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  • "It's Uncomfortable:" Jobs on the "Post-PC Era"


    Michael reported earlier on Steve Jobs's talk Tuesday evening with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the Wall Street Journal's D8 Conference and the wide range of topics that they covered. One comment, made almost in passing, has prompted a fair amount of discussion: Jobs's statement that we are entering the "post-PC era." He's not the first person to warn about the death of the personal computer, of course: the PC's demise has been predicted for pretty much as long as there have been PCs. But now, with the iPad whipping off store shelves at the rate of a million per month (faster than the iPhone sold after its release), Apple may have more right than any manufacturer to brag about moving us past the personal computer. It's a separate question whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

    Mossberg had asked Jobs at the conference whether he thought the tablet would succeed the laptop. Jobs asserted that it would, saying that "the PC has taken us a long ways, and "the PC is brilliant" but that "we like to talk about the post-PC era." Jobs allowed, however, that "the transformation of PC to new form factors like the tablet is going to make some people uneasy... it's uncomfortable," he said. The closed nature of the iPhone OS has led many - such as Adobe's Kevin Lynch - to complain about the "walled garden" Apple has created, with its many restrictions when compared to general purpose PCs.

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started selling one of the very first personal computers worth the name back in 1976. The 1.023 MHz Apple I with 4 kb RAM was little more than a bare motherboard: you had to add input (a keyboard), output (a TV), storage (a cassette tape recorder) and program it in BASIC. Computers have, of course, gotten many orders of magnitude more powerful, and simple enough to use that everyone from young kids to old folks can do basic things like email and Web browsing. But computers do still require at least a modicum of technical know-how to live with: everyone who reads this site has probably had the experience of having to help someone - often a frustrated or panicked someone - troubleshoot a PC problem.

    Unjailbroken iPhones and iPads, on the other hand, are more or less appliances. They do a few things well, and for the most part behave in a predictable manner. That's because hardware and software are rigidly controlled, marching lockstep through a very limited state machine, to the point that it's actually pretty hard to crash a stock iPhone. Not impossible, obviously, but harder than it would be to crash a Dell laptop or jailbroken 3G.

    This is the "walled garden:" a closed system that's completely under the control of the system's designers. To most of us who understand how to manipulate the tools we use, enjoy it to a greater or lesser degree, and most importantly need the power and flexibility that general-purpose computing devices offer, the walled garden is a kind of... well, a jail. But to non-technical users like my retired mom, a walled garden seems like a nice place. iPhone dev Neven Mrgan looks at the walled garden metaphor and likens it to actual walled gardens like the Portland Japanese Garden, which he notes is "closed and carefully managed" because "the garden is meant to create and foster a certain tranquil mindset." Though it may not be for everybody, he implies, there are alternative places for people to go who want a less controlling environment: "freer alternatives such as community gardens and city parks."

    But busy people who just want to check out last night's scores and maybe update their Facebook status might be fine hanging out in their little walled gardens. And, you know what: maybe that is a good thing. My free tech-support hours are going to diminish (not that I hate helping friends out, but I wouldn't mind fewer emergency calls). Even Steve Jobs allows that folks like us "are still going to be around..." we're just "going to be one out of x people." And that's not altogether bad: those x people being in the garden leave more room for the rest of us in the park.

    image via motivatedphotos.com
    This article was originally published in forum thread: "It's Uncomfortable:" Jobs on the "Post-PC Era" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 49 Comments
    1. AjBlue's Avatar
      AjBlue -
      Quote Originally Posted by kraziebone View Post
      The PC is not going anywhere anytime soon. This doesn't make any sense to me because the vast majority isn't buying a tablet as a replacement to their laptop/personal computer, their buying it as a companion. This shows that the public doesn't view these new devices as the only computer they'll need.
      Actually they are going down in the general form. Average people don't need a full computer, many phones these days can do everything wanted by consumers internet wise. The only pc's and computers going to be used are mainly ones for developers and geeks. Multi-touch is actually really useful, especially for casual users it allows the user to do many things at once using the least amount of work. I wouldn't mind more things like the ipad or iphone in the future with an appstore type thing to it to assure quality, and security. Opensource is the future, and I wouldn't be surprized if andriod expands to new devices that are like closed computers, but allows developers to make secure apps and add-ons. 2cents
    1. CMOSlabs's Avatar
      CMOSlabs -
      Been repairing electronics / computers since the good ol tube days. Made a good living at it. Somewhere around 2002 or so I had to close my store.

