Hail to the New Boss, same as the Old Boss.
The era of the PC as a box with another box with a glass bit and a keyboard and a mouse is indeed beginning to drift away. But its not drifting towards touchscreens and iDicks. Its moving towards nothing more or less than a smaller version of the exact same functionality.
I have a Nokia E7, which runs a quick processor, a powerful OS (which still has more functions and more security than iOS (iDiot On Slab) and Android put together, but I digress). Its got a Touchscreen and a physical keyboard. I have tried both the touch keyboard and the physical one, no prizes on which I can type much faster and its not the Apple Special.
But the kicker with this phone and a very few others - you can attach USB mice, keyboards, CD-Roms, Hard drives, Memory sticks and the like, it'll even talk to a hub with multiple devices. The ENTIRE device is about one twelfth the size of my Netbook, and it can do exactly the same thing, and fit in my pocket. Not to mention carry amazing amounts of information, and last almost 2 days on battery with judicious use.
Now its true that I dont do development work, I dont have a fetish for splattering people in high definition, im not particularly interested in PCB design - because I am not a developer, nor a gamer, nor have any reason to know the ins and outs of 5 layer PCB mothering. But I do write books and I do write essays and I do write reviews, and for that, fondleslabs and iPhones just dont cut it. The less said about the 'cloud' the better. I have this weird thing, my ideas and my work is MINE. I cant guarantee its safety on 'the cloud' therefore it will not be going on there. End of.
There is no way at this point in time that a touch keyboard will be comparable to a physical keyboard, it just cant.
If you spent your life opening up PC's like I did for a long time, you will notice all that wasted space (not to mention the dead mice/rats/species new to science, or the impossible to refit case covers). All that is being done now is to take the space out of the equation. Where once you needed an ISA/EISA etc card, now you can do it with PCMCIA (or whatever they're calling it this week) or SD or something else suitably small.
So what is the point with the huge lardy case - there isnt one - except in the few specific places where the job (high throughput high storage situations for example) and even then you can, with suitable money and a little work, find a machine that is both small and strong enough to handle it.
The original PC three box approach (system, screen, keyboard) is rapidly becoming as relevant today as a 1920s Morris. Yes it does the job, but inflexibly, with poor use of space. hence you get the all-in-one machines. Same processor, same power, a quarter of the space.
The point here I think has been missed in spectacular fashion.
The PC as regards what it actually is is in no danger of dying off, Core i7s and motherboards and all the rest of the palaver will not suddenly disappear like an embarrassed Tyrannosaur who didnt get the thing about the asteroid because he doesnt use Twitter... That power and that system and that paradigm is alive and well and will be for a long time.
The thing we are going to lose, and not before time, is the mindset that a business PC has to be something huge cumbersome and mostly just hot air (sorta like a Conservative party political broadcast). To ride the dinosaur analogy until it falls apart - we are leaving the age of the dinosaurs, and entering the age of the little early mammals, same function, same niches, just 100 times smaller, lighter and more efficient (and yes I know the comparison on the last one is a little tenuous).
And my poor aching back will be forever thankful...