Think beyond not post PC

For 99% of people, keyboard-input is becoming less relevant since devices got all interactive and touchy-feely. The design of the typical workplace and business software needs to catch-up…

There’s plenty of talk about being in the Post-PC world, primarily thanks to the iPad but also other tablet devices and the increased use of mobile phones for Internet interactions that previously required a PC.  Post-PC makes it sound like game over for the PC. Nope!

There are also those who rubbish the concept of Post-PC – an iPad will never be good at intensive data input and manipulation (photo/video editing as well as document stuff). Or rather, it’s pointless having an iPad and a keyboard, just accept that you need a laptop. Nope!

Both camps are wrong.

We are going beyond the PC. It’s functions are shifting across to tablets. The typical workplace will still have devices sat on desks that resemble PCs for a good while yet.  The difference is that people will get up and take just the screen with them to a meeting. Then return, dock the screen and resume editing the report on the wireless keyboard and mouse they left behind. That’s not post-PC. But it doesn’t require a laptop either.

Here are some scenarios of going beyond a PC but not post-PC

  • On holiday.  A tablet and skinny keyboard are lighter and cheaper to carry, and cheaper to replace than a laptop (read your holiday travel insurance policy) if stolen or broken. And typically contain less sensitive data than your laptop.  Tablet is coming along for reading/media/games and the odd email check. Keyboard just in case/convenience – it’s supposed to be a holiday after all. Laptop stays at home syncing updates across the cloud…
  • Non-creative roles in the workplace.  A docked tablet + keyboard in time will be more than sufficient for all common workplace tasks and viewing/analysis of data. With the advantage that access to all your organisation’s data is now mobile. No more meetings with ‘I’ll look that up when I get back to my desk’. No more lugging heavy laptops between locations just to access email and review/edit paperwork. Grab the tablet and go.  Come back to the keyboard later.  Note – these may be a different type of tablet to those available today. Probably bulkier (cheaper), more powerful spec (to behave like a laptop on the desk) and less battery life (sufficient for meetings, not designed to last all day – cheaper, remember).
  • Commuters, consultants and freelancers. The early adopters of cloud computing and already getting used to being able to login from any device anywhere and still be able to access/share data. A tablet is way more convenient than a laptop, or newspaper even, when you’re stuck on a crowded train. What you use at the destination depends on your role…

Here’s where laptops and PCs will stick around

  • The 1% – people who create original content: full-time writers, programmers, media producers.  Heavy content creation is likely to keep you tethered to a laptop, even when traveling (try balancing a bluetooth keyboard on your lap at a conference without tables).  And the best laptops get ever more powerful, skinnier and lighter.
  • And people who think it looks normal to sit in a deck chair on holiday writing emails on their laptop. It’s doing exactly what its name says, sitting on top of a lap. Go on, treat yourself! Buy a tablet and leave the laptop at home 🙂



Source: “90-9-1″ Rule for Social Design, Jacob Neilsen, October 2006

The 1% will be the niche that keeps PCs alive and well for a long time yet. 9% will move beyond or have both. 90% would probably agree with the opinion that we’re in a post-PC world and have little use for the keyboard. For 99% of people, keyboard-input is becoming less relevant since devices got all interactive and touchy-feely. Being able to swipe, flick and pinch your way through data is proving faster and easier and way more convenient than scrolling with a mouse or tapping away at a keyboard.  The design of the typical workplace and business software needs to catch-up…


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