      No more VCR/DVD, Stereo, TV, Computer repair. People just bought a new one. Its even worse today. Now there is software repair, or hack, mod, upgrade. Now and then a small hardware fix.

      Now I fix iPhones and laptops, people will pay for that. And sometimes there some hi-def TVs. Most of the computer repair is on there laptops but that is even getting harder to do because you can get a new one for under 300.00. I have also noticed that people are not getting a tower type pc. There getting laptops as there main computer.
      Floppys and cd drives are almost gone. Its all usb drives, or you hook up a external dvd drive. Seems the only time I use a dvd now is to install or re-install system software.

      There are still a place left for the power players though.
      Super Tower of Power units with dual quad core cpus (i7 or the latest intel goodies), 16g of mem etc.

      You still need those for hd video processing, hard core gamers, servers and such. Usually you build those yourself, or spend the big bucks and get the best of the best $$$.

      From the late 70s till today, the ol computer has gone through changes, and the way we use them. Only time will tell where were going next. I'm still impressed with my iTouch running AirMouse and using gestures to control all my computers.

      Hi-Tech is moving fast, either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way
    1. Doran's Avatar
      Doran -
      Quote Originally Posted by mikerlx View Post
      I thought the ipad was acknowlegded as a go between an iPhone and laptop not standalone device
      True, the iPad is meant to replace the Netbook. I have the iPad and an MSI Netbook. Sense I got my iPad, the only time I open my Netbook is to either Sync my iPad/iPhone/DocsToGo.

      My iPad works for me..... It's all about personal preference. I stopped using my Netbook for work when I got the iPad. It works great for me. It's funny because I got the Netbook to replace my Laptop for work..... I guess it is an evolution.......

      By the way.....

      Sent from my iPad........
    1. AjBlue's Avatar
      AjBlue -
      Quote Originally Posted by CMOSlabs View Post
      Been repairing electronics / computers since the good ol tube days. Made a good living at it. Somewhere around 2002 or so I had to close my store.

      No more VCR/DVD, Stereo, TV, Computer repair. People just bought a new one. Its even worse today. Now there is software repair. Now and then a small hardware fix.
      Now I fix iPhones and laptops, people will pay for that. And sometimes there some hi-def TVs. Most of the computer repair is on there laptops but that is even getting harder to do because you can get a new one for under 300.00. I have also noticed that people are not getting a tower type pc. There getting laptops as there main computer.
      Floppys and cd drives are almost gone. Its all usb drives, or you hook up a external dvd drive. Seems the only time I use a dvd now is to install or re-install system software.

      There are still a place left for the power players though.
      Super Tower of Power units with dual quad core cpus (i7 or the latest intel goodies), 16g of mem etc.

      You still need those for hd video processing, hard core gamers, servers and such. Usually you build those yourself, or spend the big bucks and get the best of the best $$$.

      From the late 70s till today, the ol computer has gone through changes, and the way we use them. Only time will tell where were going next. I'm still impressed with my iTouch running AirMouse and using gestures to control all my computers.

      Hi-Tech is moving fast, either lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way
      Agreed. Computers are changing into smaller more usable devices for consumers. Not until after about the year 2000 did people get computer. the actual computer is used for more professional purposes that require some of the highest technology. I will be surprized if the desktop PC ever actually goes extinct. Its just that all those new consumers got computers to enjoy their media because there was nothing else that could do that at the time. I think the future of technology is in most likely paper thin, sized devices that can do all of the standard things. Also with internet towers going in, i garentee radio, phones, and Tv will all be going to the internet. this way everything can be found with one service in the same place. Reason phones will companies/towers will die, is because the so called smart phones are becoming standard and more high tech and can pretty much do full computer support of the internet. so things like skype will most likely be used instead. Everyone always i skeptical of something new and strange and then when they get used to it, they couldn't imagine it any other way. and they realize how primitive the old stuff was.
    1. rickybobby's Avatar
      rickybobby -
      Quote Originally Posted by awesomeipod View Post
      that is like saying people buy pc's because they look cool.
      Like i said APPLE make cool products that are shiny, it does not matter how much it cost or how much we ***** about the lack of features it has we will buy it. And then live on the hype of products that they will bring out years later.
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      Personal computer. Dont forget what PC stands for. It means that you have a computer terminal that is meant for you, its "personal".

