By 2013, says Herlihy, the desktop PC will be irrelevant, and the smart phone will be the platform of choice for most Internet use.
Silicon Republic says Herlihy's audience, a "Digital Landscapes" conference at University College Dublin, was "baffled" by the statement, although many a pundit has made this prediction in recent months. Other Google executives have also posited that the company's primary focus going forward will be on mobile technologies.
It's unclear how much Google will focus on phones versus other mobile devices such as laptops and nascent tablet devices like the Apple iPad, but it's clear that in the long term, all PC-based devices are at risk of being made irrelevant by more pocket-friendly machinery.
But is three years being too aggressive? The pace of innovation is blistering in the smart phone space (remember that just three years ago there was no iPhone and no Android OS), but will the advances in the next three years be enough to make computers as we know them obsolete? It's obvious that there will still be a market for the desktop (or at least the laptop) come 2013 - the need for larger screens for corporate work will alone ensure that - but how big will that market be, and is it ultimately as doomed as the Silicon Valley bigshots would have us believe?