PC, post-PC... what next?

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?

TOPICS: Hardware

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.


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.


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.

Topic: Hardware

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  • I have the answer

    PC => POST PC => PC all over again, but in new form factors.
    • Re: POST PC => PC all over again, but in new form factors.

      None of the new form factors run Microsoft Windows.
      • not true

        Windows phone is actually doing better than iPhone at the moment. So...
        • Re: Windows phone is actually doing better than iPhone at the moment


          *wipes tears from eyes*
    • Ofcourse

      It will make full circle. Just liek the netbook thing died.. It just happens. People want real machines to do real work. The tablet fad is upon us, but eventually people get upset trying to fight with their shitty devices to do things they could do easily on their laptops... For some things tablets will still be used, for most things they will not be used.
  • Post-P.C. is non-sense.

    Let me give you an example:

    Apple came out with the iPhone, this instantly made all smartphones obsolete, no-one wants a device with a QWERTY-Keyboard anymore, let's all buy post-smartphone phones, as the L.G. Prada and the iPhone, hmmm.

    When the iPhone came out people said that it wasn't a smartphone and devices as the BlackBerry, or Samsung's Windows Mobile were, the term Post-P.C. is as non-sensical and saying that EVERY phone with a touch-screen instead of a QWERTY-Keyboard is a post-smartphone device.
    Taizong Yuan
    • Well

      Thats not true, alot of people Love QWERTY and miss it. Just nobody has made an awesome QWERTY phone yet...
      • Sure they did

        It was called the T-Mobile G1.
  • post-PC

    There is no such thing - no matter how much journos write about it and use this phrase it aint happening any time soon.. Sure PC sales have slowed - thats because the hardware advances a couple of years back mean the hardware now outstrips the software so people arent seeing the need to keep upgrading PC's. Similarly tablet sales are on the increase because they are a relative newcomer and prices are now falling. That doesnt add up to tablets replacing PC's, people (and businesses) are just buying tablets to complement their PC's.
    The Central Scrutinizer
    • Re: post-PC

      You're right, TCS.
      I have both the iPhone and iPad devices but neither fully replaces my PC.
    • Re: Sure PC sales have slowed

      Enough that top PC vendors like Dell and HP are looking to abandon the PC business altogether.

      This is no mere minor slowdown; this is a sea change.
    • This is what I have been saying

      I have a tablet (actually 2) and a smart phone and a laptop. And I built a desktop and brought it into work, because desktops are just better for business. And everyone needs to do business... Not only that Laptops are PC's aswell... So It doesn't really matter which. And Desktop PC's are still very useful and used more than journalists let on. Its just as you said, hardware is so fast that people don't need to buy new computers all the time. Thats where AMD is coming in with its APU's, its why they have been so successful. Becuase they make computers that normally wouldn't have any graphical power and give them the ability to do everything (even gaming). Yes its true that they don't have the fastest CPU's ever but that no longer matters. Even bargin bin CPU's arent really "slow" like they used to be. Everything has plenty of power to run basically everything...
  • Existing Giants Become Dinosaurs, New Upstarts Become The Next Giants

    Microsoft, one of the giants of the PC era, becomes a lumbering, declining dinosaur in the post-PC era, outmanoeuvred by new giants like Google.

    So Google in its turn will become a dinosaur in the post-post-PC (post-Android?) era, outmanoeuvred by some new giant that has probably already been born today, but is still an unknown startup.

    One thing is for sure: future platforms will have to be Open Source. Linux and Android have proven how much faster they can adapt to changing market conditions than any proprietary platform; the proprietary era is over.
    • Depends

      On who manages the propriatary code. Linux is built by commercial firms all around the world. The large corps generally contribute alot more to Linux than the little people do.
  • More failed attempts by ZDNET bloggers to redefine English and reality?

  • Blame the software, not the hardware

    The PC will not fade away, it might change forms. Do people make games on smartphones, on tablets? No, they use PC's. Software isn't pushing the hardware, like it did in the old days. The last time I needed new hardware, was when the game Crysis came out, as well as Adobe's CS Master Collection. Since those days, it's not pushing the boundaries of hardware. In fact it is retrograding. In the not too distant future, I might be able to unbox that old 386 with OS/2 and have it run perfectly normal.