The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, but now that Apple has served up the ‘post-PC’ handle for what’s going on, it has people buzzing:
Joshua Topolsky, It’s Apple’s ‘post-PC’ world — we’re all just living in it
This week, Apple stepped into the “post-PC” era of computing — and there’s no looking back, at least not for the folks in Cupertino.
By joining the company’s ongoing vision of a “different” kind of computing with a soundbite friendly piece of marketing-speak, Apple has changed the rules of the game, and made the competition’s efforts not just an uphill battle, but — at least in the eyes of Steve Jobs and co. — essentially moot. But what exactly is the “post-PC” world? And why is it significant? Let me explain.
In this new world, Apple no longer has to compete on specs and features, nor does it want to. There is no Mac vs. PC here — only “the future” versus “the past.” It won’t be a debate about displays, memory, wireless options — it will be a debate about the quality of the experience. Apple is not just eschewing the spec conversation in favor of a different conversation — it’s rendering those former conversations useless. It would be like trying to compare a race car to a deeply satisfying book. In a post-PC world, the experience of the product is central and significant above all else. It’s not the RAM or CPU speed, screen resolution or number of ports which dictate whether a product is valuable; it becomes purely about the experience of using the device. What that means is that while Motorola and Verizon will spend millions of dollars advertising the Xoom’s 4G upgrade options, CPU speed, and high-resolution cameras, Apple need only delight consumers and tell them that specs and and speed are the domain of a dinosaur called the PC. Apple isn’t claiming victory in the Space Race — it’s ceding space to the competition.
But guess who gets Earth all to itself? Apple’s not saying that it beats other tablets on the market. It’s saying “we do one thing, and these guys do something else altogether.” They’re not competition — they’re not even playing the same game!
That’s not to say Apple has given up on PCs, and in fact, the company’s laptop sales are consistently exceeding expectations. But take a look at what’s creeping around the corner. There’s Lion, with its iOS-like interface, its simplified experience. If Apple has its way, and if the sales of its mobile devices carry on in the manner they have up until now, a post-PC outlook will even fit devices that look alarmingly like… PCs.
Apple isn’t just challenging perceptions of the PC — they’re saying that the age of the PC is over (at least for most people). The company is forcing consumers to ask if they even still want or need something called a PC (while of course making sure to point out that the competition is playing the same old game). And really, that’s all part of the plan. Apple is in the process of making the iPad the de-facto standard for what the next stage of computing looks like, from the look and feel to the kind of software and experiences you have on the device. Apple doesn’t just want to own the market — it wants to own the idea of the market.