Friday, May 11, 2012

Are we post PC?

By:  M.K., Senior Software Engineer @ G2

Apple made a big deal about the "post-PC" world with the new iPad announcement.  My question to G2 is what does "post-PC" mean to you and are we entering the "post-PC" world with the current/immediately upcoming generation of phone and tablet devices (iOS 5.1, Android 2.3/4.0, Windows 8)?
To me the term "post-PC" means a time when full blown desktop/laptops are relegated to special purpose and hobbyist/enthusiast endeavors.  The needs of 80% of an average home or business users can be met by a mobile device.  I know there are some arguments that phones/tablets are also PCs, but I am choosing to ignore those, and am using the term "PC" to refer to a combination of  mindset, behavior, and interations that encompasses multitasking, potentially limited connectivity, and a need for local resources (memory, space, processor).
Based on that definition I think we are getting close to a "post PC" era, but aren't quite there yet.  I think the biggest inhibitors right now are UI and connectivity.  UX designers are still trying to work out some of the interactions and standards for the interfaces, and until those are fully worked out some tasks are just better on traditional PCs.  The other roadblock is connectivity, I can't get reliable high speed access to all of the resources online that I would need to totally abandon a pc with local storage and the abilitiy to do almost any task I want with or without connectivity.
The other things I use a PC for, primarily software development and gaming, would fall into the "special purpose/enthusiast" category.  It's possible that once someone comes up with the right interface that gaming,for me, could move onto the tablet. I already work around some of the development issues using code editors on  the iPad, LogMeIn, and Dropbox so that I can develop on the iPad in an emergency but it is not a very productive way to work.

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