The PC era is just beginning

The debate over whether there is a "post-PC" era underway overlooks the actual definition of the term. Taken literally, the "personal computer" era is just beginning.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Updated: Steve Jobs kicked off a lively discussion with his assertion that a "post-PC" era was beginning due to the iPad. The statement was made to strike home what I think is Jobs' belief that many iPad owners are discovering that they do not need a PC (personal computer) to do what they need as they can do it on an iPad.

This triggered lots of debates about the validity of his statement, and if in fact the post-PC era is a real thing or not. I believe the debate is really as much about the terminology as anything. If you look at the real definition of PC, a personal computing era is only beginning.

The original PC was appropriately dubbed as it was designed to free us from the tether to the big iron computers of the time. Instead of dumb terminals connected to massive computers running in an artificially cooled room, the PC was a self-contained computer that let us run whatever programs were available, without any additional hardware required.

The term PC stuck for years because we embraced this liberation from big iron. Buy a PC, take it home and do things without an IT specialist's involvement. It wasn't so much  the actual personal computer we found liberating, it was the break-away from the computer room that was appealing.

I have always stated that I believe mobile computing is the most personal of methods we have ever employed with computers, no matter their form. There is nothing more "personal" than doing stuff with a mobile gadget as held in the hand. The user has a relationship with the computer because it is held personally in the hand, with the display (no matter what size) very close to the face. This is true "personal computing", and millions have discovered the compelling nature of its use.

The "post-PC" era implies that all computers are going away, to be replaced by mobile technology in whatever form. Given the true "personal" nature of mobile technology as experienced using smartphones and tablets, I believe a PC (personal computer) era is just beginning. We need to rethink what we call a PC, as this technology is indeed very personal. It is only going to grow as many exposed to the benefits realize this type of handheld computing is all they need, and that they really like doing it this way.

The legacy "PC" will still be on many desktops for quite some time, but the true "personal computer" is going to multiply faster than any computing segment in history. Users identify with personal technology, and this is the very definition of personal as millions are discovering every day.

Image credit: Flickr user Sam Howzit

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