4 Reasons Why We are NOT in a Post-PC Age

Is the Desktop Dead - Tablets have been Tried BeforeSales of desktop PCs and laptops are falling. It’s impossible to read any technical media without hearing about the “death of the PC.” And both Apple and Microsoft are soon to release operating systems that seek to merge the features of the computer operating system with those available on tablet devices.

All this evidence mounts up to suggest that the Steve Jobs-coined “post PC era” is upon us. Well, I’m going to stick my neck out on this: I don’t buy it.

Don’t get me wrong – I possess and adore an iPhone 4s, and if I need to quickly look something up online in the evening, I am as likely to reach for that as I am my laptop. I also think that Apple have done enough with the incredible specification of the latest iPad that I will finally give in to temptation and buy one, even though I don’t NEED one.

The ability to perform tasks via phones and tablets that would previously have required a “proper” computer is undeniable. Often these tasks can even be performed more effectively and flexibly on these devices. This, logically, accounts for the falling desktop and laptop sales figures…but “post-PC?” Don’t be daft.

Here’s why:

1. Business

Walk into any office and what will you see? Everyone working with email. Staff using office applications, bespoke databases and commonly used apps like Photoshop and InDesign. Move further into the business, and PCs and traditional servers are powering everything from car production lines to restaurant EPOS systems. Is this going to change overnight because the new iPad has a retina display and a 4G mobile connection?

2. Gaming

Phones and tablets now have power and graphical grunt to rival dedicated consoles. However, can they play Skyrim, World of Warcraft and Deus Ex? Do they have the ability to utilize the classic keys / mouse combo necessary to play the leading first person shooters? Do they even have a D-pad and A button to rival the original monochrome Gameboy. No, no and no.

3. Ergonomics

Imagine the legal fallout if offices switched from desktop PCs and made staff hunch over tablets. There’s a reason office workers use ergonomic office chairs and monitors located on desks – it stops them damaging their spines.

4. Practicality

What, really, is an iPad with an attached keyboard? It’s basically a laptop. What, really is an iPad with a BlueTooth keyboard? It’s basically a desktop with a screen that doesn’t stand up on its own. Without any ports.

Now, I am aware that my stance may seem non-progressive. The kind of thing an old-school techie may have said about the iPad when it was first released. This is not the case. If I didn’t love technology, I wouldn’t have got into the industry. Furthermore, there are wonderful ways to use the iPad right across the consumer and business sectors. Creating music and graphics in an iPad is a pleasure impossible to emulate without the tactile experience of a tablet.

However, why should everyone do everything on a touch-based device simply because it is possible? I have no doubt that over the next couple of years I am going to witness plenty of clients make poor decisions by trying to squeeze computer shaped square pegs into iPad shaped round holes – and all because they read “post PC era” somewhere and took it too seriously. We all need to calm down – the computer’s not going anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    DELL is getting out of the PC business, HP is about to dump their PC business, IBM long ago dumped their PC business…  And the only reason Microsoft is making money hand over fist is because the business industry is the slowest industry to adapt.  There is no question that PCs will be around for a long time, but if you are looking to put investment dollars somewhere… my guess is that you are going to invest in a non-PC manufacturing company.  Welcome to the post-pc age.

  • Anonymous

    There seems to be a problem with understanding what Jobs meant by post-PC. He wasn’t saying PCs were not used any longer. He was saying that innovation on the PC has slowed and even more personal computers in the form of tablets and smartphones are where most future innovation is coming from. Post PC is a transition from PCs to more personal and mobile devices.

    You talk about business using PCs. Of course that will continue long into the future. But businesses are starting to use tablets in large quantities as well. As the category develops, fewer and fewer office workers will use laptops and will instead use tablets because they are more convenient and accessible. Not everyone will be able to use a tablet but many will and most innovation is going to come from there, not PCs. And your point on servers is irrelevant. Servers are not PCs. They may use the same hardware but they are meant for a completely different purpose. No one is arguing that PC hardware will disappear.

    Gaming is already dominated by consoles, tablets and smartphones. Consoles will continue but they are not PCs and so are irrelevant to the discussion. But the PC as a gaming device has been a niche for quite a while now. It probably won’t go away completely but it will continue to be a smaller and smaller niche losing out to consoles and mobile devices.

