The Mouse is Dead? Not So Fast, Slick…

It’s probably an overstatement to call this guy a tool, but Mike Elgan over at Datamation seems to think that the mouse is obsolete and will disappear from computers in 2-4 years. Aside from this being a gross overstatement, his reasons for thinking this go beyond any kind of rational thought. Here’s why he thinks that the mouse is dead:

1. Apple’s improved large task pad on its new notebooks.
2. Gaming pointing devices (like joysticks and steering wheels).
3. “Brain-reading” devices.
4. Apple iPhone and iPhone killers.

Okay, let’s get real here. First of all, an apple task/track pad with multi-touch is cool, but as unwieldy as any other track pad. Surely I’m not the only person in the world who rarely uses the track pad on any laptop because of its jumpy and ineffective nature. Even my new Dell, with an “improved” touchpad is still annoying enough that I still plug in the mouse for most things.

Second, gaming pointing devices? Is he kidding? I don’t know about too many other people, but in my day-to-day work, I’m not using a steering wheel or joystick to click on things or move things around on my computer screen. The mouse is much more efficient and easier to manage, and certainly takes up a lot less desk space.

Third, “brain reading” devices? These are at least a decade away from true development, and will come as a result of work in the disability services area of technology development before it ever hits the general market. Even rudimentary “pointing” devices that use eye or head movement are a long way from being true and useful replacements for standard input devices. Ask anyone using such a device and they’ll readily tell you it is great to have something they can use, but nothing replaces true tactile movement of the healthy human hand.

Fourth, the iPhone? I don’t own one and in fact only know one person that does, and she’s an Apple FanGirl. I know they’ve sold a million or three of them, but the device isn’t on my list of things to buy in this lifetime, as it doesn’t give me anything I can’t get on devices I already own and use.

Sorry, Mr. Elgan, maybe you’ve been gaming too long, but in the real world, the mouse isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

4 thoughts on “The Mouse is Dead? Not So Fast, Slick…

  1. I really don’t know about tablet / touch interfaces. I love my iPod touch and use it for personal email and web browsing at work – and it is wonderful for what it does. But the mouse is really a wonderfully simple and efficient device for accomplishing tasks.

    Oh – and I was out at lunch with my HP laptop using the trackpad for an hour … good gravy was that awful!

    Random thought – one of mmy all-time faves is the pop-out mouse in the early HP Omnibook … I still have my Omnibook 800CT for DOS stuff and it remains brilliant.

  2. OK, what if, like that table thingie, you could sit at the table and use a stylus pen, or you hand, finger to do everything? And a smaller, notebook size version for travel. What do you think?

  3. Thanks for your comment, Michael. I did use it once and it was a fascinating little ride, but I have to admit that it wasn’t more than just a one-time play-around with someone else’s machine (my afore-mentioned Apple FanGirl friend). I can’t see getting rid of my mouse at this point, all tracking devices just make me insane, from the track ball to the pointer mouse to the eraser mouse to the track pad on virtually any laptop I’ve ever encountered. Even this new Dell drives me crazy, one time a light tap will make it select, and another, I’m practically hammering the pad and it won’t select.

  4. I largely agree with you, but would ask if you have spent any amount of time with the trackpad on a recent Apple MacBook Pro or Air laptop? Comparing to the ones on my HP Mini Note, Dell XPS 1730 and HP 6910p, it is a whole different beast. For those, a mouse is a necessity and the trackpad is only for when you are away from a desk. On the Apple you can easily find yourself just using the trackpad even while a mouse sits idle – I do that while my ‘mighty mouse’ is right there.

    But the core issue – I see myself still mousing away in another 5 years.

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