Opinion

Post-PC or PC Plus? The result is still the same

Are we in a post-PC age or a PC plus age? Lots of people have been saying the golden age of the PC is over, a perception reinforced by HP's abrupt decision to get out of the PC business as soon as it can. When the biggest PC maker in the world tells the world it no longer wants to be a PC maker, people sit up and pay attention!

But Microsoft corporate vice president for corporate communications, Frank X. Shaw, isn't convinced. He believes the PC is entering a "PC plus" age and argues in a posting on Microsoft's official blog that while the digerati might think it's fun to pronounce things dead, "we think it's more accurate to say that the 30-year-old PC isn't even middle aged yet, and about to take up snowboarding".

Why does he think this? Because although non-PC objects such as smartphones and tablets "do a great job at enabling people to communicate and consume in innovative and interesting ways", he argues that they are not as good as PCs at creating and collaborating.

"And that's why one should take any reports of the death of the PC with a rather large grain of salt," Shaw states. "Because creating and collaborating are two of the most basic human drives, and are central to the idea of the PC."

Maybe, but there are a lot of things in that creating and collaborating space that people currently use PCs for which they can do with smartphones or tablets instead. Shaw's argument seeks to counter the assertion by Apple CEO Steve Jobs last year that PCs would change from being like cars which nearly everyone uses to becoming more like trucks which are only used by a select number of people.

Funnily enough, both of them could be right because Jobs' argument can also fit with Shaw's if the latter's definition of "PC plus" is wide enough to accommodate a future where PCs continue to exist but in smaller numbers.




This was first published in August 2011

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