Have we entered the "Post PC" era?

If you're a technology geek you've probably heard the term "post PC" quite a bit recently. For those of you that haven't heard the term, it refers to a (supposed) new era in technology when people will no longer need a Personal Computer as we know it today. Instead they will use something like the iPad.

(For the sake of this discussion, I'm refering to the multifunctional desktop and laptop personal computers when I say Personal Computers or PC's)

To help put some contect around this I'll quote part of an article from Cnet:

[Steve] Jobs said the day is coming when only one out of every few people will need a traditional computer. "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that's what you needed on the farms." Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular. "PCs are going to be like trucks," Jobs said. "They are still going to be around." However, he said, only "one out of x people will need them."

I have spent over 20 years supporting computer users and I agree that technology has reached a stage where the majority of people never need to touch a Personal Computer. Especially in the home environment. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that a majority of people will stop buying personal computers. There will still be many years left of people buying computer equipment that is way more powerful (and complex) than they will ever need. And as a result, the "tech support" industry has plenty of years left to run.

Before you put yourself in the "I still need a PC" camp, ask yourself what you use your home computer for. If you're like most people you'll say "email, surfing the web, printing, scanning, managing photos, creating documents, playing games". If that's you, then you need to seriously consider buying a tablet instead of a PC the next time you need to upgrade. If you do a bit of "spreadsheeting" then you might also get away with a tablet.

I'm not saying it's an open and shut case. You may still fall into the "PC" camp, but it's definitely worth some thought.

Why? What's the benefit of moving away from a PC? The answer is simplicity. Moving away from a PC will simplify your computer environment enormously. And when you remove complexity, you remove stress. And that's when you'll really start to see some amazing things.

I recently replaced a PC with an iPad at the house of a family member. They had previously used their computer for email, surfing the web, creating documents, printing, scanning and managing their photos. Now they use an iPad and a wireless printer/scanner. They've been using this solution for over 6 months and get more value from it than they ever got from their PC.

Clearly there will always be people that need the power and flexibility of a PC and are prepared to deal with the "pain" of using such a complex device. But every day more people will find they are happy with the simplicity of a tablet (or similar).

It's clear the Post PC era has begun. I just wonder how long it will be before this is true for the majority of computer users.