Doctor Mark Dean, one of the engineers that developed the original IBM PC, and now currently Chief Technology Officer for IBM in the Middle East and Africa, recently posted on his blog that he believes that PC’s “…are going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.” His remarks came about as the computer industry paused to consider the fact that the birth of the IBM PC was thirty years ago.
Microsoft, though loathe to admit it, also acknowledged both the birthday and the apparent decline of the Personal Computer, the bread and butter of its business for the same time frame as the PC, on its Official Microsoft Blog. Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications of Microsoft, writes that when asked about the demise of the PC, which he says he prefers to call the PC-plus era, that “…we continue to build great software, and our software’s value is expressed in the consumer and enterprise devices and services we deliver to our customers.” Or in other words, Microsoft isn’t standing still, it’s investing in all the stuff that users will be using besides PC’s over the next however many years.
Is the Era of the PC Really Over?
Clearly the PC isn’t dead just yet, though, as Shaw notes, Microsoft expects over 400 million of them to be sold this year alone. That seems like an awful lot for a machine so many are ready to consign to the scrap heap.
It appears what the so-called industry experts mean by the end of the PC era, is more of a shift in emphasis. For thirty years, the PC has been the focus of more attention than any other consumer device. So much software has been written for it that it’s doubtful it could ever be catalogued and counted; magazines dedicated exclusively to it sprang up to help users wade the murky depths of those first clunky machines.
Now, those same magazines are switching their emphasis. No longer is the PC the main focus of their articles; instead as they continue to cover PCs and the software that goes with them, they also write about Apple computers, iPhones, BlackBerrys, smartphones running Google’s Amazon OS, tablets, mini-notepads, and any other gadget that seems remotely interesting. And if that isn’t enough, they cover the latest operating system tips, Internet goings on, video games and systems and gadgets such as Roku to help users get more content. In short, it’s no longer about the PC, it’s about technology in general, and the PC will just be another machine in a crowded field.
- “The IBM PC is 30 Years Old – And We’re (All) Just Getting Started” The Official Microsoft Blog, viewed August 12, 2011
- “IBM Leads the Way in the Post PC Era” Building a Smarter Planet, viewed August 12, 2011
- “Era of the PC ‘coming to a close’” BBC.co.uk viewed August 12, 2011