The Mouse Will Be Dead by 2019

by Albert Wan Jan 11, 2010

Hear it from Apple Matters first. By the end of this decade, the mouse will go the way of the floppy disk and VHS tapes.

This was most evident at CES 2010 in Las Vegas, where large tech companies revealed 3D movies and gaming technologies to dazzle—Intel's i7 or Nvidia/ATI's newest graphics cards were impressive—but by far the most pervasive evidence of a mouse killer was the multi-touch screens that seemed to be everywhere. 3M had something similar to BumpTop and Microsoft Surface, Microsoft had its plethora of touchscreen games and music (and a slick new ringtone), and Sony released a range of new touch screen cameras. Cell phone companies demoed touch screens on their iPhone inspired phones. Multitouch has invaded personal computing.

With the new Magic Mouse released several months ago, Apple, alongside all the other tech companies, are transitioning consumers and the industry from current input standards to the new touchscreen frontier. However, as evident by the floppy disk and the optical drives, touch screen computing will become standard on Apple computers within the next several years, and Apple will pretty much dictate the world's transition into the touch screen era. The new Apple tablet, if it exists at all, will only be the beginning of a new wave of computers.

What does this bring to the industry? A revolutionary way of controlling and inputting information. Imagine if a movie editor could literally clip and drag movies around while producing the next Hollywood hit with a projector-like device, or if a photo editor could literally touch the eyes of a person on the image for red-eye reduction or color balance adjustment. Gaming interfaces would be completely remastered and changed as the center of control has shifted from the mouse to the screen itself. The future would become more like the 2002 film "The Minority Report."

As we begin to touch our pictures, files, and movies, the conventional mouse will slowly die off, and we will soon see it as we see the floppy disk today: an ancient method of our computing habits.


  • 2019?  I was thinking 26th January.

    Paul Howland had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 38
  • Doubtful.  Will the mouse change?  Almost certainly, but human interface devices, similar to the mouse will remain for a very long time - at least for workstations.

    No one wants to sit at a workstation and drag a greasy finger across their work.  Nor do they want to reach across their keyboard to a vertical surface to constantly manipulate their machine.  The paradigm just doesn’t work on a vertical surface from a seated position. 

    Sure, it makes sense for slate-type devices, smart phones, etc, but not for workstations.  Your “movie editor” scenario is a prime example.  Someone editing film is not going to want a smudged up display (even if it is oleophobic, it will still leave marks) to view their work.  Nor will they want to edit standing in front of a wall, ala Minority Report.  For those purposes, the desktop (or even laptop) remains supreme.  And until Human beings morph develop telekinesis, we’re going to need something like a mouse to manipulate the GUI paradigm.

    cwa107 had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 15
  • think of 2019, cwa107!

    lay down the screen to make it a table surface or a drawing board, imagine new glass coating that dramatically decreases smudge.. of course there are technological problems, I can give you more food: imagine how can you use Photoshop with multitouch screen - fingers are not precise, and there are plenty of various tools to use in Photoshop - I’m not sure how would that work with fingers? I guess the world may be splitting: more office/public user type of functionality would go tablet and surfaces, and artistic computers would be still equipped either with styluses or something else…

    y3k had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 7
  • You may be right, it is 2019 we’re talking about afterall.  But if you asked someone in 1960 what we’d be driving in 2019, they’d probably tell you a flying car.  And if you asked them what we’d be watching movies on, they’d probably tell you a wrist-watch TV.

    If you think about it, we’ve made significant strides toward both - what with cars that park themselves (and to an extent, drive them selves with cruise control and radar-sensitive braking) and Personal Media Players, it’s still a variation on the same theme as what existed in 1960, only refined and miniaturized.

    cwa107 had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 15
  • Oops, meant to say 2009 in that example, not 2019 :D

    cwa107 had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 15
  • I can’t agree with “only refined and miniaturized”. The way we live is changing. Think of a cell phone. How could people live without it in 1960? Flying planes has become a routine, sometimes just like taking bus or train. iPhone has mixed computer and telephone and defined new level of mobile computing. Imagine what would it take to clarify a term or get some info on a subject back in 1960? Not like right now: just reach your iPhone and google it. Skype! I am getting already nervous when I don’t see the person on the other side! Remember dreams of video-phone? Coming soon, just wait a little bit! Teleportation: have you read about an experiment made by Australian scientists? It’s pretty long way ahead for them to get people teleported, but in principle, those guys have done that!

