The PC is taking its last breaths, if you believe Google executive John Herlihy.
"In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant," Herily, Google's VP of global ad operations, told attendees at the Digital Landscapes conference in Dublin Wednesday, according to Irish tech site siliconrepublic.com. "In Japan, most research is done today on smartphones, not PCs."
Sound a little overblown? Well, sure. But whether or not anyone at Google really believes that we'll soon all be using our Nexus Ones, BlackBerrys and iPhones as our primary work devices, the company does believe -- with good reason -- that mobile is the future.
In Barcelona last month, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, "Our programmers are doing work on mobile first. We'll still have a desktop version, but we'll also have one on a high-performance mobile phone. The top programmers want to work on mobile apps."
That's not quite the same as giving PCs until 2013, but it does show where Google's emphasis is, and why the company is doing its best to become the biggest player in the mobile world.
"Mobile makes the world's information universally accessible," said Herily on Wednesday. "Because there's more information and because it will be hard to sift through it all, that's why search will become more and more important. This will create new opportunities for new entrepreneurs to create new business models -- ubiquity first, revenue later."
Those budding entrepreneurs make Google nervous, according to Herily (although probably not as nervous as Google is making the mobile industry). "There is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to end the need for Google" with a new disruptive technology or service, said Herily. "It's our challenge not to let that happen by continuing to drive innovation and value."
Herily, who works in Google's Dublin office and is a veteran of First Data, PeopleSoft, Adobe and Oracle, stressed Google's flexibility -- and its desire to not let its complex organizational structure get in the way of serving increasingly knowledgeable customers. "Customers today have more choices and are more aware of our competitors' offerings," he said. "Unless we can serve them 24-7, 365 days a year, competitors will eat our lunch. There is a level of paranoia there."