The PC is dead, long live the PC

MG Siegler recently posted a great don’t-call-it-an-obituary for the PC on TechCrunch. His main point, for those too busy/lazy to read the whole thing, was that the PC as we all know it (and don’t really love it) today is dying, and the reason for that is the iPad. Now, before you go run and hide from the same point that’s been made a hundred times before, I’d like to throw in my own slant on this topic rather than state the blindingly obvious.

Everyone knows that the iPad is taking masses of sales away from PCs in the casual user space, and it won’t be long until the PC is relegated to a solely-enterprise business.

Dell laptop

What I’d like to talk about today, though, is a quick anecdote from a small business owner I know. So we’re not talking about the consumer space, here.

The guy I’m talking about owns his own hairdressing salon. He’s been a hairdresser for about 20 years, and the business is doing really well. He’s just expanded his premises into the shop next door and now has a nice medium-sized salon in the centre of our town. Now and again I’ll go in and chat to him about business and how everything’s going. The last time I was there, we got onto the subject of technology (as is generally the case when people talk to me), and he said he was quite interested in getting an iPad for the salon.

My first reaction was, “Why on earth would you want to do that? He then explained that he thought it’d be a nice idea if people, while they’re having their hair done, could ‘like’ the salon’s Facebook page or maybe tweet something complimentary. I then came round to his thinking and thought, “Actually, that’s a pretty good idea.”

iPad 2

People love using iPads—just look in an Apple store next time you’re around one: all the iPads are generally being played with, and you’ll always see the MacBooks looking a bit lonely. So I could definitely see people giving the salon a bit of a social boost if they got to check their Facebook or Twitter while having their hair done. So I commended the salon owner on his idea and offered my services if he needed any help getting things set up.

After this encounter (and after reading Siegler’s post), it occurred to me that it would never have been a good idea if we were talking about a PC. Could you imagine? You’re getting your hair done and somebody slings a laptop onto your…uh…lap, and asks if you want to do a spot of casual computing? It just wouldn’t work.

This brings me round to my real point—OK, so it took a while—which is: for casual users, there is no better PC than the iPad.

PCs are still great work machines, and I can’t see the iPad taking that market any time soon (although watch that space), but when it comes to situations like the one I detailed above, the iPad makes computing fun for those who think computing is a pain, and that’s why the days of the consumer PC are numbered.

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