PC, post-PC... what next?

Summary:If the post-PC market goes the same way as the PC market and hits the train buffers, where does that leave the tech giants? What market avenues are left to explore?

The PC reigned supreme for decades, until it was dethroned by post-PC devices, a process catalyzed by the iPhone and then later the iPad. But there are already indications that the post-PC market has become prematurely saturated , and this could mean problems for tech giants looking to keep the dollars rolling in.

So, if the PC industry has hit the train buffers, and people already have a post-PC device in each hand, what's next?

Games consoles

I could argue that the games console was the original post-PC device. Their long war of attrition has bulldozed the high-profit-margin gaming PC into the sidelines, and now we are seeing established PC players making a beeline for this market.

AMD is particular has carved itself a lucrative market, having secured deals with all the major console players to provide silicon for the next-generation hardware . This deal will bring in millions of dollars for AMD for years to come.

As consoles undergo a metamorphosis from gaming platform to media hub, their importance, as well as their influence and power to shape the future, will increase. I expect that by the time we are ready to replace the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U that AMD will be facing stiff completion from chip giant Intel, not to mention newer players such as Nvidia, ARM, and Qualcomm.

Wearable technology

If you listen to the rumors, everyone is working on wearable devices. Spearheading the rumors is Apple with the iWatch, but there are also rumors that Microsoft is working on a wrist-mounted computer.

Then there's Google Glass, a technology that will undoubtedly lead to iGlass, Kindle Glass and a whole range of similar devices. Like a wrist-mounted computer, smart specs aren't a new idea, but as yet no one has turned these comic book devices into a mass-market product.

We might have a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other, but we have faces and wrists that are ready to be adorned with technology.

While this is certainly an exciting area, it is almost entirely unproven, with there being no demonstrable market for these types of devices.

But the biggest hurdle I see with wearable technology is that not only does it have to fit in with (or possibly replace) existing devices such as wristwatches and glasses/sunglasses, but it also needs to be fashionable. Looking at many of the consumer electronic devices out there, I'm having a hard time seeing tech companies getting to grips with fashion any time soon.

Home entertainment

TVs and other home entertainment devices are still a big business, despite established players such as Sony not being able to make the sort of money from them that they once were able to.  But what's to stop a big tech name – Apple, Microsoft, Intel – from breaking into this arena, and using its power to make the supply chain tighter and more efficient?

There's been long-term speculation from analysts and pundits that Apple is secretly working on a TV, but as yet nothing concrete has come out of Cupertino. Similarly, 'smart' TV from the likes of Google have fallen flat of their faces.

While there's no doubt that the living room is a space that the big tech names would like to get a better foothold in – games consoles only appeal to certain market segments – it's also tricky in that it is well-established and the upgrade cycle is much shorter than what tech companies are used to. While people keep a smartphone or tablet for between one to three years, TVs and stereo systems can have a live space of five to ten years, or more.

Services

Web-based services have changed pretty much every aspect of out lives, from how we communicate, buy stuff, find directions, collaborate of document, back up out data, and lots more.

There's hardly an aspect of out daily lives that hasn't been affected by this shift, and there's money out there for companies who can capture eyeballs.

Companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google have, over the years, built a whole range of online services, and leveraging their respective operating systems to bring new users to these services, and hopefully lock them into using them for the foreseeable future.

Cars

With cars transitioning from gasoline to electric, and with dashboards looking more like cockpits, there are certainly gaps in the market for tech companies to make an entry.

That said, car makers have decades of experience, know-how, and patents (the automotive industry ranks third in patent generation, behind telecommunications and tech), and so they are unlikely to just hand over this market to tech companies.

I think what's more likely with cars is that we will see tech firms form allegiances with car makers to get their tech – more than likely proprietary tech – into automobiles. We're seeing the beginning of this with the likes of Apple, and I'd expect other firms will try to follow suit.

Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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