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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. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      darn. And i just bought a new computer...... I guess since steve-o says that it's going down I'm going to need to go get an ipad b/c that's what my god SJ said.
    1. GellBrake'rrrr's Avatar
      GellBrake'rrrr -
      Deep thoughts - By: Steve Jobs
    1. kraziebone's Avatar
      kraziebone -
      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.
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      if computers are so yesterday, what does steve jobs expect us to sync our iphones, ipods and ipads to?
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      ^The...internet? Maybe...

      Death of PC's? I don't think it is going anywhere. If it does, then my MBP and PC will be useless for the future...
    1. wolverinemarky's Avatar
      wolverinemarky -
      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.
      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
    1. rickybobby's Avatar
      rickybobby -
      Quote Originally Posted by whereswaldo View Post
      if computers are so yesterday, what does steve jobs expect us to sync our iphones, ipods and ipads to?
      Very good point but how can he say that when all of the mobile internet is so strip down and does not do all a pc does. Plus screw the ipad its not even close to knocking off the pc, come with webcam more storage and usb then he can say that. People buy apple products because they are shiny and they are the new hot products.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Quote Originally Posted by rickybobby View Post
      People buy apple products because they are shiny and they are the new hot products.
      That is like saying people buy PC's because they look cool.
    1. iphnblues's Avatar
      iphnblues -
      I am the alpha and the omega i am Steve jobs!!!!!!!!!!!
      anyways the ipad is going to get its but kicked when nvidia starts rolling out there android tablets those things look sweet and guess what u can do almost whatever u want with them without jailbreaking and as soon as at&t gets some better android phones ill be kissing this iPhone goodbye

      Quote Originally Posted by iphnblues View Post
      I am the alpha and the omega i am Steve jobs!!!!!!!!!!!
      anyways the ipad is going to get its but kicked when nvidia starts rolling out there android tablets those things look sweet and guess what u can do almost whatever u want with them without jailbreaking and as soon as at&t gets some better android phones ill be kissing this iPhone goodbye
      oh one more thing Apple=1984
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      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.
    1. EdmundGerber's Avatar
      EdmundGerber -
      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.
    1. iphnblues's Avatar
      iphnblues -
      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.
      i understand what ur saying and yes im with u one day they will take over but that is very far away dont forget the ipad doesn't even have a camera yet that will be on the next one lol then the'll add a video recorder after that lol. but what about gaming where do u see that going cause i mean they still have some pretty good games out for the pc but thats starting to go kinda down hill cause they just port games over to the pc now if they keep that up then yes they will start loosing a lot of people what will be the point in having a custom pc with a mean gpu and cpu other then programing of course

      lol i can see it now iWarcraft
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      I thought the ipad was acknowlegded as a go between an iPhone and laptop not standalone device
    1. Eagleye's Avatar
      Eagleye -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      Then again, our phones tablets ARE PC's nowadays, so they're not really dying off more like evolving.
      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?
    1. H3x.'s Avatar
      H3x. -
      The pc won't die ...

      A large number of people use their pc's for gaming ... For example over 12 million people play world of Warcraft ... I can't see that dying any tine soon considering it's got a growing population and it's kind of impossible to play on a tablet pc..

      Also people who lover their pc specs , a tablet will never match a pc for specs ...
    1. Bluprint's Avatar
      Bluprint -
      If apple weren't so stingy in providing us with relevant technology maybe I'll believe them. Untilthen I'll keep my pc around when it comes to downloading, transferring, and collecting music and movies.
    1. domthebigbomb's Avatar
      domthebigbomb -
      Quote Originally Posted by awesomeiPod View Post
      That is like saying people buy PC's because they look cool.
      uhhh... not quite. Apple products are bit over priced and sometimes a PC does look cool i.e. FragBox
    1. techrider62's Avatar
      techrider62 -
      They said the same thing about laptops.
    1. jcal08's Avatar
      jcal08 -
      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?
      I'll take one of those ibrains too sir!
    1. domthebigbomb's Avatar
      domthebigbomb -
      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?
      did u just say the cpu is dying?