    Ergonomics and practicality are already OK on a tablet and going to get better over time. The post PC thing is a transition. That transition has just started. Even so, I can come up with many things that are already more convenient and practical on a tablet than on a laptop. Can a tablet replace a business laptop right now, for a small number of office users it can but for most, it is at best a satellite. But over time, tablets will get better and be able to take over more and more of the tasks that office workers do. Again, this is a transition that is no where near completed.

    Post PC means “after PC”. That doesn’t imply that PCs are gone; just that they are being superseded by new devices just as mini computers superseded mainframes and the PC superseded mini computers. The mini computer is pretty much gone but mainframes are still with us. Because PCs can’t replace every function of a mainframe, does that mean the PC era wasn’t real? Were we not in a post mainframe age?

  • Others have already pointed out your semantic error in understanding what post-pc means, but here is a slightly different perspective. There is no question that iPads are disrupting the PC market. In 3 days after introduction, the new iPad sold more than 3M copies. In this quarter, it will outsell every PC made, and this will be its weakest sales quarter this year. Soon, they will outsell all PCs combined. Are PCs still being used? Of course they are — I have a Mac Pro and a MacBook, and I’m not quitting them. A better question might be are mainframes still being used. And, the answer to that is also “of course they are”, even though the PC disrupted mainframe computing more than 20 years ago.

    So, we are definitely in a post-mainframe world, and most assuredly, also in a post-PC world. The center of focus of our digital universe has changed. The PC, rather than the most pervasive computing appliance, has become a high-end niche product. If you are doing coding, or production video editing, you’ll probably continue to use a PC as your main work tool for the foreseeable future, maybe even forever. But applications for end-users and consumers are rapidly moving to the more convenient, mobile, and less expensive iPad. And, within a couple of years, this will not only be the fastest trending platform, but also the dominant computing platform.

    For some, horse and buggy is still a mode of transportation, particularly in the tourist trade and for royal weddings. But, I think we can safely say that even before there were paved roads and while horses and hitching posts were still common, the car had taken over and we were in a post-horse era. We don’t live in an all or nothing world and old things rarely completely cease to exist, but clearly, there is a new paradigm, and it is about mobile computing and a new style of interface — the PC is dead; long live the PC!

  • Anonymous

    What’s a notebook computer except a desktop PC with a built-in battery, tiny screen and limited expandability?

    What’s a PC except a mainframe with a bolted-on terminal, limited time-sharing and no place to feed punch-cards?

  • Shulang Lei

    1. Head Mount display
    2. Kinect style body IO
    3. Cloud host computation power house

    Yes, PC is about time to die. 

    • > Kinect style body IO

      LOL NO

      I for one like to sit at a computer and use a keyboard and mouse, and I’d prefer not to see people breakdancing at the coffee shop in order to open a menu and select an email.

  • I can’t type up a post or report fast on a iPad/Tablet or mobile phone.  Having said that, I’m waiting for the PC systems with Holographic Screens but w/real keyboards.  You’ll see a beam of light come out of the back of the keyboard & project your screen in the air in front of your eyes.  It still requires a physical keyboard but imagine not having to put a physical system under your desk, a widescreen monitor that takes up space.  I like to think that could happen but data such as DVD/CD’s needs to be addressed.  USB/Firewire flash drives would be easy to stick into a keyboard but the former, not so much.

  • Anonymous

    Apple has less than 6% of the market share.  PC manufacturers have the remaining 94% of the market share.   Thank you, Benny Taylor for applying logic to this mythology perpetuated by Mac owners.

    • TehBiggeztAAPPLEFANBOIEva

      Apple has 25% market share according to Canalys, if you include tablets and the iPad as PCs.

  • Dondiv

    You do know that all points are refutable? Lol. I work for a fortune 500 company implementing technology to support Post PC devices. Servers (MS 2012) is highly focused on BYOD-look at SCCM 2012-OSX and iOS support…

    Also, our user base is trading in their laptops for iPads like crazy…
    Evolution of computing…