One of the most interesting things to have come out of the iPad launch yesterday was this notion of the ‘post-PC era.’ Tim Cook used the phrase close to the beginning of his presentation and went on to refer to it a number of times.
While I’m sure many people (especially Microsoft and all those with a vested interest in the PC industry) will feel that this term overstates the case, Cook backed up his claim with some impressive numbers and I think it’s difficult not to agree with him.
In 2011 Apple sold over 172m of what Cook called ‘post-PC devices’ which basically means anything running iOS. Even more impressive, the company sold 15.4m iPads in Q4 alone beating every one of the major PC vendors in terms of units shipped with HP coming closest with 15.1m.
Cook rounded off his pitch by saying –“Apple has its feet firmly planted in the Post-PC future.”
This year it’s pretty much a certainty that the iPad will outpace PC shipments by an even greater margin. Then you add on the other tablets, and the exploding smartphone market, and you can see there is clearly a profound shift happening and the PC is becoming less and less relevant to the world of computing and the internet.
However, I don’t think we should be calling time on the PC just yet. Although sales are a pretty good indicator of where the market is going, I think that mobile devices have shorter lifespans and are almost always bought in addition to, as opposed to instead of, a PC. Moreover, there is still so much that you still need a PC for. But perhaps the most important point is that there are just too many businesses with too much invested in the PC and everything that surrounds it to let it go any time soon.
So the PC is clearly being demoted and is losing its place as our digital hub – that role belongs to the Cloud now. But I don’t think that the PC will be killed off completely. It’s becoming ‘just another device’ in a more mobile, multi-device world with the Cloud at the center.
What I also find interesting in all this is how the consumer is now taking the lead in terms of new technology adoption. Only a few years it was at the office where all the latest technology resided, usually in the form of a PC sat on our desk. But now we all have an amazing array of devices to choose from which are more affordable, easy to use and always connected to the internet. I think this is empowering the consumer and is making technology and the internet much less exclusive than ever before – and that has to be a good thing.
At the same time it will be interesting to see businesses try to catch up and reconcile their huge investments in old systems and outdated client/server models with the new consumer-led world of mobile devices.