    It is all changing dramatically, we are just not noticing!

    y3k had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 7
  • I tend to agree with Albert—but full disclosure, BumpTop is my client. They are hard at work on BumpTop for the Mac (and still taking Beta users I believe), for what it’s worth.  But the point I wanted to bring up is that the physX engine underneath BumpTop and other GUIs lends itself beautifully to Photoshop-type work—and I don’t think I’ve ever even heard smudges come up in discussion.  The most recent release of BumpTop ( included amazingly simple photo editing and cropping gestures, and the BumpTop community votes up new features all the time. 
    BT founder Anand Agarwala has pointed out that touch is incredibly intuitive and ripe for innovation on the desktop and beyond; I think Albert’s on to something.

    Merredith had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 1
  • Think about where the world was in 2000. We had no idea Wi-Fi, Facebook, portable media, and now “cloud computing” would become such a large part of our everyday lives. Smartphones were almost unheard of at the time. A large majority of us were still using floppy disks.

    The idea that the mouse would be obsolete by the end of this decade is entirely possible.

    cwa107, while there are certainly problems that have to be addressed like you said, I am banking on the idea that new technologies and products will be introduced in the upcoming years that will either eliminate or have people overlook these problems.

    Merredith, BumpTop was amazing on my Windows partition, but it’s still not usable yet for me on my Mac. I’m still staying on the traditional dock until more features are made.

    Albert Wan had this to say on Jan 11, 2010 Posts: 4
  • I think something along the lines of MS Surface is the way of the future.  Horizontal screen, not vertical, that’s part of the paradigm shift to the future of touch screen GUI.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 12, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • I’m not ready to trade my mouse in just yet. How do the ergonomics compare? How well will it work for FPS gaming? Can I rest my forefinger on the surface without clicking? How about the scroll wheel? Part of knowing where that is (for me) is by feel. Tactile feedback?

    What are the REAL advantages of this over a mouse for general purpose use? Is it cheaper? Easier to use? More ergonomic? More responsive? More predictable response? Exactly what problem is it trying to solve that the mouse does not? To replace the mouse it must be more convenient, cheaper, or both. It can’t be less convenient and can’t be much more expensive. It must be at least as reliable, but greater reliability won’t be enough to sell it by itself. If it’s less responsive you’ll lose the gaming crowd, a lot of them won’t even use wireless mice. (So the pickup interpretation had better be damned fast.) Same with precision; more won’t help much, less will hurt.

    Jeffrey Nonken had this to say on Jan 12, 2010 Posts: 2
  • ok it’s 2019, just in 10 years, ok? I’m also not going to give up my Magic Mouse I’ve just bought… smile))

    I can tell you what is the advantage of Magic over Mighty - easy! The scroll ball doesn’t get stuck anymore!

    y3k had this to say on Jan 12, 2010 Posts: 7
  • Agreed.  It does seem like an answer in search of a question.  But maybe things will be different in 2019 and I’m just not forward-thinking enough to realize it.

    Anyway, great topic and thought-provoking comments.

    cwa107 had this to say on Jan 12, 2010 Posts: 15
  • My mother (74) needed about a day to get used to mouse movements. I thought, mouse is not that intuitive I was always considering it. We’re moving computers more and more towards non-computer people, people that can’t use programming languages, standard interfaces, don’t know the keyboard. Human interfaces will definitely evolve and let people control computers by voice and some ultimately intuitive natural body gestures. I remember when the first graphical interface builders appeared - I was upset then. Now every idiot could build nice looking programs! smile I also remember when some more senior IT specialist told me he believes computers will be soon equipped with 256MB-512MB of RAM (that was year 1996, I was looking at him with eyes wide open and thought he’s a lunatic). smile

    y3k had this to say on Jan 12, 2010 Posts: 7
  • No it won’t.

    tundraboy had this to say on Jan 17, 2010 Posts: 132
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment