Merging Technologies: Desktops, Laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones
Both Apple and Google are working to merge the computer world (MAC/PC's/Desktops/Laptops) with the mobile world (Tablets/Smartphones) with iOS and Android/Chrome respectively. Over the past couple of years, the world has seen the smartphone and tablet market grow rapidly. At the heart of that growth is three simple factors - mobility, simplicity, convenience.
In terms of mobility, smartphones and tablets can be taken everywhere, and traditionally, the smaller smartphone more so than the larger tablet. However, both mobile devices are obviously more portable than a laptop - a factor which has played a large role in their success. The simplicity of clicking on an icon to check facebook or look at email has also played a huge role. In fact, one of the major factors in Apple's success of their iOS products is their ease of use. Finally, most consumers like the convenience of being able to quickly check these things and respond without having to take the time to stop, take out their laptop, and log onto a website.
Laptops/desktops differentiate from tablets/smartphones as the focus is on content creation as opposed to content consumption. Although there are some apps that let you edit pictures, work on spreadsheets, create presentations, etc. on mobile devices, most people still need the advanced software (Office, Photoshop, etc.) large screen, full keyboard, and mouse functionality.
Finally, we've seen the growth and instant success of "cloud services" through iCloud, SugarSync, Amazon, Dropbox, and others. The general concept behind the success of cloud services is content availability. Consumers want to have access to all of their documents, photos, email, music, videos, etc. available on any and all devices that they own.
The idea of "seamless syncability" of content has made it into mobile devices, and through apps like the aforementioned cloud services companies made it into computers - to a certain extent. The next logical question is "Why can't computers have both the simplistic interface that smartphones have, yet still be used for more advanced software?" The answer is "they can". I believe that Apple and Google agree, which is why they're both interested in bridging that gap.
Ultimately, we will still continue to have desktop computers and laptops, however, the software running on them will likely change in order to provide consumers the capability to download pictures, work on a spreadsheet, and check email on their home computer, then open up their mobile device and have everything look the same with the same content.
What's after that? Likely dummy devices - all with web-based operating system - that anyone can log into and immediately pull up their profile, content, and settings. Similar to what many enterprises have been using for years in "roaming profiles" where multiple employees share office computers. When they log in, their files, desktop settings, etc. all show up. Web-based operating systems could do that on a global scale.