Apple’s co-founder launched the post-PC revolution when he launched the iPad in 2010. Jobs died just over a year later. What he got wrong about the post-PC era is obvious in retrospect. The iPad is not the revolution. The iPhone is. Yes, many of Apple’s customers can get by with an iPad vs. a Mac, and Apple is right to ask, “What’s a computer?” is a recent television commercial that highlights all the youthful benefits of iPad Pro and iOS 11, but the reality should be obvious.
We live in the post-PC era only when the definition of PC– personal computer– is confined to a Windows PC or a Mac. Otherwise, we live in the mobile device era as represented by Apple’s iconic iPhone.
Personal computers are not dying and they are not going away. Not every task can be moved from a larger PC or notebook screen to an iPad or iPhone and the mobility and convenience of the latter cannot be duplicated on the former.
Jonny Evans is correct:
The future of computing is nothing to do with underpowered beige boxes, or poorly made slates, but everything to do with access anywhere, through anything, using your choice of device.
In other words, the future of computing is understanding the need for each tool to do what it does best. Apple wrapped up a portion of the present and the future in that aforementioned TV commercial for iPad.
The ad features a young person going about their day with an iPad and Apple Pencil. The youngster gets into all sorts of situations, works on school projects, watches some video, reads a comic – all the many different things children do. With an iPad.
Are we raising a generation of computer users who don’t know what a computer is? Nobody calls an iPhone or iPad a computer, but that’s what they are. They’re powerful. They run powerful and useful applications. They are incredibly convenient and highly mobile. In many respects iPhone and iPad do far more than a Windows PC or a Mac, but the devices not called a computer. Why not? Because what it’s called doesn’t matter.
Think a little more and you’ll recognize that what’s happening here is a cultural change. That change is likely to be just as significant as the move to MP3s were on CD sales. Vinyl may be making a come-back, but CD sales have hit the ground and kept on falling. Some music loving kids have never even heard of CD, but they know about Apple Music, Spotify, or iTunes.
Some children are aghast that their parents didn’t have iPhones or iPads. If they know anything about Mac or Windows PCs at all, they know they don’t like to use one because the keyboard is inhibiting and the lack of mobility is stifling.
Future generations of computer users are growing up to be accustomed to using different things.
This is where I’ll agree to disagree with Evans as he specifies iPads vs. mobile devices, but the point is well taken.
The truth is that as the list of things devices can do grows, the reasons to use a computer are going to shrivel. As they do so, you’ll find more and more people will grow accustomed to using iPads, rather than computers.
Macs and Windows PCs are not going away, but much of what they once did has been displaced by mobile devices. Remember, Apple sells about double the number of iPads each quarter as it does Macs, and the Mac has defied the downward trend in traditional personal computer sales.
Jobs’ post-PC promise was simply misplaced. All these devices are, in a sense, personal computers but we have a new generation that doesn’t even know what a computer is. They use iPhones and iPads.