Year One of the PPC (Post-PC) Era

Tablet, Smartphone, Ultrabook or Notebook, what’s your choice for 2013?

Well, 2013 is here. I am not the first or only one, but I am declaring this year to be year one of the PPC (Post-PC) Era. We have truly put the trusty old PC behind us. Today, everything is mobile and an app. The days of having the ball and chain of a traditional computer tying us to a desk are officially over. Like the Apple 1984 commercial, the hammer has smashed that screen and we have been set free.

I think we have all realized that we have been untethered from our desk and desktops for some time. But, for most of us, this just meant we traded one form of PC for another. We moved away from the traditional desktop and bulky (or even thin) monitor to our laptops. Yes, they were smaller and smaller, thinner and thinner, they ran on battery and we could take them where we wanted to go. But at the end of the day most of them ran Windows. They ran the same programs our desktops did. Unless we were lucky enough to be somewhere where WiFi was offered or we had one of those clunky, expensive WiFi cards, we could not connect to the network. But that was all pre-PPC Era.

Several factors have converged to make the PPC Era possible. First has been the explosion of different types of computing devices that we can use.  Smartphones, whether they be Apple, Android or, yes, even Windows, have been the biggest liberator of the masses. You don't want to be writing whitepapers or doing lots of spreadsheet editing on them, but smartphones have allowed us to take our email, calendar and info with us. On top of this, they keep us always connected to the network. Data rates are still too high from some of the bigger carriers (Yes you AT&T and Verizon), but within the budget of most of us.

Smartphones are more than just smaller laptops. They don't run the same programs we do on our PCs. Smartphones have ushered in the era of apps. I remember my mate from down under, Andrew Grealy (congrats on baby coming Andrew!), squealing to me about the 10,000 apps that were going to make the iPhone my phone of choice. Little did I think that 10,000 was conservative. You and I both know, today there is an app for just about anything.  Apps aren't just for smartphones, either. There are apps for our smart TVs, apps for the cloud, apps for everything. Software is eating the world, as Marc Andreesen says, but the software is apps, not programs.

In addition to apps, another prerequisite of the PPC Era is ubiquitous connectivity. The great thing about smartphones is they use 3G and 4G cell networks. But other devices may not use the costly cell networks. Fortunately, WiFi access is everywhere and usually free. Whether we are in a coffee shop, bar, restaurant, airport or even on a plane at 35,000 feet, we can fire up our device and connect to the net. This has allowed another major device of the PPC era available, the tablet. Yes, Apple brought tablets to the masses (after several fits and starts by Microsoft) but in the end, I think tablets will follow the path of smartphones. Eventually, the multi-headed Android and other tablets will give Apple a run for their money, bringing real choice to consumers.

For me, as I have written, my HP Touchpad running Android has replaced my laptop for probably 70% of my computing needs. Unfortunately, I still find it easier to type on my laptop (sometimes), so this post is written via laptop. But one of my resolutions this year is to write or dictate more blog posts via my tablet.

Tablets and smartphones are not alone, though. There is another class of devices that, for me, are characterized by the Lenovo Yoga Ideapad. Not a netbook, which I was never a big fan of (but yet another PPC Era device), the Yoga and its ilk seem to be more of a hybrid between a tablet and a notebook, but yet even more. I haven't played with these enough yet, but they seem to add yet another dimension to what you can do and how you can use your post-PC device. The good news for Microsoft is that most devices in this class run Windows 8. Maybe this represents Microsoft's best hope of remaining relevant in the PPC Era

So we are living in a new era. What about you? What is your device of choice for the PPC Era? If you are like most it is probably a combination of several devices. One thing I do know is that the changes that this era brings are still being invented. We will be using these devices to do things we haven't even tried yet. Welcome to the future!

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