      If you are the sole user of your ipad/iphone, then its a PC. Boy im smart.
    1. Pitbull2o08's Avatar
      Pitbull2o08 -
      SOunds like a sales ploy to me. I mean, how else can you move more ipads after you've already sold 2 million? tell the people of the world who don't have one becasue they believe it'll never be as good as their laptop, that this is the way of the future and your laptop will be a thing of the past.

      I think the security and power a desktop has is unmatched, even by a laptop. I can see a pad device replacing a laptop, but never a desktop. There's just too much power in one to literally do anything including gaming, as someone has mentioned before. Also, with the ipad being a mobile device, we rely on a desktop or laptop, something more stationary, to back up our data, in case something happens to said ipad. However with technological advances in the "Mobile Cloud" one can easily sync data through the internet to back up, much like Nokia uses OVI, if Apple ever gets around to advancing and moving forward through this technology.
    1. tgabriel123's Avatar
      tgabriel123 -
      Pc's won't die for a LONG time, that's just common sence..and even if a ipad/tablet becomes advanced enough to compete with the specs of a pc, ipads/tablets still wouldn't be able to wipe out pc's for good. They might be able to decrease the number of people who own pc's, but it certainly won't get rid of them. I don't see any touch screen handheld device being able to run close to the specs of a pc for atleast 5 more years. ATLEAST. Most of the 45+ middle aged people will not and will never own a tablet or handheld device. You can argue with me on that, but it's true. There is only a few who will. They will stick with there "easier" to use pc's because they have already learned how to use them, and you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I'm sure they could learn the os in a few minutes or even a few hours, but they just simply would rather stick with something they already know. Why ruin a good thing? I think Steve would have to pull off one hell of a miracle and spend millions to get my 50 year old father to switch over from his pc. (which he still doesn't fully understand, I might add). Steve, you have your work cut out for you if you truely believe you can pull off killing the pc generation.
    1. aomphantom's Avatar
      aomphantom -
      The Damn iSuck tablet does not even work without a pc. You need to hook it up to iTunes to transfer all your files, to sync your music, etc... that is unless you wan't to purchase your entire music collection via itunes and download it at wifi or 3g speeds, and enter all your contacts by hand, one by one. Hmm, perhaps all my movie collection would be fun to download via wifi or 3g too, wonder how long that would take... Maybe in a very distant future some other device, def. not the iSuck, will slowly do away with pcs... but that will take quite a while.

      Quote Originally Posted by Eagleye View Post
      I couldnt agree more. Steve is probably referring to the keyboard, mouse, monitor, and cpu dying. Look at the iDevices... they have evolved from combining those basic elements. I hope there will be an easier way someday to use computers than all that clutter of keyboards and whatnot. Tell you what, Im gonna one-up Jobs... say forget the screen and typing on those horrible touch devices, I'm just gonna sync my brain up to The Matrix and believe my way around the world!!! What is the world anyway?
      "AND CPU DYING" WHAT??? What do you think runs all devices, it's called a processor... please educate yourself before you give thumbs up to AHole SJ... Oh wait, maybe that's why you give him thumbs up... makes sense now
    1. Doran's Avatar
      Doran -
      ^^^ Maybe he was saying Computer? cpu=computer??? Maybe?
    1. staterunner180's Avatar
      staterunner180 -
      I, for one, would never replace my desktop with a tablet, or even a laptop. I enjoy the speed with which I can do multiple tasks, as well as the mods and other things like that I can do that just aren't as easy on a laptop.
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      Quote Originally Posted by EdmundGerber View Post
      Call me, Jobs, when the stupid ipad can do 10% of what a PC can do - then I'll sit up and take notice.

      The **AA's and other industries would love nothing more to have us all running locked down, drm'ed to death hardware - just like apple makes - pass! Stories like this give them hard ons, for sure.
      Completely agree, but the market Jobs appeals to - everyone non-tech - has no idea what the RIAA, MPAA, or DRM are. Those of us who are passing will only make a small dent in the future of these devices. Tech is no longer for the techies.
    1. M4tt Dam0n's Avatar
      M4tt Dam0n -
      If this is the future, then it's gonna be a very sad one. Just imagine having to using the crippled iPhone OS as the main OS to do everything. Fk that lol. I like my PC.
    1. klouud's Avatar
      klouud -
      lol! So now Jobs is admitting that the iPad does not compete with the Kindle? Go figure! And no, the death of the PC will not happen for years and years. IMO the PC has had some new life breathed into it since Apple decided to start using Intel Processors - you can now build a blindingly fast PC from scratch for about $500 and load up OSX with absolutely no problems.

