Steve Jobs: Post-PC Era Coming
Apple’s Steve Jobs says the personal computer is soon to be a relic of a bygone age:
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif.–At the D8 conference here, Steve Jobs didn’t whip out the newest iPhone or tell us which category will be next to get an “i” before it, but his words offered a glimpse of where the iconic CEO thinks the industry is headed.
Speaking for an hour and a half at the D: All Things Digital confab, Jobs said the day is coming when only one out of every few people will need a traditional computer.
“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms.” Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.
“PCs are going to be like trucks,” Jobs said. “They are still going to be around.” However, he said, only “one out of x people will need them.”
Jobs said advances in chips and software will allow tablet devices like the iPad to do tasks that today are really only suited for a traditional computer, things like video editing and graphic arts work.
The move, Jobs said, will make many PC veterans uneasy, “because the PC has taken us a long ways.”
“We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it’s uncomfortable,” he said.
Jobs noted that people still laugh at him when he talks about the iPad as magical, and he tried to put that feeling into more concrete terms. “You have a much more direct and intimate relationship with the Internet and media and apps and your content,” Jobs said. “It’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away. Like that Claritin commercial where they strip away the film–it’s like that.”
While I’m still a PC guy and likely to be for some time, this strikes me as right. Really, while I do word processing and whatnot, even on my multiple PCs, I’m mostly working on the cloud. The only reason I use a desktop is because I prefer a big keyboard and large, dual monitors, not because I really need a lot of capability that an iPad type device couldn’t provide.
What drew me to to write about this piece, though, is Jobs’ strange assertion about the history of the automobile. The first cars were glorified carriages, replacing the horse and buggy for a wealthy elite. Not only were they unsuited for driving on the unimproved roads of a farm, they didn’t have the horsepower to carry a load. Trucks came along well down the line and never held a larger market share than cars.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum had the same thought re: the trucks analogy and several helpful commenters suggest that Jobs was referring to the Ford Model T, the first mass market car, rather than the earlier vehicles available only to the elite. This thesis is interesting and plausible except for the minor objection that the Model T was in no ways a truck, nor ever intended as a farm vehicle.