Knowledge

There is no Post-PC era

Published on August 21, 2011 under Technology

PC Junkyard

Ever since Steve Jobs used the term "Post PC" when hyping up his iPad, I've seen many techies and journalists race around to either support or disparage the ideology. The idea that one day we won't have desktops or laptops, and our computing world will all be smartphones and tablets, and we won't even bother with hard drive space as everything will be on the cloud.

I won't dive deep into the cloud, since my slow DSL and spotty cellular data service will always make me a skeptic. I've heard many though, especially Apple fanboys, tell me how I'm living in the past when I pull out my big black Thinkpad, and even how my desire for USB support on a tablet is deemed "outdated thinking". Thus again I hear that "Post PC" term brought up.

Times have changed

smartphoneThere is some level of support to the idea of the laptop or desktop being made obsolete. How many of you run to your computer to check your email instead of pulling out a smartphone? How many Facebook comments and postings now are done outside of laptops and desktops? There is no denying that we use mobile devices to handle much of our daily computing life more than ever before. Even I lament now on when I see some sites have not built mobile counterparts

The funny thing though is I look at my iPhone and Blackberries before that not as possible replacements for my desktop and laptops, but as the replacement of having separate devices and items to handle my daily life. Remember back when we all bought organizers? Small binder books we could put in pages with calendars, to-do lists, etc? This was life before the smartphone, even before the Palm Pilot.

Then I got my first PDA. It became less paper in my life. I would use it for my calendar and address book. That bulky organizer was now condensed into a roughly 4" x 3" device. Then my first Blackberry came about, and suddenly I didn't need to have a phone and PDA. I could have it all in one. Finally with my iPhone I not only managed to upgrade the phone/calendar/contacts portion of my life, but have easier access to the Internet without a lot of the limitations I used to see. Not to mention abolishing the CD walkman, portable video game system, and even a small point-and-shoot camera.

Now I'm about to buy my first tablet, and already I can see how I won't need to have my smaller Thinkpad laptop with me in many occasions. I can watch a movie on the tablet, move files around, read books/magazines electronically, and even sit there typing a blog entry up while commuting to work on the train. Like my iPhone, the tablet will take many of the smaller/mundane tasks away from my laptops and desktop. However, I don't see this as the end of the PC, but simply the next evolution.

They are all PCs

A cup of quality coffee and an article on Ars Technica set me off this morning. They spoke of how the upcoming Windows 8 release would mainly hurt one key piece of competition – Microsoft. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the author's feeling was that a solid version of Windows on tablets would thus work to destroy the vast market share the desktop/laptop Windows OS has had.

TabletMy problem with this logic is that I look at smartphones and tablets as PCs. Some would disagree or want to lump mobile devices into a different realm, but let's just look at things from a user standpoint. Imagine you went to your receptionist and took away her laptop or desktop, replacing it with an iPad or other tablet of choice. You loaded this tablet up with apps to handle the needs of MS Office, email, internet, etc. So now she is doing all her work on this tablet as opposed to a laptop. How is that tablet then not a PC? It's just a new evolution of the personal computer.

We send/receive email. We post things on social media. We surf the net. We even now ask for USB and print support. All that's happened is the size/shape of the device used has changed. Maybe we're years from the day when I can somehow design and build websites off a tablet, but nevertheless, this new "Post PC" era has really abolished the need for physical media more than abolished the need for personal computing devices.

Stop trying to convince the world that we're heading towards a computer-free time. Even if one day we see the laptop taken away for tablets, I'll bet we'll still see many want a mouse/pointing device and a keyboard for much of the use at work.

There is no Post PC era...it's just a new evolution of the PC.

What do you think?

Tags: Apple, Microsoft, mobile, Post PC, evolution

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