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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. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      No a graphics processor is not a CPU, but it's still a processor. I think were all saying the same things..
    1. elite_jounin's Avatar
      elite_jounin -
      Seems that someone is a little haughty in their speech! We are way to earlier to start using terms like "Post PC-Era". Okay jobs you struck oil with the ipod,iphone, and ipad (which is debatable) but don't let that go to your head and here are some reasons...

      1. You can't randomly download and install files off the internet at your free will.

      2. Flash is not that big of a deal to me but people LOVE compatibility with just about any and everything.

      3. Keywords: OPEN SOURCE, apple really isn't a fan of this.

      Those are only a few reason and theres plenty more. I love apple products but apple moves to the beat of their own drum. PC's aren't going anywhere at least no time soon. Jobs just needs to keep running his company the way he's been doing and keep making great products and let the people choose when the "PC-Era" is dead.
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      This is still yeeears away, but it is coming. And it should. Advancements in technology will provide us with smaller and better machines. I can't wait until tablets can replace a full sized desktop replacement laptop.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by awesomeiPod View Post
      That is like saying people buy PC's because they look cool.
      He did make an overgeneralization but you would be a fool to think that there isn't a chunk of Apple product users who buy the product because of aesthetics.
    1. mardinn's Avatar
      mardinn -
      Hah.. Steve Jobs you god damned knob.. Death of PC? Yes I will now Go to apple store and buy a TABLET instead of my Beat PC Machine. ;p He is really pushing my nerves.. I am from now on more successful than Gates, HAH you wish.
    1. chuckiecheese's Avatar
      chuckiecheese -
      You still need a pc to use the iphone, ipad, ipod...how the hell would u sync all your media and content???
    1. mardinn's Avatar
      mardinn -
      iTunes CLOUD!
      Then iTunes will try to 3g sync with everyone so they can control EVERYTHING!
    1. cmwade77's Avatar
      cmwade77 -
      Quote Originally Posted by wolverinemarky View Post
      yet this is just the first generation tablets will get more advanced especially as competition in the market heats up and accessories market will grow out of control in the end PCs may very well die in the next 5-10 years or maybe even less depends on the competition. the iPad alone wont kill the PC but many other tablets can and will
      There is no way that the PC is going to die anytime soon, we will still need it for major things, like running processor intensive applications. (i.e. AutoCAD, Revit, etc. for designing buildings)

      That being said, I could see Tablets being a good replacement for the non tech-savy people, especially if they could sync to the web. I do agree with the article that it would definitely reduce my free support hours helping friends and family with computer problems.
    1. aomphantom's Avatar
      aomphantom -
      Quote Originally Posted by mardinn View Post
      Hah.. Steve Jobs you god damned knob.. Death of PC? Yes I will now Go to apple store and buy a TABLET instead of my Beat PC Machine. ;p He is really pushing my nerves.. I am from now on more successful than Gates, HAH you wish.
      Damn Right!