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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Strap on your seatbelts for a Post-PC world ride

During the iPad 2 announcement last week, Steve Jobs and Apple got everyone thinking about what direction the industry is moving in when he spoke about the 'post-PC' world.  Engadget's Joshua Topolsky, who's become a media-startlet in his own way with his appearances on Jimmy Kimmel's talk show in the US, wrote about this further in an editorial on the technology publication's website.

We're now in a 'Post-PC' world.  Image courtesy engadget.com.


In essence, Topolsky made the the point that Apple moved into the "post-PC" era of computing where they've gravely changed the rules and definitions of the game being played.  As Topolsky said in his editorial that "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."

This is a big statement to make.  Topolsky quantifies this statement by saying "Apple no longer has to compete on specs and features, not does it want to. There is no Mac vs. PC here -- only 'the future' versus 'the past.'"

Topolsky goes on to say that it's all about experience, not specifications.  Any discussion on displays, memory, processor speeds, etc. will be irrelevant.  The same is somewhat true already today if you consider the fact that many tablets out there are technically stronger than Apple's iPad family but have failed as far as sales have gone.  Even a strong PR and marketing engine won't be enough to compete with Apple argues Topolsky unless the brand can match the Apple experience or as Topolsky says "find a way to delight the average consumer."

The one brand that Topolsky highlights that could come close to matching Apple in some way, shape or form, is HP because along with WebOS, their Touch-to-Share does pit it differently against the other tablets out there.  While I would also echo Topolsky's sentiments on HP, a lot of HP in our region depends on how they're able to execute their overall smartphone and tablet strategy.  Whereas in many other parts of the world where HP can bank upon the equity Palm may have carried once upon a time, in the UAE, Palm was sliding downhill for a number of years so there isn't really much left for Palm here in terms of brand equity or infrastructure.  HP however does have a formidable presence in the Middle East but their success till date in the mobile space has been limited.

By bringing more Apps onto the tablet, Apple has also worked to break away the lines of differentiation between what a PC did versus a tablet.  Admittedly, it isn't as easy to do everything on a tablet as it would be on a notebook PC, the fact is Apple has found certain components of the iPad to be so powerful, it's porting them onto the Macbooks, hence the birth of the Mac App Store.  Topolsky goes on in his editorial to say "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."

His concluding remarks go back to the days of the iPod and echo a conversation I had with an industry executive here in Dubai two nights ago.  He says "There was a time before the iPod too, when companies like HP, Samsung, and even Microsoft fought against Apple for the hearts and minds of the consumer -- but I'll be damned if anyone can remember it."

To read Joshua Topolsky's full editorial, click here.

Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics