It’s a Post-PC, Post-Spec World but in the Real World Specs Still Matter

By his own admission Steve Jobs is quickly moving us into a “Post-PC” era. This new era is not “post computer” era. Rather, it is an era in which computers look less and less like desktops or laptops and more like… well iPads and iPhones. (Perhaps a better name for this new era in computing would be “PC Rev2”.)

This process of moving into PC Rev2 will be sped up when iOS 5.0 is released this fall since it finally makes it easy to cut the cord. Yes, iPhones, iPod touches and iPads that have been slaves to Macs or Windows PCs will finally sync and update without physically needing to tether them to a host computer. (I updated both my iPhone and my iPad to the new iOS 5.0 beta the other night over the air and am thrilled to say that it worked perfectly and, for once, didn’t require a full restore when the process was complete.)

But that isn’t the only change Jobs and Apple are bringing our way. No, they are also moving us into a “Post Spec” world in which the actually device specifications matter less than the actual user-experience. In this new era you can no longer pass judgment on a device based upon numbers such as processor speed and physical screen size or features such as USB posts. No, in this new era the specifications matter less than the actual EXPERIENCE of using the device. Windows and Android need to learn this lesson. Need proof? Look at ANY Apple commercial side by side with a Verizon Android commercial and you will immediately see the difference. The Apple commercial evokes emotion while the Android commercial has a son slurping a Slurpee and talking specs. The former works, the latter… Not so much.

Yes, iPad marketing shows people “experiencing” the “magical” device and leaves it to such sites as “iFixIt” to break down the device and reveal the actual components and specs. In other words, don’t look at the numbers. Looks at the experience of the device. (Can’t you just hear the bandit from Blazing Saddles? “Numbers? Numbers? We don’t need no stinking numbers!”)

This post-spec era can also be seen in the new MacBook Airs. Read the actual specifications on the box and you will think- “$1000 for a netbook? Seriously??”. Start using the diminutive laptop and you will join the chorus of “Numbers? Numbers? We don’t need no stinking numbers!”

Seriously, who would have ever thought a laptop with a 1.6ghz processor would blow the doors off any computer I had previously used? Who would have dreamed that an 11″ netbook-esque laptop could conceivably serve as one’s ONLY computer. And yet last generation’s MBA is serving Elana quite well and I am seriously considering going to the 11″ current MBA full-time.

So yes, we are in a new era in which specs matter less than ever… Or do they?

Compare the specs on the 11″ MBA versus the 13″ version and you will see that one major difference is the SD slot. The 13″ has one while the 11″ doesn’t. This is Judie’s biggest complaint with the 11″ MBA. I’m not thrilled about it but when she commented that it was a big deal for her I replied “Yeah, but it is easy enough to bring a USB adapter along and go that route. It is a simple workaround.”

So that particular spec doesn’t matter. Until it does.

Elana and I are in the midst of a six-day road trip on the Jersey Shore. (No we are not doing an “In the footsteps of Snookie” vacation.) Before we headed out I took some product shots so I could do some writing after a day on the beach. I grabbed my new 11″ MBA and we headed out. I went to load the pictures the first day only to realize that, oh yeah, the 11″ MBA doesn’t have the SD slot I had come to rely upon in the 13″ and I had neglected to bring an adapter along. I was stuck. The pictures were on the SD card and I had no way to get them off. That seemingly unimportant spec suddenly became an issue. And at that moment I realized- we may be in a “Post Spec” Era but specs… they still matter.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.