Is this why Apple keeps saying “post-PC”?

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Looking at the numbers, it’s difficult to argue that the iPad is anything less than a success for Apple. The company sold more iPads — 15.4 million — than any traditional computer maker sold PCs in the final quarter of 2011. What is debatable, however, is whether the iPad will take us to the “post-PC” era, as Apple calls it. A former Apple director of 10 years suggests that the PC isn’t going away, agreeing with Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, who recently said the same.

So why the recurring mention of that pesky “post-PC” phrase, then? Michael Mace, who also worked as a VP for Palm after his Apple days, made the observation on his personal blog:

I’m sure I’ll get some push-back from people who disagree, but I think the whole ‘PC era’ meme from Apple is self-serving hype.  Of course they want to convince you that the world is shifting away from a market where Apple has less than 10% worldwide share to a market where Apple has well over 50% share.

I’ve previously said that trends suggest we are moving to a post-PC era, but never because of Apple’s overall market share of the PC market, which actually continues to grow. My thought is that PCs aren’t going to suddenly disappear, but people will continue to opt for capable tablets or hybrid devices in the place of future, new PC purchases. The mobile market is shifting traditional tasks away from PCs of old, and for people who need a PC occasionally, they will likely be able to access one remotely.

Apple is simply calling out the post-PC era because it has successfully transformed its business lines ahead of the curve and before its peers. Android is a worthy contender — more in smartphones than tablets, so far — but by and large it has followed the lead of iOS, almost as if it were a reaction and built out of the fear of being left behind.

Mace also focuses on what’s important about the new iPad. No, not Bluetooth 4.0 — although I suspect that will help bring new wireless devices to market sooner rather than later.

It’s about the high-resolution display and the usual tight integration between Apple’s new software and the improved hardware. I can’t disagree here, although I’ll know for sure when my iPad arrives later this week.

When all is said and done, Mace makes one last salient point worth noting: How will Microsoft respond to the iPad? We know the answer is Windows 8, but there’s still an open question as to how well the platform will do on tablets. Perhaps, Mace notes, we’re not exactly on the cusp of a post-PC age, but instead, a post-Microsoft era. Ouch!

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