Personal Computers: Defined by Possibilities

by Ben Bajarin   |   December 13th, 2013

There continues to be a great deal of mis-understanding within the discussion of the PC vs. the tablet. It is easy to say that no one wants a PC and everyone wants a tablet. The reality is that this is only partially true. But more importantly it does not tell the whole story of what is actually happening in the US marketplace and abroad. But for this article I want to focus on how we define a PC.

The biggest challenge facing the tablet narrative today is in its definition. I can show you charts and data of what is happening in the ‘tablet’ category until you are tired of staring at them. All those charts do is tell you that we are shipping–and will be shipping–many hundreds of millions of pieces of glass between 7-10 inches for years to come. It does not tell you what people are doing with these pieces of glass in the market place. More importantly, it does not inform us as to whether many of these pieces of glass should even be compared to PCs in the narrative as they so often are.

Which brings me to my point on how we should define and classify tablets in the PC narrative. A computing device should be defined by its possibilities. Even though someone may buy a notebook and only use it for games, videos, social media, etc., we will count it as a PC because of the possibilities of computing it enables. Said consumers may not be using it to do what many consider “personal computing” tasks but the point remains that said consumer CAN do more at any point they choose using the very device they purchased. This point is not true of all tablets being lumped together in the grand tablet category. In fact, I’d say that there are only a few tablets in the market today that should enter the conversation of personal computing possibilities.

This is why myself, and many others in the industry, are so adamant about the point of the PC and the role it plays in the future of computing. Where I may differ with other analysts is on how we define a PC or what we consider ‘real work.’ We agree we want to put devices in consumer’s hands that bring them the potential of computing, not limit their computing potential. The iPad’s limitation is not that it doesn’t have a keyboard and believing so misses the point. However, the Surface’s (and many products being designed like it) limitation is its necessity of a physical keyboard.1

The best way to think about many of the tablets being sold today are as accessories to PCs.

Tablets that are running a smartphone processor, outdated OS, and can only be used to watch movies are not PCs. Tablets stuck on walls at retail are not PCs. Even some tablets that are tied directly to media and commerce services but can also check email and do minor modifications to word docs, etc., are not PCs. The best way to think about many of the tablets being sold today are as accessories to PCs.

That brings me to the iPad Air. This product signifies in my mind a blank slate of possibilities for personal computing. The iPad is truly a blank slate of opportunities for the future of computing. In fact, it is not by accident that this image is used in Apple’s marketing of the iPad Air and that the iPad Air is metaphorically being compared to a pencil.

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If you saw this ad and just thought the pencil was there to show the scale of the iPad in terms of size you missed the big picture of this ad. The pencil, or any writing utensil, is all about possibilities. Before computers, typewriters, printing press and other technological innovations the pen and pencil were for centuries the key innovation for many societies which helped them progress. And so the iPad Air commercial ends:

and we can’t wait to see where you’ll take it next.

This statement is not about location it is about innovation. How will people use this unique computing form factor and create the future? Because that is the reality of what is going to happen. The next billion computing consumers are going to be touch computing literate not keyboard and mouse computing literate. The iPad has fundamentally altered the landscape for personal computing to one that brings more attainable possibilities of computing to the mass market. We will look back in 20 years and fully realize how central the iPad has been to the history of computing.

  1. I have to thank Harry Marks for this point. []

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • Shameer Mulji

    Only makes the idea behind a rumored iPad Pro even more exciting and interesting. Great article BTW.

  • James King

    You had me until:

    “The next billion computing consumers are going to be touch computing literate not keyboard and mouse computing literate.” – Ben Bajarin

    I’d never deny that the iPad is an amazing device and more than enough computer for the vast majority of people. But to make a sweeping statement like that looks past the vast amount of important work that is done with PCs.

    If you want to be a scientist or go into any major research field, the important work will be done on a PC;

    If you want to get into industrial design, mechanical engineering, architecture or any major field in which something is built, you will do it with a PC;

    If you intend on being in any field in which mass communication is essential, such as journalism, creative writing, advertising or any related field, it will likely be done with a PC.

    We may be barely scratching the surface of use cases for tablets but there are use cases for which I can’t honestly see tablets supplanting PCs. The tablet may become the “PC” for the masses but I think the work done by society, for society will likely always be done with what we traditionally know as the PC. There are advantages to the keyboard, mouse and trackpad that are easy to overlook when confronted with the convenience and utility of a tablet. But there is serious work done, the hard-core, gut work of society that can only and will likely always be done with PCs.

    The tablet allows us to now take computing where it was previously inconvenient or even previously impossible to go. But the PC is the workhorse of society. The modern information society was built with the keyboard and mouse. I have a hard time envisioning a society where those tools are no longer relevant.

    • Moeskido

      For now. This isn’t about upheaval. It’s attrition.

    • benbajarin

      James, I think you need to start thinking about the NO PC era. Something I will write more about. When I look at China and see what that society is doing without PCs it is amazing. This is a touch computing first society and I can’t underestimate how different their world looks from ours and from many who view computing through a mouse and keyboard lens.

      YES some jobs will require a PC. But my contention is that those jobs are very small in scale to those who will do just fine without a PC. As you have heard me say, the mouse and keyboard don’t go away but they become for every specialized environments. Not a big market.

      I challenge our readers to think long and hard about the idea of computing and everything we know about it being redefined with touch.

      • James King

        The PC is a staple even in China. Almost all of the major work there is done on PCs. They are designing those skyscrapers or doing city planning with tablets. Let’s not get into China’s hacking culture. Lenovo is a major player in China’s tech landscape as well.

        Touch enables new uses cases but it is hardly a technology suited for ALL use cases. I’ve envisioned trends that have taken upwards of a decade to play out. There is no reality that I can envision in which the keyboard, mouse, trackpad, stylus or any other tactile control becomes irrelevant.

        • benbajarin

          For a small majority you are right. For billions they won’t need one.

          • James King

            If you intend to work in society, you will need one. However, you may not have to OWN one.

          • benbajarin

            This is exactly right. Plus the biggest point about China is that most of those PCs in use there are shared not owned.

            I still maintain that touch will enter the productivity era in many work environments also.

          • James King

            I think anyone who has to work with a PC has an incentive to own one. Every PC user is a potential customer. It’s up to the PC industry to make a compelling case for why PC users should also be PC owners. I’ll grant that is a much tougher proposition with tablets being as good as they are and PCs, at least from a UX perspective, being so bad.

          • Shameer Mulji

            There was post by John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, that explained very well about tablets taking over the PC market;

            “The way I see the iPad taking over the mass market from laptop PCs is subtly. I think it’s more about people hanging on to old laptops for legacy tasks, spending their money now on new iPads, and then using their old laptops less and less over time. I can tell from my email and Twitter feedback that there is much skepticism among some of you about the iPad as a full-on PC replacement, but if you’re thinking about this trend as switching cold turkey, dropping all Windows/Mac usage in lieu of iOS in one fell swoop, you’re thinking about it wrong. It’s a subtle weaning.”

            http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/october

          • James King

            Gruber is one man stating his opinion. I’m doing the same thing. He isn’t more credible just because he has a larger audience.

          • lb51

            FACTS? Please provide data. Or, is it facts for what you believe are to be true statements. Possibly, your evidence is anecdotal, or best information supplied from blogs.

            My anecdotal story is my son who is 11 along with nearly his entire class prefer working on their iPads than a PC. He claims he works faster and that a mouse gets in the way. Those are his facts.

          • James King

            “FACTS? Please provide data. Or, is it facts for what you believe are to
            be true statements. Possibly, your evidence is anecdotal, or best
            information supplied from blogs.” – Ib51

            You are engaging in a “burden of proof” logical fallacy. Please reread my very first post. If you would like to refute anything that I’ve stated, you have access to the same resources as I do.

            Everything that I’ve stated regarding the position and use of traditional PCs in society is, indeed, fact.

          • lb51

            I think you should read what I just stated. “… facts for what you believe are to be true statements.”

            I don’t question your “FACTS” that you so well emphasized, but facts are only that when it is not mutable. But, you really do need data, tested data.

            A fact is not necessarily true.

          • James King

            And I think you should learn more about the rhetoric. Since my facts, by even your own admission, aren’t in question, they do not have to be quantified.

            If every fact in a debate had to be quantified or otherwise proven, debate would be impossible. That is why some statements are assumed to be fact when there is enough prevalence or commonality of experience to support them. For instance, “concrete is hard” or “water is wet.” This is basic rhetoric.

            In any case, a person could easily decide to argue whether water is wet. I don’t get caught up in that. If you want to dispute my facts, go ahead. But, until you provide compelling evidence to the contrary, they are indeed “true.”

          • lb51

            Do you mean I should learn to influence you or others, in such a way that I may come across not to be honest? Is that the same argument you give for “burden of proof” logical fallacy? You make these statement that actually apply to your argument style. Read again.

          • James King

            By “burden of proof” logical fallacy, I’m stating that you are indeed engaging me dishonestly by expecting me to quantify that which does not require quantification.

            Read again? Yeah, I’ll do that. /s :/

          • pk_de_cville

            Sorry. You have a major FACT that, in fact, is your erroneous belief.

            You believe that because “Almost all of the major work there is done on PCs.”, this means that PC marketshare will dominate tablet marketshare.

            I’ll give you this. Maybe 200M PCs are needed for PC type “major” work in China. However, almost everyone else will be using tablets.

          • James King

            “You believe that because “Almost all of the major work there is done on
            PCs.”, this means that PC marketshare will dominate tablet marketshare.” – pk_de_cville

            Is that what I “believe”? Looks like a straw man to me.

            Ben Bajarin’s implication was that the next billion adopters of computing technology would not need or likely ever use keyboards or mice (PCs, by implication). I simply reminded him that a tremendous amount of very important work is still being done with PCs, therefore, there was little likelihood that keyboard and mice use would become “obsolete,” even as a practicality. Keyboard, mice and touch will co-exist and complement one another and most people will be “literate” in all.

            “However, almost everyone else will be using tablets.” – pk_de_cville

            I don’t recall denying that. Please copy the section from any of my posts that states anything to the contrary.

          • pk_de_cville

            OK. Whatever you say.

          • Bill Smith

            Yes, and it’s even more lopsided when you consider applications that can benefit from “more than one” tablet used in concert.

          • James King

            People already use “more than one” monitor in concert. The visual area of the average PC monitor is substantially larger than a tablet and fits more information.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            Touch as it is used for technology will never be a superior option to tactile controls in and of itself.

            There is that failure of vision again.

            It is an absolute given that there were draftsmen who found it inconceivable that a computer would ever allow the fidelity of a drafting table.

          • James King

            Unfortunately for you, ergonomics as a school of thought happens to agree with me. Tactile controls allow a level of autonomic response that is not possible with touchscreens. Tactile controls are more biologically efficient.

            “Failure of vision,” huh?

          • Brian M. Monroe

            I am with you on the tactile input being superior for me as an input method but I do feel that has a lot to do with me learning at an early age to touch type on a keyboard. I will be interested to see what the preference will be for the generation that is growing up now in a post iPhone world. Will they be just fine using touch screens or will they prefer the keyboard and mouse input method.

          • James King

            People can habituate to pretty much anything. But they tend to gravitate to that which is most efficient in the absence of factors that may demand a trade-off. Touch as implemented on touchscreens requires an over-reliance on vision as well as inhibits the ability for automacity. This is strictly as it regards input, such as typing.

            For navigation, it is another matter entirely. Touch is MUCH faster than trackpads or mice for navigation, though still less ergonomic.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            And buggy whips were an absolute necessity to intercity travel.

            “Failure of vision,” huh?

            Complete and utter. That you think the mouse and keyboard are the pinnacle of “biological efficiency” makes it case closed.

          • James King

            “That you think the mouse and keyboard are the pinnacle of “biological efficiency” makes it case closed.” – His Shadow

            Love the straw man. But I guess the only way you can actually be correct about something is to have an argument with yourself.

            I understand if topics such as kinesiology, physiology, ergonomics and physics may escape you. They take an open mind to comprehend.

            You’re finally right about something. Case closed.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            Can’t be a straw man when you actually made that claim.

            They take an open mind to comprehend.

            You mean like your open mind where you believe that the progression of human interaction with computers has reached it’s zenith with the mouse and keyboard? Are you really trying to portray yourself as forward thinking by insisting progress in machine/human interfacing ends with a plastic typewriter?

          • James King

            “Can’t be a straw man when you actually made that claim.” – His Shadow

            “You mean like your open mind where you believe that the progression of
            human interaction with computers has reached it’s zenith with the mouse
            and keyboard? – His Shadow

            By all means, copy and paste the section or sections of anything that I’ve written claiming that “human interaction with computers has reached it’s zenith with the mouse and keyboard.”

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            I’m glad to see you backing off from your position.

          • James King

            The more you play this game, the weaker you become.

            If you think you’re doing me harm, you’re sadly mistaken. The more someone gives in to their weakness and insecurity, the more it consumes them.

            Please keep responding. I’m actually enjoying it.

          • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

            Game? You are wrong. It’s as simple as that. Touch and voice will eclipse keyboards and mice and your insistence to the contrary will be just as laughable as the people who flipped out over Apple removing the floppy drive. There is nothing inherently superior about the keyboard and mouse that will stop it from being obsoleted. The fidelity of touch and the UIs built around them improve daily. You insist otherwise then claim you didn’t. You trot out a laundry list of disciplines to argue the inherent superiority of the mouse of and keyboard then deny you are arguing for the inherent superiority of the mouse and keyboard. The physical mouse and keyboard are already irrelevant for millions of computer users for the overwhelming majority of their daily tasks. That will grow to tens, hundreds then billions of users. This will not stop and it will not change at any point in the future. The mouse will become an anachronism and no amount -ologies will stop it.

            I have a hard time envisioning a society where those tools are no longer relevant.

            Yes you do. That means nothing whatsoever.

          • James King

            “You are wrong. It’s as simple as that. Touch and voice will eclipse
            keyboards and mice and your insistence to the contrary will be just as
            laughable as the people who flipped out over Apple removing the floppy
            drive.” – His Shadow

            How can I be wrong about something that hasn’t happened yet? As of today, there are tens of millions of keyboards and mice in active use. You’re writing about a tomorrow that hasn’t come and will likely never come. That isn’t “vision” you have, my friend, it is voices in your head.

            “There is nothing inherently superior about the keyboard and mouse that will stop it from being obsoleted.” – His Shadow

            If you say so. :/

            “The physical mouse and keyboard are already irrelevant for millions of
            computer users for the overwhelming majority of their daily tasks. That
            will grow to tens, hundreds then billions of users. This will not stop
            and it will not change at any point in the future. The mouse will become
            an anachronism and no amount -ologies will stop it.” – His Shadow

            Really? Let me know when it does.

            “”I have a hard time envisioning a society where those tools are no longer relevant.”

            Yes you do. That means nothing whatsoever.” – His Shadow

            If you are so sure you are correct, then why are you being so insecure about it?

            Do you think you are going to “prove” something that hasn’t happened? If you are so certain, why beat a dead horse? You have no rhetorical argument, just a bunch of wishful thinking.

            If what you state does actually happen, the worst that will happen for me is that I’ll be wrong. But, if I’m correct, it will just be more confirmation of your biggest fear, that you aren’t as intelligent as you think you are.

            That suits me just fine. I welcome the future ;)

          • hannahjs

            Somehow, I vividly recall a scene from the 2000 movie Red Planet, starring Carrie-Anne Moss and Val Kilmer. After becoming stranded on Mars, the crew’s only hope of survival hinges on tapping power from an old, crashed Russian probe. They find and activate it using its animated Cyrillic touch screen panel — even though handicapped by the fat fingers of a space suit.

            The movie failed at the box office, but succeeded in enlightening me about the extreme importance of designing appropriate controls — user interfaces. The future will not brook lazy and complacent ideas, such as assuming that the keyboard and mouse, with all their moving parts, are somehow universal and eternal. How can anyone reasonably believe that, even on Earth, Qwerty keyboards — or even rational variants like Dvorak — or even touch typing — are here to stay? Simple touch is far more likely to persist.

          • jfutral

            “I think anyone who has to work with a PC has an incentive to own one. Every PC user is a potential customer.”

            Actually I am finding more people who are deciding that because there is a PC at work, they do not need to own a PC and have opted to stick to an iPad and an iPhone, my boss being one. They view owning a PC as an unnecessary complication. Of course this is just my experience, but as I’ve said before I am surrounded by a lot of 20 and 30 somethings non-technology workers on a regular basis. YMMV.

            So, while “… ergonomics as a school of thought happens to agree with me. Tactile controls allow a level of autonomic response that is not possible with touchscreens. Tactile controls are more biologically efficient” may be technically true, it is irrelevant.

            Joe

          • James King

            Wow, that’s a hell of a non sequitur you have there. So, because…

            YOU are “finding more people who are deciding that because there is a PC at work,
            they do not need to own a PC and have opted to stick to an iPad and an
            iPhone, my boss being one”, then;

            “… ergonomics as a school of thought happens to agree with me. Tactile
            controls allow a level of autonomic response that is not possible with
            touchscreens. Tactile controls are more biologically efficient” may be
            technically true, it is irrelevant.

            That is so comically egostistical, it’s almost tragic.

            So YOUR personal experience negates the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of keyboard enabled devices sold every year? Or the hundreds of thousands of keyboard accessories that have been sold for the iPad alone? Or the millions of keyboards, mice and trackpads sold every year? Or an entire body of study dedicated to determining the most efficient methods of work?

            Dude, you’re just trolling now. I think you need a nap.

          • jfutral

            Look. I think you are a pretty smart guy. I’ve made no personal attacks on you about trolling and have always tried my best to have level headed discussion with you regardless of how much we disagree. But I really am growing tired of the structural arguments. I am not here for “rhetoric” or formal debate. I’m here just to have conversations. We’ll disagree and make some points, but, whatever.

            But this was not a non-sequitor. It was completely in line with the conversation. And, yes, I completely couched my comment in that _I_ find people who are deciding having a PC at work is a disincentive to owning their own PC and YMMV. And I made no attempt to negate anything, although the research Techpinions has shown regularly here shows that all those “keyboard enabled devices sold every year” are on the decline and being overtaken by touch enabled devices. If you can’t see or admit to that trend, that ain’t my fault.

            Also, I made no sweeping arguments about the keyboard being irrelevant. I made a comment about your belief that ergonomics is somehow relevant to computing device purchasing decisions and the direction of computing. Obviously this is not the case or the ergonomically inferior tablet UI/UX would not be growing to the extent that it does. Heck, I even agreed that the keyboard and mouse are still important and that touch lacked a clear, usable interface for CAD, at least in regards to how I use CAD applications.

            Between Ben’s research and yours, Ben has more credibility. Sorry if that offends you.

            And sorry to have taken the time and interest to interact with you. I won’t make that mistake again. Obviously a nap is a far wiser use of my time.

            Joe

          • James King

            “Look. I think you are a pretty smart guy.” – jfutral

            No you don’t. You think I’m arrogant and completely unqualified to challenge the ideas or research presented by Ben Bajarin or the other Techpinions writers. However, that is far from the case. My knowledge of the industry is extensive and I’ve identified almost all of the major trends of the industry well before they became prevalent.

            The shift to mobile and UX as product differentiators? Yeah, I was pushing that almost a decade before it happened. Virtual machines? I was attempting to convince a struggling Microsoft competitor to enter the field a year before the people who started VMWare wrote their first whitepaper. SteamOS? Pushed the idea of a dedicated gaming/media OS as as a pup in the early 90′s, conceptualized a device similar to the current Xbox One at the same time. Paper, the super popular iOS drawing app? So similar to a whitepaper that I wrote over a year earlier that I actually considered legal action. Gaiki, Onlive, PCoIP? I outlined how the technology would work on a forum well before the first company was incorporated. I could keep going.

            I used to blog but I got tired of the more popular industry analysts getting credit for writing things that I had written much earlier. As it is now, there isn’t a great deal of popular analysis that I read that hasn’t been in my Twitter account well before.

            I’ve been having exchanges like this for years now. Here’s the pattern:

            I state something in contradiction to a popular analyst;

            Fans of said analyst rush to his defense;

            Long tedious thread ensues. Fans proclaim “victory,”;

            The industry trend plays out exactly as I state. No one is around to eat crow;

            Rinse, repeat.

            “But I really am growing tired of the structural arguments. I am not here for “rhetoric” or formal debate. I’m here just to have conversations. We’ll disagree and make some points, but, whatever.” – jfutral

            Honest conversations have rules. That’s how they remain honest. When you break those rules, you are signaling an intention to be dishonest. Them the exchange just becomes a glorified p##$ing contest. That’s pointless.

            “But this was not a non-sequitor. It was completely in line with the conversation.” – jfutral

            Indeed it was. The fact that you do not seem to understand that is why there is no value in continuing this exchange.

            “… Techpinions has shown regularly here shows that all those “keyboard enabled devices sold every year” are on the decline and being overtaken by touch enabled devices. If you can’t see or admit to that trend, that ain’t my fault.” – jfutral

            And this is what is called a “straw man.” You are attributing a position or an argument to me that I haven’t actually made so you can refute it. You aren’t debating or having an exchange with me, you are having one with yourself.

            Please find ANY portion of what I’ve written that contends with what you wrote. You won’t find it because it is only in your mind.

            “Also, I made no sweeping arguments about the keyboard being irrelevant. I made a comment about your belief that ergonomics is somehow relevant to computing device purchasing decisions and the direction of computing.” – jfutral

            The PURCHASING DECISIONS are what prove that you are incorrect. The HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of PCs that are purchased every year prove that you are not correct. The TENS OF THOUSANDS of iPad keyboards sold every year prove that you are not correct. The HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of accessory keyboards, mice and trackpads prove that you are not correct.

            Ergonomics IS computing. Ergonomics is the science of understanding how people work and how they use the tools to do it. Ergonomics and computing are inextricably intertwined. They cannot be separated.

            “Obviously this is not the case or the ergonomically inferior tablet UI/UX would not be growing to the extent that it does.” – jfutral

            This is a circular argument as well as a non sequitur. You obviously don’t understand the concept of the “trade-off.” That, sometimes, for SPECIFIC purposes, people choose the less ergonomic option for the greater speed or convenience for performing CERTAIN tasks. That does not make the more ergonomic option obsolete.

            As a matter of physics and biology, a keyboard and mouse is more ergonomic than a touchscreen. However, the speed of navigation and greater level of portability of mobile devices makes the lack of a keyboard and/or mouse a compelling TRADE-OFF. In other words, it is a compromise. That does not suggest an inferiority of keyboards or mice but a general desire for people to have computing devices under more circumstances. In actuality, the two barely correlate.

            I haven’t even addressed the economics of mobile devices which encourages a far greater rate of churn than PCs.

            To sum, you’re mixing apples and oranges.

            “Between Ben’s research and yours, Ben has more credibility. Sorry if that offends you.” – jfutral

            I’ve no desire to insult or otherwise disparage Ben but I’d make my knowledge of the industry against his any day of the week.

            I’m used to dealing with fans of analysts. It’s one of the worst kinds of herd mentality.

            “And sorry to have taken the time and interest to interact with you. I won’t make that mistake again. Obviously a nap is a far wiser use of my time.” – jfutral

            I agree 100%.

          • Joe_Winfield_IL

            Oh, the burden of an unappreciated genius. I thought about trying to provide gentle criticism, but I know you can’t hear anything outside the thoughts which originate in your own mind. With that in mind, a couple thoughts:

            -You snap at every person who presumes to interpret your words beyond the literal. How dare anyone extrapolate your thoughts. You have taken offense at this no fewer than three times in the current thread of debate. Yet when Jfrutal says, in so many words, that he thinks you are a “pretty smart guy,” you flat out call him a liar. You completely change his words to suit your own narrative. This level of hypocrisy is painful to witness.

            -”Ergonomics” is not a panacea. Yes, a keyboard and mouse are tactile in a way that touch is not. However, so is a knob. Or a guitar string. Or a plush teddy bear. Physical interaction is not categorically more valuable than the alternative if the tactile input method isn’t well suited for the application. You seem to think that simply because a keyboard is a physical device, it MUST be better for input. I agree that keyboards are superior for some uses, but not simply because they are tactile. It’s also worth pointing out that pretty much all tablets are compatible with keyboards and/or mice. This connectivity can bridge the gap when necessary for most power users.

            -You wrote a very lengthy essay qualifying your value as a commentator. You went out of your way to establish your expertise through a laundry list of “accomplishments” which mostly amount to predicting the predictable or having ideas that other people chose to execute. You thought about suing Paper because you had written a white paper on the topic??? Are you kidding me? They actually developed a product, and you think you have claim because you wrote a concept paper on the topic? If your ideas are so visionary, maybe you should spend less time writing and more time developing the next great thing on your own. Plenty of small companies are started every year by enterprising visionaries; we respect those who succeed because they actually take the leap.

            -You are acting as though you are being persecuted, but you are flatly wrong. Participation in the comment section here is voluntary, and you insist on going toe to toe on every banal comment. You have even chosen to go down the rabbit hole with semantical topics such debating the definition of words like “fact” or “non sequitur.” You make sweeping statements, and when asked to support your assertions, you flatly deny any need to cite your sources. You then demand a mountain of proof on others who dare raise an objection to your thoughts. Along the way, you dig in and essentially force your foe to do the same or abandon the fight. Again, hypocrisy thy name is James King. You might find that people take a less confrontational tone with you if you didn’t view every sentence as an opportunity for debate.

            -You could choose to be less certain of EVERY LITTLE THING YOU SAY. Most of the intelligent people I know accept that there is nuance to almost every issue, and that rarely is there a true black and white answer to a question. You speak with such authority as to demean anyone who would dare raise objection, exhibiting the fanaticism of a cult leader. The world is gray, and you would do well to accept the gradients of thought out there. You might even learn something.

          • James King

            “Oh, the burden of an unappreciated genius. I thought about trying to provide gentle criticism, but I know you can’t hear anything outside the thoughts which originate in your own mind.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I love white knights. :/

            “You snap at every person who presumes to interpret your words beyond the literal. How dare anyone extrapolate your thoughts.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            These are my original statements:

            “I’d never deny that the iPad is an amazing device and more than enough computer for the vast majority of people. But to make a sweeping statement like that looks past the vast amount of important work that is done with PCs.” – Me

            “We may be barely scratching the surface of use cases for tablets but there are use cases for which I can’t honestly see tablets supplanting PCs. The tablet may become the “PC” for the masses but I think the work done by society, for society will likely always be done with what we traditionally know as the PC. There are advantages to the keyboard, mouse and trackpad that are easy to overlook when confronted with the convenience and utility of a tablet. But there is serious work done, the hard-core, gut work of society that can only and will likely always be
            done with PCs.” – Me

            “The tablet allows us to now take computing where it was previously inconvenient or even previously impossible to go. But the PC is the workhorse of society. The modern information society was built with the keyboard and mouse. I have a hard time envisioning a society where those tools are no longer relevant.” – Me

            There should have been nothing controversial about those statements. I acknowledged the advantages of tablets (and touch by implication) but outlined why it was LIKELY that the important work of society would continue to be done with PCs. The facts are irrefutable and the speculative points are clear. So why was there a problem? Because I didn’t state it in a suitably submissive or humble way? Because I actually challenged an analyst on HIS sweeping statement:

            “The next billion computing consumers are going to be touch computing literate not keyboard and mouse computing literate.” – Ben Bajarin

            Really? There are hundreds of millions of keyboard and mice enabled devices in the world with millions more being sold every month. But MY statements are “sweeping”?

            Yeah, right

            “Yet when Jfrutal says, in so many words, that he thinks you are a “pretty smart guy,” you flat out call him a liar. You completely change his words to suit your own narrative. This level of hypocrisy is painful to witness.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I didn’t change his words at all, I denied they were true. I’ve had many instances of jfutral making ad hominem swipes at me on other threads. Not to mention that he spent much of our exchange attributing things to me that I did not state or imply. I don’t care what someone THINKS I stated, show me what I stated. If I stated something that could even be interpreted as implicit, then it shouldn’t be difficult.

            The truth is that I didn’t state anything that could even implicitly be interpreted as a disdain for touch technology. Hell, I use it on my phone everyday. I simply stated that keyboards and mice were not going anywhere, and they aren’t.

            Since you’ve decided to be a hero, I’ll issue you the same challenge:

            Please find any portion of what I’ve written that is or can be interpreted as a condemnation of touch technology.

            “You seem to think that simply because a keyboard is a physical device, it MUST be better for input.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Yes, they are. Measurably so.

            “I agree that keyboards are superior for some uses, but not simply because they
            are tactile.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            And what would those other reasons be, Joe?

            “It’s also worth pointing out that pretty much all tablets are compatible with keyboards and/or mice.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Don’t recall stating otherwise or even implying such. Please point it out if I have.

            “You wrote a very lengthy essay qualifying your value as a commentator. You went out of your way to establish your expertise through a laundry list of “accomplishments” which mostly amount to predicting the predictable or having ideas that other people chose to execute. You thought about suing Paper because you had written a white paper on the topic??? Are you kidding me? They actually developed a product, and you think you have claim because you wrote a concept paper on the topic?” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I was responding to this statement:

            “Between Ben’s research and yours, Ben has more credibility. Sorry if that offends you.” – jfutral

            No, Ben’s research really isn’t more credible than mine. If assumptions are going to be made about my background, than maybe a more complete picture is in order, which is what I provided.

            As for “accomplishments,” I rank writing a 25 page legal brief that got an entire class of laws changed as a more notable accomplishment, particularly because I’m not a lawyer or have even attended law school. I helped a lot of people with that one. I’ve got a few more under my belt of which I’m very proud. I’m just scratching the surface, but I wouldn’t want to appear arrogant, right? ;)

            I could care less about your respect. I’m taking the time to straighten you out so that you may actually think about your actions in the future.

            “You are acting as though you are being persecuted, but you are flatly wrong. Participation in the comment section here is voluntary, and you insist on going toe to toe on every banal comment.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            And the reverse is true as well. Why take offense to something innocuous? How emotionally fragile does one have to be to take offense where none is stated, implicitly or explicitly? I responded to keep the record straight, just as I’m doing now. I have no obligation to allow myself to be disparaged or my words misconstrued just so someone else can feel good about themselves.

            “You have even chosen to go down the rabbit hole with semantical topics such debating the definition of words like “fact” or “non sequitur.” You make sweeping statements, and when asked to support your assertions, you flatly deny any need to cite your sources.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            What facts are in question? They only need to be quantified if they are being challenged. No one is actually challenging what I’ve stated because there is nothing to challenge. So what they’ve done is set up straw men. For what purpose, I have no idea. The way I look at it, they could have spared themselves the embarrassment by not inferring anything more into what I wrote than what was actually written. Same goes for you.

            “You then demand a mountain of proof on others who dare raise an objection to your thoughts. Along the way, you dig in and essentially force your foe to do the same or abandon the fight.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            There was never any reason to “fight” to begin with. I didn’t state anything that was incorrect or particularly controversial. Why should I yield when I stated nothing that should have caused the response? If I have, by all means, please point it out.

            Sorry, dude, but a fight is a fight. I won’t back down in real life when I’m being unreasonably attacked, I won’t do it online either. If you don’t want to get mauled, don’t come at me unreasonably or aggressively. It’s as simple as that.

            “… hypocrisy thy name is James King.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I think you need a dictionary.

            “You could choose to be less certain of EVERY LITTLE THING YOU SAY.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Why, so that I can make people like you feel better? I only humble myself to the humble. The rest get my heel. I won’t allow my words to be attacked or misrepresented just to assuage someone’s ego. Period.

            “Most of the intelligent people I know accept that there is nuance to almost every issue, and that rarely is there a true black and white answer to a question.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Which is why I responded to Ben Bajarin’s statement to begin with. It was “black and white” and needed a bit of “grey.”

            “You speak with such authority as to demean anyone who would dare raise objection, exhibiting the fanaticism of a cult leader.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Yes, I do Joe. Is that your problem? I’m too “uppity”? Are you intimidated? Would you feel better if I was more submissive and less sure of myself?

            Don’t hold your breath.

            I’m not obligated to humble myself before anyone. You have no idea to whom you are communicating, I’m just a name on the Web to you. You have no idea what my personal experiences are. Who are you to determine what my level of humility should be?

            “The world is gray, and you would do well to accept the gradients of thought out there. You might even learn something.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I’ve already learned something. You seem to be both emotionally and intellectually insecure. Why bother posting to this thread? Because you think I’m a “bully” who needs to be put in his place? Who’s champion are you trying to be?

            If I make an innocuous statement and someone’s apple cart gets tipped over, am I responsible for their emotional state? Or should they simply not personalize what is apparently not personal? Sometimes, a person is stating exactly what they mean, no interpretation required. If that upsets you or anyone else, that’s unfortunate.

          • jfutral

            “I’ve had many instances of jfutral making ad hominem swipes at me on other threads.”

            I apologize profusely for doing so. I hate it when it happens to me and I do my best to not do likewise. Please forgive my mistakes.

            Joe

          • James King

            I didn’t really know how to respond to this because I’m not holding anything personal against you.

          • Joe_Winfield_IL

            Wow, that was lengthy. My objection is not with your opinions, but with the disrespectful tone you take in debate. You get incredibly defensive and aggressive at the same time. I am not demanding humility from you, but rather asking humanity. I took a hostile shot because I wanted to grab your attention.

            I really don’t have the time or inclination to respond on a line-by-line basis the way that you did. But here is just one to illustrate the points I was trying to make:

            “I didn’t change his words at all, I denied they were true.” – This is a semantical response. You put words in his mouth. He said he thought you were smart (an opinion I share. Your intellect is not on trial), and you called him a liar. I was contrasting:

            A) The ease with which you dismiss blunt statements as insincere and untrue, even though you have no way of knowing what he really thinks

            with

            B) The fact that you won’t suffer even a mild misinterpretation of your own words

            This contrast is what I identified as hypocritical. Disqus comments are a woefully inefficient form of debate, and much gets lost in the search for brevity. Your desire to “win” the debate has lead you to fight over the smallest grains of an issue rather than stick to the meat and potatoes. You may be right on the details, but so what if your opponent uses imperfect grammatical constructs or logic that is less pure than your own?

            Nobody is canonizing Ben Bajarin for his opinion here. Dissent is (or at least should be) welcome. But you demean the value of your opinions when they are bathed in disdain for the rest of the commentariat.

            Clearly there will continue to be PCs. I don’t know anyone who has said in absolute terms that there won’t. Reading through your measured response to me, it seems that your opinions are really not all that different from Ben’s or Joe’s. If that’s the case, why all the hostility?

          • James King

            “My objection is not with your opinions, but with the disrespectful tone
            you take in debate. You get incredibly defensive and aggressive at the
            same time.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            “Tone” is subjective. How you perceive my responses has nothing to do with how they are actually written. You will find them free of ad hominem attacks unless I believe the line of civil and honest discourse has been crossed. Then I will repay someone in their own coin.

            “”I didn’t change his words at all, I denied they were true.” – This is a semantical response. You put words in his mouth. He said he thought you were smart (an opinion I share. Your intellect is not on trial), and you called him a liar.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            When you respect someone’s intelligence, you engage them in an intellectually honest way. Jfutral spent most of the exchange “putting words in my mouth” that I attempted to clarify several times over. My statement was clear and required no interpretation. Most of the responses to my posts were simply straw men. Logical fallacies are not intellectually honest exchange or debate. To persist in that vein clearly shows that jfutral does not think I’m “smart,” at least not enough to engage me in an intellectually honest fashion. I should not have to accept my words being misconstrued or misrepresented just to make someone else feel intellectually superior and I won’t.

            “I was contrasting:

            A) The ease with which you dismiss blunt statements as insincere and untrue, even though you have no way of knowing what he really thinks

            with

            B) The fact that you won’t suffer even a mild misinterpretation of your own words” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            For A): I don’t point out logical fallacies in exchanges to feel superior, I point them out to show the level of honesty with which one engages me. Rhetorical principles were developed to keep exchanges honest because it is indeed impossible to know what someone is thinking. So I can only judge the words. I have no way of knowing what jfutral or anyone is thinking but I can judge the sincerity of his intentions based on their willingness to engage honestly and with respect to rhetorical principles;

            For B): I don’t mind anyone misrepresenting my words, I mind them continuing to do so after I have clarified them. Then you are attributing something to me that is neither accurate nor correct. There is enough dishonest discourse already, I don’t think I have to allow my words to be misrepresented so someone else can “win” an exchange, especially when the so-called point of contention is completely manufactured.

            “Your desire to “win” the debate has lead you to fight over the smallest grains of an issue rather than stick to the meat and potatoes. You may be right on the details, but so what if your opponent uses imperfect grammatical constructs or logic that is less pure than your own?” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            I’m not the one is isn’t “stick[ing] to the meat and potatoes.”

          • Joe_Winfield_IL

            I only engaged after reading thousands of words of back and forth, so the tenor of debate is the “meat and potatoes” as far as I’m concerned.

            I don’t know why I chose to get on my high horse; sometimes the best course is to disengage, and I probably should have stayed away here. But I read every word of your exchange with JFrutal (whom I don’t know and have no reason to defend), and I can tell you that your intended thoughts, as you are describing them now, were in no way clear to the outside observer. Your obsessive focus on the rules of engagement in debate clouded the many coherent points you were attempting to make. I suppose I’m as concerned with manners as you are with logic, which serves neither of us.

            You spent so much effort carefully citing minutia in an attempt to win, but it is a Pyrrhic victory. The conversation became a meta reference to the conversation, rather than a debate on touch vs. physical input. You may have won by wearing down any and all comers who disagreed with you, but in so doing, you lost.

          • James King

            “I only engaged after reading thousands of words of back and forth, so
            the tenor of debate is the “meat and potatoes” as far as I’m concerned.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            As far as I’m concerned, it starts from the beginning. Did I make a statement that contained information that was incorrect or intellectually dishonest? If you read my original statement, I think it’s clear that the factual parts are correct and the speculative parts are clearly delineanated.

            From that point, I have no problem with someone stepping in and stated that they think keyboards are going to fade away for good and I’m dead wrong. However, I DO have an issue with people equating my statement with disliking touch computing. The two ideas should never have been equated. I think touch is great, just not when it comes to input. It is awesome for navigation and way better than a trackpad or mouse. It’s much faster though far less ergonomic in the sense of muscle efficiency. It’s just a fact that it takes more muscle energy to use touch rather than using a mouse. But I never claimed that was bad. However, using touch for input is an entirely different animal. The method in which an individual types does not change however the sensory data provided by the finger tips is almost entirely lost when using a software keyboard. The contours, key spacing and feedback of a tactile keyboard allow the task of keyboard use to be controlled by the autonomic nervous system rather than the cognitive thought areas of the brain. So using a tactile keyboard is actually “easier” from a neurological sense.

            Once again, making that point doesn’t mean I am opposed to touch computing. It simply means that I think that, because humans are neurologically hardwired for tactile efficiency, people will continue to gravitate to tactile controls in the absence of compelling reasons to do otherwise. I think most people won’t have an issue with using tablets for most of their needs. But, if they need to do input-intensive tasks, then that’s when I think they’ll gravitate to the more traditional tactile implements. My original statement was to show that a great deal of important work is still being done using tactile controls like keyboards and mice, probably more than most people imagine. Touch is awesome technology but not for everything. Tactile controls will LIKELY remain around for a very long time, if not forever.

            If it had just been a matter of people disagreeing with that, I’d have not had an issue. It was when people started to conflate my point with hating touch technology that I started to have an issue.

            For the record, I don’t hate touch tech in the least, I just don’t think it is particularly well-suited for input-intensive tasks. That being stated, there are some who love it and have no problem using it for input-intensive work. However, that doesn’t mean that touch is equal to tactile from an ergonomic standpoint. As I stated before, humans can habituate to anything. There are definitely circumstances where touch for input is more CONVENIENT than tactile but, for the most part, it will always be a trade-off.

            “I can tell you that your intended thoughts, as you are describing them
            now, were in no way clear to the outside observer. Your obsessive focus
            on the rules of engagement in debate clouded the many coherent points
            you were attempting to make.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            Maybe, but fights get dirty. I can only articulate as best as I can under the circumstances. If I get dragged into an intellectual “street fight,” salient points can become obscure as a result. This is one of the reasons I focus on rhetorical principles. All any of my detractors had to understand was that 1) I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me on principle and 2) they don’t need to create straw men to have an honest disagreement with me. The didn’t need to act as if I hated touch computing to disagree with my premise that tactile controls, such as keyboards and mice, would always be essential. People don’t always agree. Indeed, I get that.

            “The conversation became a meta reference to the conversation, rather
            than a debate on touch vs. physical input. You may have won by wearing
            down any and all comers who disagreed with you, but in so doing, you
            lost.” – Joe_Winfield_IL

            How do you “win” a fight you weren’t interested in having in the first place? Yeah, I wore them down and I was the last man standing but the only pleasure I take from that is that rationality “won.” Contrary to popular opinion, I take no personal pleasure from it. I’d prefer for people to not take my words out of context to begin with. I think real discourse is rare and people allow their egos to get too wrapped up in making points. I guess the same could be said for me but, as I’ve stated before, I view it as protecting the integrity of my views. No one has a right to misconstrue or distort anything that I state in order to feel intellectually superior to me. I wouldn’t allow anyone to dominate me physically, I won’t allow anyone to do it intellectually either. I won’t step on toes if mine aren’t stepped on.

          • hannahjs

            Touch seems to be less than sanctified in James King’s own work environment, and I would hesitate to put myself at risk by joining him there, lest my notions be logically clubbed to death like baby seals.

    • Bill Smith

      We’re still a year away from having tablet/touch-first applications that do things better than for PC’s. At this stage, developers are mostly keeping the same metaphors. It’s only some drawing applications and a very few presentation apps that are saying “Why do we need all that? Let’s start with a clean slate.”

      You mention CAD/CAM/CAE. I can think of tons of ways that a larger (iPad Pro) tablet could be far better than a PC in those areas. Science? Ditto. In fact, I think multiple tablets are best for science.

      Mass communications? Even now, tablets are FAR better than PC’s. Have you used Flipboard or Twitter on an iPad?

      For journalism? Major news organizations are already posting correspondents in the field with an LTE-based iPad, letting them grab video and audio, do the editing on their device, and upload or do a live-broadcast without ever touching a PC…in many cases, out of necessity, since an iPad is easy to relocate at a moment’s notice. Dragging a PC into Afghanistan is foolhardy.

      I hate to say it, sir, but I believe you’re unaware of what’s already being done. You’re still thinking Office.

      The next generation of apps will break the stale metaphors we’ve kept for so long. Financial software won’t look like it does now. Word processing won’t look like it does now.

      The “Almost” no PC era that Ben mentions will occur as soon as developers stop trying to emulate PC’s and do “native” design.

      • James King

        “We’re still a year away from having tablet/touch-first applications that do things better than for PC’s.” – Bill Smith

        Be around in a year.

        “You mention CAD/CAM/CAE. I can think of tons of ways that a larger (iPad Pro) tablet could be far better than a PC in those areas. Science? Ditto. In fact, I think multiple tablets are best for science.” – Bill Smith

        Until that actually happens, that is speculative.

        “Mass communications? Even now, tablets are FAR better than PC’s. Have you used Flipboard or Twitter on an iPad?”

        This has nothing to do with the areas I mentioned, such as journalism, creative writing, advertising, etc. In fact, both are more accurately labeled as consumption mediums.

        “For journalism? Major news organizations are already posting correspondents in the field with an LTE-based iPad, letting them grab video and audio, do the editing on their device, and upload or do a live-broadcast without ever touching a PC…in many cases, out of necessity, since an iPad is easy to relocate at a moment’s notice. Dragging a PC into Afghanistan is foolhardy.” – Bill Smith

        This is a single specialized use case (it is also not yet a standard practice). The overwhelming amount of type generated is done using PCs or other keyboard enabled devices. The role of iPads has increased but is far from supplanting PCs.

        “I hate to say it, sir, but I believe you’re unaware of what’s already being done. You’re still thinking Office.” – Bill Smith

        I think you are confusing what is possible vs. what is actual. Many things COULD happen but certain things ARE happening. Your scenarios are mostly speculative or exceptions at this stage.

        “The next generation of apps will break the stale metaphors we’ve kept for so long. Financial software won’t look like it does now. Word processing won’t look like it does now.

        The “Almost” no PC era that Ben mentions will occur as soon as developers stop trying to emulate PC’s and do “native” design.” – Bill Smith

        Maybe. Anything is possible.

        • Space Gorilla

          I have to agree with Bill and Ben here, you’re really out of touch with what is already being done with the iPad (pun intended). Touch computing literate is a good way to phrase it. All I have to do to see the truth of this is watch my kids use their iPads. They are like wizards with the touch interface. They prefer it, and it isn’t any sort of limitation for them.

          • James King

            I just have to see my own kid give up her tablet because she prefers to have a keyboard for doing her homework and surfing the Web to understand the truth that tactile controls are not obsolete. I’m not “out of touch” at all. It’s just easier for people to believe that you oppose something when you may simply be trying to have perspective about it.

          • Space Gorilla

            We have ZAGG keyboards with iPad 2s, such a great combination. I agree that a hardware keyboard is better, and separated from the iPad makes it so flexible, my kids use the keyboard/screen combination in so many different ways. This is clearly the future of computing.

          • James King

            I actually like the concept of “hybrids,” tablets with removable keyboard attachments. IMO, the iPad + keyboard kicks the a$$ of pretty much any comparable PC hybrid. I agree a larger iPad would make that whole setup even better.

          • Space Gorilla

            Touch + separate keyboard is so good that I’m annoyed now any time I have to use my MacBook Pro, it feels old fashioned and dumb.

        • Bill Smith

          Have a look at http://petapixel.com/2013/05/31/sun-times-photojournalism-strategy-reporters-with-iphones/ which speaks of a prominent news paper. Modern journalism is done with video and an XLR microphone, not a guy with a pipe, a steno pad and a spare pencil tucked atop his ear. This is NOW, not imagination. From the BBC and CNN to CBS and Fox, most news stories are using a tablet or smartphone device at the point of origin.

          I’m going to stop there, because no amount of me prattling on will make up for you doing your research and proving it for yourself…

          • James King

            Read it when it came out. It’s not really making your point. Also, I think dropping photojournalists for reporters with iPhones is profoundly ridiculous.

    • jfutral

      “If you want to get into industrial design, mechanical engineering, architecture or any major field in which something is built, you will do it with a PC”

      As someone who uses CAD pretty much everyday, I hope this is not the case. A keyboard and mouse is a lousy interface. With the general computing tasks of PCs slowly being taken over by other devices, I could see and would likely even prefer a vertical or proprietary solution that may have a keyboard and mouse, but is not totally reliant on them.

      I am not convinced that a touch interface is all that much better for CAD, but maybe some hybrid that is _thought out_, not just plastered on like MS is doing with Windows currently.

      I haven’t found much DWG/DXF/Vectorworks solutions on the iPad yet that makes me want to surrender a PC for drafting. Somedays I even long for pencil and paper again. But it doesn’t mean I don’t long for the day some inventive, imaginative developer to come along and sweep the industry off our collective feet.

      Joe

      • James King

        I’m of the same mindset. I’d love to see more computing “appliances.” General purpose is not always the way to go.

      • Kizedek

        I’m not into CAD, but I like some of the shape-recognizing features already available in some of the better note-taking and mind-mapping apps. You hastily sketch a line or shape with your finger and the software turns it into a precise and editable shape with edit handles.

        If this could be developed upon for CAD, there could be some interesting potential. For example, I would immediately switch to actually creating Keynote presentations, DTP layouts and vector graphics entirely on my iPad (and not just editing them or engaging in less “precise” work) if the accuracy could be improved — eg., I would simply like a little pop-up to display dimensions and position as I pinch and rotate and move objects; and I would like it to “snap to” each and every little increment of dimension if I want that level of precision. Add that, and that is a big leap forward already. And that’s just a simple software and UI improvement.

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      But to make a sweeping statement like that looks past the vast amount of important work that is done with PCs.

      No, it’s not. It looks past the myopic conceit that everyone who has occasion to need or use a personal computer is designing jet engine parts or writing software. The number of people whose needs are fulfilled using personal computing devices such as the iPad is hundreds if not thousands of times the number of people whose jobs absolutely require a mouse and keyboard. That is simply the reality of the present. And as our computers get more powerful in the future, mice and keyboards will be no more cutting edge than the VCR is now. Voice dictation and touch interfaces will inevitably progress to the point that the mouse and keyboard will be as anachronistic as the buggy whip.

      I have a hard time envisioning a society where those tools are no longer relevant.

      That’s simply a failure of vision.

      • James King

        “The number of people whose needs are fulfilled using personal computing
        devices such as the iPad is hundreds if not thousands of times the
        number of people whose jobs absolutely require a mouse and keyboard” – His Shadow

        Really? I guess it’s an odd coincidence that the install base of PCs is massively larger than the install base of iPads. Maybe it’s an odd coincidence that PCs still outsell iPads by a more than significant amount.

        The great thing about speculation is that anything is possible. But it’s a pretty ineffective way to address facts.

        “That is simply the reality of the present.” – His Shadow

        Indeed it is.

        “And as our computers get more powerful in the future, mice and keyboards will be no more cutting edge than the VCR is now. Voice dictation and touch interfaces will inevitably progress to the point that the mouse and keyboard will be as anachronistic as the buggy whip.” – His Shadow

        Maybe. Or maybe the human race won’t magically shed the tens of thousands of years of evolution that makes them desire the additional information, including tactile, that helps them utilize tools effectively. Maybe voice and touch will co-exist with tactile controls. Maybe we’ll get hit by an asteroid and it won’t matter. That’s the cool thing about the future, you can envision it however you want.

        “That’s simply a failure of vision.” – His Shadow

        Mine or yours?

        • Brian M. Monroe

          The reason that the installed base of PC’s is massively larger than the installed base of the iPads is simple. They have been around much longer so they have a lot larger ecosystem.

          In regards to the PC outselling iPads, I assume you have seen the charts posted here on TechPinions, where they are showing exponential growth for tablets. Of course for a number of the people who create content I do see the PC still being their go to tool but for the people who consume that content and who are looking for the most simple way to access that content that will be done on connected devices. Meaning Tablets, Smartphones, TV’s with some sort of Internet connection. Most users do not want to deal with the headaches that come from owning a PC and having to deal and manage it all.

          I am with Ben Bajarin on this one. The next 1 Billion people to get online will not be using PCs. They have had the opportunity to purchase PCs but decided what the industry was selling did not work for them. Part of this is because these new users are coming from places that do not have traditional wired Internet infrastructures or even reliable power. So the traditional form factors just to do not work for them. Then you have the fact that many of these people can not afford to purchase and do not need all the features that come with PC software along with the fact that they do not have the IT infrastructures to support those PC’s. Just have a look at the innovative work that Amazon is doing on the Kindle for remote support. No need for a local geek or nerd to service the device.

