IBM Agrees With Apple: PCs Are History


Photo by fhwrdh -
Photo by fhwrdh -

The engineer who helped created the first IBM PC 30 years ago Friday, marked the upcoming anniversary by announcing his “primary computer is a tablet.” Mark Dean, now IBM’s Chief Technology Officer for the Middle East and Africa, writes PCs are going the way of the vacuum tube and typewriter.

“When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline,” Dean blogs. “But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs,” he noted Thursday on the IBM-supported site.

Dean now uses the ThinkPad 700T slate computer. In 2005, IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo. “It’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era,” he said.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs earlier this summer, while announcing the company’s iCloud service, ‘demoted’ PCs to just another device. Soon afterwards, research giant Gartner announced PC sales were slowing as an increasing number of consumers and businesses took up tablets.

The first leg of the Post-PC era was the death of most desktops, in favor of the laptop. Now, non-Apple laptops and cheap netbooks are being jettisoned for iPads. The third phase of the post-PC era will end with users concentrating their computer needs in two devices: smartphones, such as the iPhone and tablets, dominated by the iPad, with a supplemental PC for heavy duty work.

  • gerenm63

    There are a fair number of us out here for whom the tablet just ain’t gonna work — at least until there’s a MacPad (a true tablet computer from Apple). Like many in my field, I use laptops extensively in the field for photo and video culling and rough editing, and then moving the results to a desktop for finishing.

    I also use laptops for multi-track field audio recording and rough mixes.

    Pads, by there nature, just aren’t going to cut it for that kind of work, and I don’t see that changing. Pads have limited I/O and storage, no real keyboard (crucial for logging and annotating), and for audio/video/photo acquisition and storage, they haven’t got the processing power or storage.

  • Andrew Russell

    I think his point is mainstream computing, which most of the readers here probably don’t do.  Workstations and laptops will be around forever, but more and more for niche or special needs users, not for mainline staff or consumer home use.  

  • Adam_Mckenzy1


  • Yaz Khoury

    Tablets will exist as long as PCs are around. Who else is going to write all the software code for the OS and apps? Imagine doing that on a tablet. You’d have a better chance teaching a chimpanzee Mandarin.

  • lals99
  • B066Y

    Completely agree. It’s already happening.

  • B066Y

    “Pads have limited I/O and storage, no real keyboard (crucial for logging and annotating), and for audio/video/photo acquisition and storage, they haven’t got the processing power or storage”

    People said the same thing about laptops a few years back.

  • David

    I added a bluetooth wireless standard keyboard from Apple and I can type like always.  As for processing power it depends on your needs.  Voice to text is just around the corner … We’ll see what that does.  I agree that a keyboard is more than nice.  So I have one too.
    The big issue is file sharing via USB…especially with traditional PC’s … which I use less and less each day. With iCloud syncing, this may also be an issue of the past, too.

  • gerenm63

    Which kinda defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? You’ve basically now built yourself a laptop that has to be carried in two pieces, and can’t do everything a laptop can… And, in many situations, voice-to-text is not an option.

  • gerenm63

    As I said, unless there’s something like a “MacPad”, they won’t be able to cut it in place of laptops.

  • michael dreves beier

    Well I think we are talking about devices used by the masses. The logic is clear – it’s evolution. I think much more about what this will mean to companies like MS to whom the PC deployments of today is the fundament of the business and innovations. Are they in good shape for the future – this being true? 

  • B066Y

    That all depends on what you use your laptop for. Most consumers could easily get by with a tablet (iOS or Android) as their main system. For people like us though a laptop or desktop is needed to code or do complex edits to photos/illustrations.
    At the moment that type of work is not conducive to a tablet. However, I see tablets taking over laptops eventually, though use of wireless accessories or a dock. Tech is always evolving to say “Pads, by their nature, just aren’t going to cut it for that kind of work, and I don’t see that changing” is shortsighted at best.

  • Neil Hartley

    Rubbish.  Most people will have a pad for sure, like most people have a laptop now, but they aren’t going to take over PCs, simply because most people need a keyboard to work.

    Unless you’re talking about something like my Asus Transformer, which is basically a laptop with a detachable screen that is a pad. (I’m calling it a lappad, tell your friends). 

    I’d not buy a tablet because I simply wouldn’t use it enough to justify the cost, but a laptop with detachable pad?  I’ll take that. And I did.  So far I’ve rarely detached the pad. 

  • Neil Hartley

    Oh, and IBM isn’t saying this.  Some guy who works for them is!

  • KC

    Oh no, the PC is dead again?
    Killed by the iPad this time?
    Uh huh…

    So when will IBM be replacing all their workstations and servers with iPads and migrating all their line-of-business apps and ERM suites to iOS?