iPad is Apple’s Third Post-PC Device? Try “Apple’s Third Totally Reliant on the PC Blockbuster”!


Apple detractors love to talk about the “Steve Jobs distortion field”. I have never much bought into that. Sure, Steve jobs is a master showman. And yes, he is most likely among the more arrogant people living today. And yes, he does like to build hype when he brings out a new product or service. And, I will admit, he has been somewhat into overstatement at times. But then again, he’s got the stuff to back it up.

There is an old saying from here in suburban New Jersey that there are people who “have no cattle but a big hat”. :) The thing is, that’s not Steve Jobs. No, Jobs and Apple have lots of cattle and a huge hat that keeps getting bigger.

That noted, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jobs and his “Post PC” concept and have come to the conclusion that it’s just about the most disingenuous things he has ever said. Here’s why.

Before I jump in let me make this clear. I love the iPad 2. I think it is an amazing device. Yes, the majority of the initial reviews pretty much hit the nail on the head. The iPad 2’s individual updates are incremental, evolutionary updates. It is thinner. It is lighter. It is faster. Each improvement is once in its own right but it is the COMBINATION of the updates that make this a huge step forward. Yes, the iPad 2 is an amazing device.

Even before its release I was already using my iPad in places where I would previously have used a laptop. The iPad stands in quite well in almost every respect and, more than ever, it makes carrying my notebook with me redundant. For me it is a laptop replacement a good 70 to 80% of time. And that was BEFORE the iPad 2.

For someone like my mother or my in-laws the iPad is potentially even more important. For them I can see the simplicity of the iPad as a better choice than a traditional computer. After all, it is light, turns on instantly, and it is incredibly straightforward to use. My mom got a MacBook a few years ago but rarely uses it. I can pretty much guarantee that when she finally lets me get her an iPad she WILL use it… constantly.

For all these reasons I do in fact believe that the iPad may well be the first product in a “Post PC” era.


Steve Jobs and Apple do not get to be the ones to call it that. Yes, they created the first Post-PC device. Yes, he, and they, were the first to show the possibilities of a Post-PC era. But they are also the ones standing in the way of it actually taking off.

LittleSnapper 9

It COULD BE a Post-PC world but they have, thus far, intentionally prevented it from happening.

Think about it… if I get a new Android device I can turn it on, configure it and be going before I ever leave the store. Yes, I can use my Android device without EVER connecting it to a computer. It is PC-Independant.

I can do the same thing it with a Windows Phone 7 device. And I can do the same with a BlackBerry. Yes, with Android, WP7 and Blackberry I don’t need to have a computer available to me when it is time to first turn it on. Not so with devices running iOS.

Turn on your iPad 2 (or any iOS device) for the first time and what do you get? You get this…


Translation of this image?

“Congratulations on your new iOS device. We know you are anxious to use it but that’s not happening yet. You first need to go home, connect this device to your computer and go through the activation process. After all, we are happy you bought the iPad but we still want to make sure you buy our computers. Moohahahaha! Love, Apple”

Yes, Apple has, thus far, ensured that their third “Post-PC” device is actually one of the last “Totally PC-dependent devices”.

I love my iPad but let’s call it what it is. It remains a desktop or notebook-reliant device that is all but unusable if you do not have access to a computer running Windows or Mac OS X. That’s NOT Post-PC but only because Apple doesn’t want it to be.

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11 replies

  1. I agree Jobs sometimes goes over the deep end in his exaggerations and statements, but, as you said, he usually has the products and such to back him up so we all kind of give it a pass. But I have to say I think your use of the phrase “totally dependent” is a bit of an exaggeration itself.. You need the PC to activate and you need the PC to apply updates. You don’t need the PC for anything else if you choose not to use a PC. You can buy apps and content without using a computer. You can attach to servers without using the computer. You could even choose to never apply a firmware update if you wanted to, but that, of course, is probably not realistic, so let’s look at that for a minute.

    You need a computer for updates, but I think that’s actually a BETTER model than the OTA model that Android uses because it forces you into a situation where you perform a backup first. You actually have something to return to should the update encounter issues. WIth the Android OTA update you are screwed if something goes wrong!

    So to sum up – the iPad/iPhone is not “totally dependent” on a PC – the only “requirement” is the initial activation. Does a computer make the experience better? Yes – it allows you backups of your device and application and data in a very easy and seamless way. But other than the initial activation is it not required!

    So again, I agree that Steve Jobs definitely overstates things, but what you are saying here is a bit of an overstatement too, don’t you think?

    • Chris, while I have been prone to overstatements in other places I think I am going to stand by my comments and observations here. If you cannot begin using the device without access to a computer and you cannot update the device without a computer you are NOT in a post-pc era in the least. Apple has ensured that iOS devices are extensions of computers running a full Desktop/laptop OS by keeping them (iOS) reliant on such devices for activation and updating. That Is fine by me but you can’t call it post-pc IMO.

      • I would agree – it shouldn’t be called post-PC. But I also think it isn’t “totally reliant” either. I think both are misstatements. That’s the only point I am making, but it’s ok to agree to disagree on this one! :)

      • I think Chris has a good point, especially with the advent of cloud-based backup capability that we posted on here last week. Additionally, the folks at the Apple store can activate your device for you, obviating the need for hooking it up to a PC or Mac.

        All of which begs the question: what is the definition of a “post-PC device”? I know it might be pedantic, but if Apple can activate in-store, and you can backup in the cloud, does that mean a device can’t be “post-PC” unless you can update it without connecting it to a PC? If you could backup your system to a local drive rather than a PC, would that be enough?

        Now I’m with you: I don’t the iPad is quite “post-PC” yet. To me, things like not supporting Flash–even though I think it’s lame, it’s everywhere and really shouldn’t be ignored–make it less of a post-PC device. There’s some things I almost literally *can’t* do on it that I can do easily on a PC. Until there’s a 1-1 mapping of functionality, I don’t think it can be post-PC. My opinion only, of course.

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  3. Not trying to stand up for Jobs, but his “Post-PC” can be interpreted in a number of ways. Post meaning after the PC was invented not after it was useful. Apple was known for being a personal computer company and now they are not “just” that. I fact they took “computer” out of their name a few years back, I’m sure you remember. Arguably they may be better known for the iPod, iPhone and iPad that any PC they had a hand in creating.

    As for activation through iTunes, that is something people need to do, but I wouldn’t call it something that makes you “reliant” to that PC anymore than creating a Google account makes you reliant on Google’s computers. My wife and I both have iPhones. She has probably tethered for software updates a couple times, but otherwise as a big Pandora fan she rarely thinks of hooking it up to the mac. We have two kids that never hook their devices up because they can add any apps they want directly to their device over wifi. (I believe I read Apple is trying to get music execs to let Apple do this for music too) I back mine up a bit more. Although there is a lot of buzz about the “cloud” I like backing up something and keeping things local. Would I like a streaming service for my music from the PC? Sure, but I don’t want everything stored elsewhere, only to be accessed though working networks and signals. Service down or interrupted?

    The fact that Google offers all these services that use and share your information is a little scary to me. Believe me I would feel the same if Apple required you to store everything on their Mobile Me service for an Iphone 7 that is just a piece of .25 inch glass and negligible storage to get to that form factor. Post-PC to me is more about where Apple is and the products they offer.They are innovating new ways to use and enhance our computing experience beyond the mouse and keyboard. Everybody else is following.

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  5. iPad is Apple’s Third Post-PC Device? Try “Apple’s Third Totally Reliant on the PC… http://goo.gl/fb/w4PXy

  6. Just got an iPad last week (my first Apple product since my beloved Newton) and was incredulous when I realized that I couldn’t do a damn thing with it before getting to a computer, downloading iTunes and setting up an account. Compared to the start up of my smart phones of the last five years, this seemed like a very old fashioned procedure. It did not set the stage for me to fall in love with the device. The out of the box experience was not friendly to this user.

    • I have never been bothered by the need to activate or update by connecting to a computer. For me it is just the fact that Apple could easily eliminate the need to do so. They keep it that way I suspect because it works for their business model. That’s fine but it does prevent iOS devices from truly and filly going independent of a “parent device”

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