The following is a guest post by Jordan Rejaud, Robotics Engineer and Android Developer. All views expressed are his own.
The expression “Post PC” has become a contemporary buzzwords of the High Technology industry. Coined by Computer Scientist David D. Clark in 1999, the term:
“Described a world in which the personal computer is less important because everything — TV, wristwatch, eyeglasses, toaster — has a computer-on-a-chip and everything is going to be connected to the Internet.”
Currently, “Post PC” is generally used to describe a world where “new computers” (smartphones, wearables, ect) will render Desktop and Laptop PCs as obsolete/rare as the “new computers” take over. This paradigm of “Post PC” has led to practices such as “mobile first”, where an enterprise will first focus on releasing its software for a mobile platform before porting it to PCs. I argue that PCs are not going to die anytime soon; Statista predicts a massive growth in tablet shipments into 2017, desktops and laptops are predicted to decline slightly, but still have a solid presence. “New computers” should not be perceived as replacements for PCs, but rather as complementary devices with unique characteristics. Certain experiences are better on certain devices over others, and this will change users’ patterns of behavior when using different types of computers. I used AOL messenger quite a bit when I was younger, now I use my smartphone to text. I check and reply to the majority of emails on my smartphone and only use my laptop when I am writing a long email. When I write computer code or watch a video, I am doing it on my laptop. The larger screen and tactile feedback, in my opinion, offer a better experience when doing those kinds of tasks.
Smartphones can be perceived as smaller, less powerful, “ever present”, and always internet connected PCs. Smartwatches are smaller than smartphones, less powerful, offer users immediate simple feedback and let users execute short, simple actions. Thus, I hypothesize that smartwatches (and similar wearables) will offer a superior experience to smartphones when:
It (the wearable) offers users the opportunity to complete a short, simple action quickly when a) a smartphone or other computer is not available or b) the 5-10 seconds to take your phone out of your pocket to execute the action is not practical.
I was reading an online thread pertaining to a new smartwatch that was released with a camera embedded in its strap. While the majority had lukewarm feelings towards the smartwatch, one fellow mentioned how he very much liked the camera feature. Even if it offered photos of far lower resolution than his smartphone, it gave him the opportunity to quickly snap a picture of his young children when he was playing with them and they were doing something cute. A two year old might not want to stand still and pose while you remove your phone from your pocket and navigate to the camera app, but with a camera on your wrist, you can quickly tap it and take a photograph “in the moment”.
In that situation, the 5-10 seconds to take the phone out of your pocket is simply not practical. Will smartphones remove the need for PCs? I think not. Will wearables remove the need for smartphones? Again, I don’t think so. These disparate devices will be used for what they are best at. For interactive wearables like smartwatches, I think checking notifications turning the lights in your house on/off quickly,* and other quick, simple actions are where wearables will thrive.
Do you think that wearables will render PCs obsolete, or will both coexist in the future?
About the Author: Jordan Rejaud is a Robotics Engineer and Android Developer with an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon. He’s built neat stuff including a prosthetic arm, smarthome control software for Android Wear, and a gravity simulator to test moon rovers. He can be reached at @JordanRejaud, and directly on his site JordanRejaud.com.
*Note: Jordan Rejaud is the creator of the CleverObjects app.