Is the Computer Mouse Destined for Extinction?

The first consumer computer equipped with a computer mouse became available 29 years ago today. And while three decades is a good run for any technology, advances in gesture and touch technology have challenged the mouse’s dominance as the primary device for graphical interface. Although they disagree on the rate and scale of the transition, experts agree that the mouse’s days of ubiquity are numbered.

More recently, other tools have also threatened the mouse’s preeminence. The multitouch technology used in the screens of Apple’s iPhones and iPads has shown that users only need a finger to point and click. And professionals who need specialized tools for their work have already moved on from mice to other devices, such as artists and designers who create drawings using Wacom’s Cintiq tablet and stylus.

“I’ll give it another decade,” Saffer said. “The mouse is definitely in decline, if not ending. It’s already on the endangered species list.”

While no one disputes the eventual decline in mouse use, not everyone thinks the mouse will disappear quite so completely. Alternative input devices may replace the mouse in some contexts, but the mouse still performs better in many situations than gesture and touch inputs, said Bill Buxton, a researcher at Microsoft and input specialist.

In Buxton’s view, every device is the best-suited tool for some tasks and the worst-suited tool for others. He believes the mouse will become less widely used, but will not go extinct.

“I think it’s safe to say that the mouse is never going away. Multitouch won’t replace the mouse any more than television replaced cinema,” Buxton said.

For ease in switching between a keyboard and a pointing device, the mouse still reigns uncontested, Buxton said. But for other tasks currently accomplished with a mouse, users should expect an ecosystem of new devices as diverse as the tasks a computer can perform.


  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: