During the iPad 2 launch Steve Jobs announced the post-PC era and subtly gave the press their next keyword. Who are the meager mortals to not fall into His RDF? One of the arguments is (and still remains) we still need the PC for the iPad. Gartenberg today countering the argument wrote an article and here’s a quote from his piece:
as PCs have become increasingly sophisticated, they’ve also become increasingly complex. Users become empowered by new features while simultaneously being forced to contend with complex systems that can obscure the task currently at hand.
This is one reason why devices like the iPad have become popular. No, they can’t do everything a PC can do today—but that’s not a bad thing. The iPad performs some tasks quite well, all while keeping those tasks simple—and that means an iPad can replace that second or third PC someone was thinking of buying.
Reading through his article I felt his definition of a PC is the functionality and not the form factor. Traditional PCs consist of a CPU cabinet, a monitor and input devices that allow users to access all functionalities unlike the iPad that offers a subset (Gartenberg’s words, not mine).
I believe the backdrop of the thought and article is Adobe’s announcement where the iPad is used as an addon to the PC than a photo editing tool by itself, which again points to functionality and not form factor. A dual screen setup with one being touch and running the same Adobe app is no different from the iPad+Mac.
Let’s back a few years when people used to buy PCs and use them for email, multimedia and light work. Ever since the iPad came out everyone claims that the iPad does all of this, essentially tasks that the PC does but in a smaller form factor with a touch friendly UI. I don’t see how a device that does what the PC does become a post-PC device.
Coming to the point where he talks about subset of functionalities, how does this fit into the console vs PC argument? Consoles offer a subset of the PC functionality. The console is definitely not part of the post-PC era, the Kinect does make it but the Kinect+Xbox still do what the PC does with a different interaction experience.
Gartenberg’s entire essay does not define what he means by post-PC. Is it in terms of device functionality or lesser peripherals? The PC is evolving. The personal computer still crunches 1s and 0s. What we see and how we interact is changing much like the monochrome to color, 8 bit displays to gazillion bits, keyboards, mice, touch pads, stylus. These are not post-PC in any sense, these are evolutions of the PC.
Let’s snap out of Steve Jobs’ RDF.