad. It’s far superior for keyboarding because you don’t have to constantly reach away from the keys to position the cursor. Also unlike a mouse you don’t have to hold it perfectly still to use the ‘mouse’ button functions correctly.
    I think the mouse was accepted uncritically because it was the default device when many people first learned to use computers. I hope in the future that there will be more options available.

  5. Speech, facial expressions, eye tracking, brainwave input devices etc. will be a great help to disabled people, but for the rest, it’s the hands that will do the interacting to the foreseeable future. Fingers are dexterous, fast, full of nerves for input and output and, best of all, fully under intentional control.

    I’ve tried a rudimentary form of facial expression and eye tracking interface in a lab test. You wouldn’t believe how much effort it takes to point with your eyes and click with a facial expression. If you have ever tried not to smile at something very funny or not to look at nice set of secondary sex characteristics, you know first hand that face and eyes are not properly under conscious control. Same probably goes for brain waves.

    The only potential coming mouse killer I know is tactile touch interface. Even when that comes, mouse is probably just updated so that you can feel what’s on screen around the cursor on the surface of the mouse.

  6. Touchscreens don’t work for office type work or long periods of browsing unless the monitor is in your lap. I might be showing my age, but I remember IBM Light Pens (that, the keyboard and joystick were the originally supported input devices). They died out because users complained of “gorilla arm”–getting tired of holding your arm out in front of you. The mouse is very comfortable in comparison.

  7. >or working on a notebook

    I go nowhere without a wireless mouse. I hate HATE HAET using trackpads and touchpoints. Even if it means I have to use my leg as a mousepad, I’ll do it.

  8. Mice have been dead in my household for years.

    Why trackballs haven’t completely overtaken them by now is still a mystery. Doesn’t anyone else appreciate deskspace?

  9. Anyone who thinks the mouse is dead needs to try a MX revolution wireless mouse. I`ts like someone put twelve extra useful fingers on your right hand.

  10. I use trackballs both at home and in the office. But then you could argue that they are mutant mice. 🙂

  11. I have used a wacom tablet for over a decade.
    I even have a mini for use with my laptop!
    I can’t imagine a more intuitive device.

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