Is the "post-PC era" we keep hearing about real or just a marketing slogan to sell tablets and smartphones?
I would argue that at work, PCs still matter most. This depends on what kind of work you do, but by and large, to do our jobs most of us still need an attached physical keyboard, a bigger screen than 10 inches, rich Web browsing and a full client operating system.
However, as much as I need my PC for work, as a personal machine the PC is losing its luster, even as super thin and light ultrabooks hit the market (so far with a thud).
Lately, my three-year-old personal laptop has been gathering dust on the coffee table more than usual. That's because the tasks I tended to use a laptop for (Web browsing, email, paying bills, watching videos, listening to music) are now doable on a tablet or even a smartphone. These devices have an immediacy that a laptop lacks; just tap and start your browsing on a light-as-a-feather device with way better battery life than any laptop.
More and more, mobile devices are making laptops feel like household appliances. They are useful and maybe even necessary, but having the latest and greatest is not that important anymore because all the innovative application development has shifted to mobile devices. It's clear that the days of the PC being the only machine you use to consume information and get work done are numbered. The larger question is: Will the PC be pushed out of the equation completely?
You know it's getting ugly when an exec from chipmaker Intel is practically begging PC makers to step up and do something to save the PC, as the company's CTO did this week.
The serious problem facing Microsoft and its PC-maker partners is not that we aren't using PCs, it's that we have been much slower to replace them since smart mobile devices have entered our lives. Microsoft is betting the farm that Windows 8 can revitalize interest in laptops and ultrabooks but that might be mission impossible given how developer interest and the market in general is migrating to mobile.
Microsoft has been touting that Windows 8 will allow touch-screen capability on the PC. Is there a pent-up need among PC users to touch navigate on laptops? Not that I know of, but it wouldn't hurt to have the option. What PCs need even more though is to be lighter, have better battery life and be able to boot up in seconds. And in defense of Microsoft, Intel and PC-makers, there is a concerted effort to bring all these features to upcoming Windows 8 ultrabooks and ultrabook/tablet hybrids. And Microsoft's own branded Surface tablet, with its thin plastic screen cover that doubles as a keyboard, could be bring worlds together if consumers warm to the tricky Windows 8 UI.
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