During the introduction of the iPad2(March 2, 2011) various people from Apple used the phrase “post-PC.” I first interpreted this as a continuation of their Mac vs. PC commercials, differentiating their products from PC’s. After a few days of thought it hit me that understanding this idea is much more significant than the launch of the new iPad. It represents a fundamental shift in the concept of personal computers. We are right in the middle of a major transition of how we define and interact with “computers.”
Steve Jobs described it this way: (iPad2 launch, March 2, 2011)
"It's in Apple's DNA that technology is not enough... Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive.”
However you feel about Apple Inc., its products, or its business practices, it is clear that they are leading this transition into future. As Steve describes above, they “get it.” The success of the iPhone & iPad clearly show that the people like this new approach. Even during the worst recession in decades people are willing to stand in line and lay out a lot of money for this new definition of computing. Hardware & software companies that don’t understand this will be left along the roadside. Some are already there.
The components of this transition have been coming together for the last few years:
Faster, cheaper processors
Larger, cheaper flash memory
Better battery technology
Improved quality of LCD & LED displays
Faster internet, 3G/4G, and expansion of WiFi hotspots
Cloud data centers
Downloading content via internet instead of hard copy CD’s, DVD’s, etc.
Touch screen interactivity
Apple united all of the above with a software philosophy that truly puts the user first. This is why these new products are so popular. The fact that my colleague’s 4 year old son can pick up the devise and navigate to his favorite cartoon movies is a testament to the “intuitive” design.
My predictions for the future of consumer level computing:
The desktop computer as we know it is gone. There will be a combination of cloud based accounts and a centralized home hub. This hub includes: file storage; backup; internet connection; and printing connection. A variety of ‘personal’ device then branch off this central hub. While at home these devices are connected to the hub. Out in the world they connect to this hub & their cloud account. As is already happening, the TV becomes just another output device for viewing all of the variations of content: broadcast shows; personal videos & photos; music; games; office information like email; etc.
The mobile devices will become the standard ‘remote’ interface for technology all around the house: heat/AC; microwave/oven; refrigerator; washer/dryer; home security & automation; ceiling fans; lights; garage doors.
A couple of bloggers have commented on Apple’s use of the “post-PC” phrase. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more buzz about it. I see it as a fundamental shift in computing. There’s a quote by Wayne Gretzky:
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
I see the computing industry in much the same way. They keep focusing on where we are now, where Apple has their sights on where we are going to be.