mobile desktop legal researchRaymond Blijd (@legalcomplex), Project Manager Online Innovation of Wolters Kluwer, makes a compelling case that we are witnessing the death of legal research on desktop in his post today.

While Health and especially Finance went full throttle in mobile, driven respectively by pure need and speed, other business markets have been slower to adopt. Yet, this anxious stance does not reflect reality: PC shipments will only be 20.6% of the total market of smart connected devices. Tablets are forecast to overtake PC sales entirely this Christmas. By 2017,total traditional PC devices are expected to drop to 13%, while tablets and smartphones will contribute 16.5% and 70.5% respectively to the overall market. Those that cling towards a PC oriented design strategy will face extinction just as the operating system and software needed to run it.

No question there’s an undercurrent of lawyers who believe it’ll never happen.

I hear them…these voices all around me…whispering: they will never do legal research on a smartphone, the screen is too small! How can lawyers or any knowledge professional do research on a mobile device? These voices weren’t whispers 2 years ago, they were loud and clear and drove me to write about it. Mobile consumes and desktop creates, no if and’s or buts. Now several events hopefully will exorcise these faint yet persistent notions and help us embrace our enlightened reality.

These events include the inevitable phasing out of desktops as the principal way we’ll be connected to the net. Research, after all, mandates being online. Mobile versus desktop legal research Add to this that mobile apps are arguably better and more innovative than many desktop applications. Innovative engineers want to work for companies developing applications for mobile more than for desktop applications. Companies developing applications, knowing where the world is going, are going to put their money on mobile apps over desktop apps.

Wolters Kluwer, per Blijd, is rethinking and redesigning research for any screen size and in all environments. I blogged a couple months ago that Wolters Kluwer migrated 32 medical publications to iPad and asked why not legal publications.

Of course there will be arguments that lawyers are different. I heard that when I suggested lawyers could travel with an iPad in place of their laptop toady. Blijd isn’t buying it.

Legal professionals spend between 40-50 hours on computers. Yet, they spend only 15 hours (30%) on research. Now here’s my question: if 70% on computers is not spent on research, than what are they doing? I presume emailing, drafting, scheduling or reading the news? I haven’t gotten my hands on studies to confirm this. But if so, do you really need a desktop for those “non research” activities?

Keyboards and monitor size are not an issue. They’re merely tools which can be plugged into a mobile device as needed for personal convenience.

It’s that computer in your palm or pocket that’s driving things. That computer that is infinitely more powerful than that computer we used in a law office 2o years ago. A computer that wasn’t even hooked up to something called the Internet.

Mobile is no doubt coming and will eclipse a desktop, not only for legal research, but also for practice management, writing, billing, and business development (blogging and social media included).

In three or four years we may not even use the terms, desktop or mobile. It’ll be a computer – or a tablet – or a smartphone – or maybe just a tool.

Image courtesy of Flickr by CALI.