      --comment made from my PC running OSX86 10.6.3
    1. deshawn1680's Avatar
      deshawn1680 -
      Hmm....I will never replace my desktop with a mobile device. While I have all 5 (desktops, laptop, netbook, iTouch and iPhone), to me each device plays a different role. I like to have a desktop simply becuase I can work on it. If it breaks, I can fix it. I won't have to ship it off or take it to the Apple Store for repairs. If I want to upgrade, I can. I like having dual monitors. The hardware in desktops (depending on what you build or buy) is more customizable than trying to apply the same concept with mobile devices. I don't like either device anymore or less than the other. Though the desktop era maybe fading away, to me it still has a vital role to play that the other devices can't. Besides....playing Starcraft on my laptop sucks unless I have a separate mouse and keyboad....I can't begin to imagine what it would be like trying to play it on an iPad.
    1. Loxs's Avatar
      Loxs -
      OK so for starters I don't think Jobs means the PC is going to die in the sense that it's gonna vanish. Business' will of course still use PC's, high end users will of course still use PC's.

      But for the masses tablets are certainly something to leave a PC, After all if you look at buying trends in the computer arena laptops are selling way more than desktops now. This is due to mobility. What happens when people want more mobility ie sit in bed to read a book, take it in the kitchen to get recipes from, Surf the web on the toilet read mail in the garden etc etc with a laptop its all possible but with a tablet it's more easy and more intuitive. This is what he means by a post-pc Era IMO.

      PC's aren't going anywhere but the number that companies sell will surely go down dramatically in the next 5 years.

      this is purely my opinion and where i see things going.
    1. Electrodaktylus's Avatar
      Electrodaktylus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      If you don't see tablets, iPad, and smaller powerful electronics overtaking PCs you're deluding yourselves. It'll be a way off in the future and PCs will still be around, but the idea of a desktop PC is slowly fading away as we move to a wireless and mobile world.

      Then again, our phones tablets ARE PC's nowadays, so they're not really dying off more like evolving.
      You're right man. PC's are not going to disappear, they're transforming into different forms... my email and social communications now belong to my iPhone, Office/Productivity/Internet Browsing/School Stuff still demands my PC/MBP; and all my multimedia is happily saved in my home server/NAS that can stream to PC/MBP/iPhone/TV/work PC/friends...

      PC=Personal Computer=a computer that is for personal use; a computer that belongs to a person.

      Following this line all devices (tablets/pads, desktop, laptop, nettop, smartphone...) that can compute and belong to a person are PC's!! including Apple PC's, Windows PC's, Linux PC's, Chrome OS PC's, WebOS PC's, Android PC's,...
    1. StevenB's Avatar
      StevenB -
      *sigh* "...with the iPad whipping off store shelves at the rate of a million per month"

      I don't like how this is stated. Yes it did sell two million in two months but that line makes it seem like its been out for a while already and is selling for a million per month. If it continues to sell a million a month for a year then yes I will eat these words (virtually of course through an iPad...maybe even with a side of Flash!)
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      Quote Originally Posted by domthebigbomb View Post
      did u just say the cpu is dying?
      NO, hahaha, the CPU is not dying... i said the combination of all those things TOGETHER are dying!

      Quote Originally Posted by aomphantom View Post
      "AND CPU DYING" WHAT??? What do you think runs all devices, it's called a processor... please educate yourself before you give thumbs up to AHole SJ... Oh wait, maybe that's why you give him thumbs up... makes sense now
      I meant the base unit. The combination of the mouse, keyboard, monitor, and base unit together is what is dying. And a processor is another term for CPU, but then again... not all processors are CPUs. Some are GPU and... i digress.

      On a side note, I can put my thumbs wherever I want to! (wait, wha?)
    1. Pitbull2o08's Avatar
      Pitbull2o08 -
      ^^^ WTF?!

      I thought GPU meant Graphics Processor?If so that's not a CPU.