It's more like the "multiple device" era. It's amazing to me that there are people who can buy into conspiracy theories like questioning President Obama's "real birthplace," but when it comes to this brave new world of technology that requires us to have multiple devices, no one is suspicious this happened on purpose.
I'm not sayin' it's true. I'm just sayin'...
...that it's not a post-PC era as Steve Jobs calls it. The PC is not dead. It's not even ailing. Try creating or managing a complicated spreadsheet on an iPad when you've been doing it on Wintel machines for 20 years. Try editing an industrial video for your business to post on YouTube on your not-that-smart phone.
That being said, in the world of touch-and-go computing, the PC is not enough anymore and it's about as satisfying as walking on the beach in penny loafers. When I do sit down to create an Excel spreadsheet or just do some heavy writing or Web research, I find myself pinching and flicking the screen in futility without thinking.
There are a couple of things that made this all possible:
1. Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS). We should have seen this coming several years ago when SaaS was all the talk. When programs became Web-based and choice of operating system agnostic, it meant users could go seamlessly between devices accessing the same files without worrying about compatible formats. Naturally, this paved the way for storing all those files on the cloud for universal access—from multiple devices. At first, we, the unsuspecting user thought, 'how cool, I can access my stuff from home and work." Little did we know, it would also mean from vacation, my mother's house at Thanksgiving, the Starbucks down the street from my daughter's ballet studio and, in a pinch, from my laptop, smartphone, tablet, heck, even my Kindle sometimes.
2. Cheap enough for impulse shopping. Buying a new desktop or laptop used to be a major committment. I remember back in the old days (the late 90s?) when me and my friends would spend weeks or months researching and debating the specs on all the available PC models out there before making a choice. It was almost like buying a car, and often required decent credit. Compare that to today, when you can pick up a new laptop or smartphone or tablet for $500 or less at any given time. You don't have to worry about credit, just whether you are far enough along on your Verizon contract to get the subsidized upgrade.
I admit, I love my computing toys. I have a netbook, a smartphone, a tablet and a Kindle. But when it comes time to go on the road, I hate having to decide which stays home. I was at a conference earlier this month and three out of four made the trip. I felt pretty ridiculous juggling them all on my lap while riding Amtrak from New York to Washington.
I don't know if the tech companies set us up for this on purpose, but name one that isn't benefitting from it.
Hardware makers like it, because we're buying devices more frequently. The three-year refresh cycle is now an annual event, usually just in time for holiday shopping.
The App developers love it for obvious reasons.
Cloud-based services like Dropbox wouldn't exist without the need that's been created to store and sync our stuff.
Media companies like it because we're never too far from a push notification.
Social media companies like it because we're never too far from our feeds.
The wireless carriers loooove it, because they just want to sell us more contracts to keep all our devices on the grid.
There are many who say this is all temporary. Tablets will eventually ramp up in sophistication to the point that we won't need a laptop. Perhaps! Then again, remember who makes the tablets and the laptops/desktops. Do you really think they want to completely kill off one child to enable the other?
I'm kind of thinking, "no" to the last question. I'm kind of thinking that it's always going to benefit everyone involved (but us) for all these devices to sync up data seamlessly, but syncing up our user needs? Not quite so seamlessly!
That's my conspiracy theory and I'm sticking to it. As for the President, I still think he was born in Hawaii.