It’s very fashionable to declare the death of things, if only because it can make you look very smart down the line.
But those claiming the personal computer going the way of the dinosaurs got to puff their chests out this week as two major tech deals added credence to the assertion that the age of the PC is waning. With Google adding hardware (and patents) with its acquisition of Motorola Mobility and Hewlett Packard Co.’s decision to explore spinning off its PC business, it’s clear that tech companies are focusing their futures on tablets, smartphones and software.
HP is the world’s largest seller of PCs right now. The news that it’s shopping around for someone to take that business off its hands and that it’s acquiring the second-largest software company in Europe, Autonomy, doesn’t bode well for what the PC industry thinks of itself.
HP is planning to keep its WebOS platform going, however, through licensing or other deals, which shows that while it’s not confident that its device hardware can move into this brave new world, it still would kind of like to have a hand in it.
The moves also show — forgive me, Cupertino-haters — that Apple is at the top of its game right now. HP said in its earnings call that it was aiming to be the “number two platform in tablets,” meaning it wasn’t even trying to take down Apple...but thought it had a chance at besting Google’s Android platform.
And it was Apple head Steve Jobs who made the definitive announcement that the world was entering a post-PC era when he introduced the “magical” iPad in June 2010. It’s a big turnaround for Jobs, who drove the movement to get the personal computer into homes and schools across America.
That said, while tech companies can anticipate customer desires and sometimes give them what they want before they want it, PCs won’t die overnight. There’s still a large, if shrinking, market for PCs for home and business, and tablets certainly still aren’t capable of matching the function of a good desktop computer.
What do you think HP’s decision means for PCs? Weigh in here or join us for a chat at 1 p.m.