decades of fun

Replacement Theory


I’ve never been clear on the difference in “replace” and “displace”, I just know that tablets are the future and people who degrade them as faddish or toys are in denial. I type this before hitting the dictionary to see….

When a light bulb burns out, you replace it, meaning that you substitute something new or functioning for what is lost, destroyed, or worn out.

If something that is obsolete or ineffective is replaced by something that is superior, more up-to-date, or more authoritative, the correct verb is supersede (: the computer superseded the electric typewriter).

In contrast, displace suggests that someone or something has been ousted or dislodged forcibly, without necessarily implying that it was inferior or ineffective (: a growing number of workers were being displaced by machines).

Supplant is more restricted in meaning; it suggests displacement by force, fraud, or innovation (: the democratic government had been supplanted by a power-hungry tyrant). It can also mean to uproot or wipe out (: the English immigrants gradually supplanted the island’s native inhabitants).

Thanks, dictionary! So are tablets replacing non-tablets? Yes – at least on a personal level. I know several folks with cheap plastic windows laptops used for web, social, email, and youtube, that have recently gotten an iPad and may never buy a windows laptop again. They never needed anything more than that and their craptop is soon relegated to 2nd place on it’s way to the dustbin.

Are tablets superseding non-tablets? If you need to walk around for your job then of course they are — a tablet lets you do things no laptop or desktop could ever come close to. Ask UPS, they have had specialized tablets as their primary worker device for a decade. Nothing is as portable and immediate for information sharing and manipulation as a tablet. Industries whose workers don’t sit in cubicles such as education, manufacturing, sales, medical, retail, construction, law enforcement, etc. are moving their vertical apps and workflows to tablets as quickly as possible.

So are tablets displacing non-tablets also? Yes and this is actually the spark behind this post. The displacement is happening and it’s making people passionate because there is nothing inherently wrong with their macs and pc’s. Their laptop is their trusted companion. Their desktop is their family archive and protector. I know, I love my Macbook and hate getting rid of a tower, even these days.



Cluttered desks full of hard drives, cables, and dust form around these machines and become our information home, our digital cocoon. Some article online about an tablet replacing a non-tablet literally threatens the existence of your cocoon. The tablet destroys the cocoon because it doesn’t need it and will happily travel with you to wherever you choose to go (above water!).

If you live on a tablet and in the cloud you are a digital gypsy, free to roam the planet, or at least your workplace. This is scary to many, perhaps because it is a threat to their way of life. People’s motivations and fears are beyond the scope of this post ;-/

And I think we hit for the cycle because tablets are also supplanting non-tablets. I’ve heard Apple being blamed for using force, fraud, and innovation, sometimes all three in one rant! The traditional PC model is being uprooted but it’s too early to know if it’s wiped out.

Bottom line, don’t fear the future. And you shouldn’t be surprised – a touch tablet has been predicted as our primary computing device for what, 45 years now? I personally make a living sitting on a powerful computer all day developing software. I might be one of the few people in the future that needs more than a general mobile device. But already, the fastest growing userbase for our software is touch tablets.