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Tech Talk Live Blog

Are We in a Post-PC Era?

Jessica Diller


Technology through the years has shown many stages of evolution, from the mainframe era in the 1970s to the PC era in the mid-1980s, reaching the Web 2.0 era that is more present today.   If technology has gone through so much evolution (a major shift about every ten years), the only conclusion is that there will be a post-PC era coming soon.  Some believe the decline of sales for personal computers and the shift to cell phones and tablets is an indication that the post-PC era is upon us. With the shift to cloud computing, allowing for information to be stored outside of the device but easily accessible at all times, smaller devices with limited storage and processing power can act as a personal computer (Bourgeois, 2014). So is the post-PC era upon us? Should schools be teaching our kids how to use Google for Education, Office 365, or full blown Microsoft Office Suite?

“Post-PC era”

Merriam-Webster defines the word post (prefix) as after, subsequent, or later.  The Post-PC era would mean that the PC era would have to end and not co-exist, in order for it to become “post.”  While there has been a decrease in the purchases of personal computers and an increase in mobile devices, one might conclude that the use of personal computers has declined or could it be simply something else?  Could it be possible that personal computers have advanced in technology and are just lasting longer? According to an article published in 2017 in The Telegraph, tablet sales have fallen for the third consecutive year as the PC market stabilizes (Titcomb, 2017). The once sought after iPad, once supposed to replace the personal computer, has sizzled and failed to perform past the e-reader/app playing device. Users instead have preferred to use larger screen devices and laptops over the iPad, especially younger more tech-savvy consumers (Titcomb, 2017).

To say that we are entering or in the middle of the post-PC era would mean that the personal computer is dying or dead.  According to Dvorak that would be utter nonsense. Making that assumption would completely ignore the underlying factor that the decline of computer sales is mostly due to market saturation and improved performance and longevity, especially given the fact that even though sales have declined, over 1.6 billion machines are being used routinely in organizations today (Dvorak, 2014).

While mobile devices and cloud computing have made great strides over the last ten years, the fact is that they are still not the preferred device for “real” tasks, especially for business. Executives see mobile devices as an integral piece for communication, but 87% still use a laptop as their primary device. The reality is that both PCs and mobile devices will coexist for an extended period of time. In order to prepare students for the working world, they must establish the skills employers are looking for today.  While schools look to expand their curriculum to include useful skills, such as coding and engineering, be sure to include the basics such as Excel and Word. A 2016 Forbes survey found that 36% of college grads need to learn data analysis tools such as Excel, Tableau, Python, R, etc.

So schools, while mobile devices might seem like a great device for some curriculum, do not go throwing out your computers yet. As I see it, we are not currently in the post-PC era, and we will not be there in quite a while.  We will most likely reach a PC 2.0 era, where technology will continue to evolve and merge into devices that are not considered either a PC or a mobile device. Until then, continue to teach the basics. Employers everywhere will be thanking you.

References:

Bourgeois, D. T. (2014). In Information Systems for Business and Beyond (pp. 5-12). The Saylor Academy.

Dvorak, J. C. (2014, April 1). The Myth of the Post-PC Era. PC Magazine, pp. 41-43.

Forbes Insights. (2010). The Untethered Executive: Business Information in the Age of Mobility. Forbes.

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster.com: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/post

Titcomb, J. (2017, January 11). Tablet Sales to Fall for Third Successive Year as PC Market Stabilizes. The Telegraph.

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