According to Michael Moritz’s Return to the Little Kingdom, while working at HP in the mid-Seventies, Steve Wozniak and some of his colleages attempted to convince the company to get into the production of microcomputers. They were told, “HP doesn’t want to be in that kind of a market.”
Any device which is A) personal and B) computes is a PC, to my mind. The argument that phones and tablets aren’t PC’s because they’re less capable than desktops is more than a little specious. Our phones and tablets are arguably more powerful and capable than our desktops and laptops were ten years ago–with a few exceptions given for things like video editing, but even that task was pretty primitive back then compared to now. If tablets aren’t PC’s because they’re less capable than a full-blown modern Mac Pro, should we also retroactively decide that 1995’s computers aren’t PC’s?
The idea of “what a computer is” isn’t changing, per se, it’s just that we have this arbitrary distinction between mobile and not-so-mobile. That distinction will continue to erode. I have no doubt about it. We’re talking about form factor here less than we’re talking about essential functionality.
Back to the oft-repeated notion that one “can’t get anything done” on these mobile devices: I personally own a Windows desktop, a Windows netbook, a CR-48 (chromebook), an iPad and an iPhone. Any computing task I undertake–anything, except for video editing–can be done on any of these devices (nota bene: I’m a professional filmmaker, so the editing I do is of a different sort than that which Joe Blow is going to do…and that can be done on an iPad, pretty much). The idea that “real work” can only be done on a desktop or a laptop is incredibly fallacious, and I think the people who say that sort of thing are probably most often people who don’t (yet) own tablets.
<p><span style="color: #666666;font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;font-size: 14px;line-height: 18px">I remember a (resistive) touchscreen interface in an Alabama Welcome Center along I-59 back in the late ‘80’s. It was a sort of proto-Google on a local level, with info about tourist attractions and the like. My sister and I would always make our mother stop there so we could play with it. It seemed so futuristic and sophisticated. And now I’m typing these words on a more advanced (capacitive) touchscreen. Did it really need to take so long to get this tech in everyone’s hands? Is the lightning-quick tech dev cycle a myth? What’s holding us back, if so?</span></p>