          If you look at Adobe and Microsoft’s software for example, you will see that it is just to expensive and complex and bloated for what many of the next generation needs or wants. This is not to say that Adobe or Microsoft is going to go away at all. They will still be around for a long time to come. It is just that for these new users they are looking for simple appliance computing. Something that really only seems to be possible if you start out simple and then work backwards to complexity. Just as Apple has done with iOS and to a lesser extent what Google has done with both Android and Chrome OS.

          • James King

            “In regards to the PC outselling iPads, I assume you have seen the charts
            posted here on TechPinions, where they are showing exponential growth
            for tablets.” – Brian M. Monroe

            “Tablets” =/= “iPads.” The bulk of the tablets being sold are nowhere as capable as an iPad and definitely not comparable to PCs. Tablets are being lumped together into a group that provides a distorted view of their impact on the PC market. Ben Bajarin actually had a pretty good article about this recently.

            “I am with Ben Bajarin on this one.” – Brian M. Monroe

            I’m getting a lot of that today.

            “The next 1 Billion people to get online will not be using PCs. They have had the opportunity to purchase PCs but decided what the industry was selling did not work for them.” – Brian M. Monroe

            1) This hasn’t happened yet and;

            2) If they have jobs or do work in any of the fields I mentioned, they will indeed use PCs. And that was my point. The notion that there will be a generation of people who will not use a keyboard or a mouse is nonsensical. Will they BUY PCs? Maybe, maybe not. But will they USE PCs and by extension keyboards and mice? Absolutely. They aren’t going anywhere.

            The rest of what you wrote is speculative or an outright straw man. And the entire train of thought for everyone who has come at me is non-sequitur as was Ben Bajarin’s statement. “Using a tablet” =/= “not using a PC, keyboard or mouse.” Touch is relevant but people will continue to be keyboard and mouse “literate.” Very much so, in fact.

          • jfutral

            “1) This hasn’t happened yet and;”

            Well, right. Ben’s article is a forward thinking article based on his research and observations. That it hasn’t happened enough now, giving you credence to say what you say, does not change the facts Ben has at his disposal that show a change is occurring and people are coming up with new ways to handle old processes centered on devices that do not sport a keyboard and mouse.

            For someone who has proclaimed that you think new UI/UX’s can change the PC landscape and that a tablet is just a new form factor with a different UI/UX, you often seem awfully caught up in that “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome.

            Joe

          • James King

            “Well, right. Ben’s article is a forward thinking article based on his
            research and observations. That it hasn’t happened enough now, giving
            you credence to say what you say, does not change the facts Ben has at
            his disposal that show a change is occurring and people are coming up
            with new ways to handle old processes centered on devices that do not
            sport a keyboard and mouse.” – jfutral

            1) That is a logical fallacy. Ben Bajarin is an analyst who uses data to attempt to predict trends. That does not make him an expert on human interfaces and, quite frankly, considering the amount of use keyboards and mice have in the world, he really has no basis for believing that people will abandon them for strictly touch interfaces.

            2) I have to assume Ben Bajarin lacks understanding of ergonomics and human factors because he would understand the value of tactile interfaces and why they are biologically more efficient to use than touch as it is currently implemented in technology. He would understand that the human body requires data that is not just visual but SENSORY, that our body takes in information in specific ways. When we use touch interfaces, our fingers “go blind.” The removal of a sense (actual TOUCH) from the computing experience forces people to rely almost entirely on their vision and moves the process of input from the areas of the brain related to the autonomic nervous system to the cognitive areas of the brain. In other words, people actually have to think harder to use touch interfaces. They receive comparably little feedback compared to using actual tactile controls. The way the human body works when performing a task is that it requires as much sensory data as possible to perform a task as efficiently as possible. More information, less energy. The human body will expend extra energy provided the process improves the speed of a task or make a similar trade-off provided that it improves the level and quality of information it receives. Touch interfaces increase the visual area of smaller computing devices by removing the keyboard which improves them for tasks requiring high mobility. But it becomes a DISADVANTAGE biologically and ergonomically once a person is no longer mobile. This is supported by hard science. Wishing it away or ignoring it doesn’t change it.

            “For someone who has proclaimed that you think new UI/UX’s can change the
            PC landscape and that a tablet is just a new form factor with a
            different UI/UX, you often seem awfully caught up in that “we’ve always
            done it this way” syndrome.” – jfutral

            The human body is designed a particular way for particular reason. What I’m “caught up in” is the science of that. Understanding how the human body ACTUALLY works vs. how we think it works is what makes effective human interfaces possible. Misunderstanding how a technology is applied and then making a sweeping generalization that will ultimately prove to be inaccurate is a great way to feed the ego but a poor way to understand technology.

            What’s unfortunate is that many of the responses to my post seem to be coming from people who are unwilling to think for themselves and understand that Ben Bajarin’s position as an analysts doesn’t make him infallible. Whatever facts he possesses won’t negate basic human biology.

          • jfutral

            “The removal of a sense (actual TOUCH) from the computing experience”

            Kind of an ironic idea since we are talking about touch computing.

            Joe

    • Jon

      I think you are missing the point. My 9yr old daughter has only ever used a computer to learn to type. Everything else she does is on the iPad and iPhone. My 16 yr old has abandoned her laptop for her iPad, and, again, while she types 110wpm on her laptop, she types almost 80wpm on her iPad’s on-screen keyboard. She only uses her computer when she wants to type even faster, and to use her Wacom for drawing, but that’s only because we have yet to get her a pressure-sensitive stylus for her iPad. When this Wacom dies, I’m betting that’s what she’ll do. This is the next generation. They _will_ prefer their tablets to the stuffy laptop or desktop computers. I hope you are writing the software for them, because otherwise, you will become a dinosaur. I easily envision it, and crave it. Laptops are nice for me, but I’m getting long in the tooth. My kids are the next generation, and they have no desire for what I have.

      • James King

        Nah, I’m not missing the point. The resistance to what I stated is coming from people who have a distinct lack of understanding regarding the sciences related to human factors and basic biology. For some bizarre reason people think that tens of thousands of years of evolution is going to be reversed in a generation. That isn’t going to happen. There is a biological reason your daughter types faster with a keyboard and a biological reason why, if given the choice, she will always choose one for input intensive tasks.

        I’m afraid the one who is missing the point is you.

  • Mauryan

    When Television came, there was a belief that the radio broadcast would die its natural death. That did not happen. When the Internet came, newspapers’ demise was expected. When the tablets came, the end of the PCs is being forecast. New products expand the existing market. Tablets have only taken away some of the functionalities that people had come to rely on using the PCs before. Minus those functionalities, PCs have returned to their core capabilities – speed, data crunching and performance. And these functionalities are needed in the industrial world. Data acquisition, processing data, real time data gathering, graphics based design, CAD etc need power. PCs and servers will always function in that realm. For the common people who do not need these construction cranes, tablets would suffice. So PC market will stabilize and grow slowly as the industrial needs expand globally. May be PC prices must go up to a niche level where the users will buy them based on their computational needs and performance. Many companies will make both PCs and tablets because the industrial and consumer sides are beginning to get clearly demarcated. A small percentage of this set would be those who could use it in both realms. But the consumer market (small businesses, schools, colleges etc) will shift towards the tablets. Everyone will most probably have one PC at least at home or at office and will walk around with a tablet. I am surprised companies have not ventured into Wifi based projectors that communicate with tablets directly (may be there are some. But they have not become well known around yet). The next big thing would be in education and presentation based applications where companies like Apple can come up with high performance projectors that communicate directly with PCs, tablets and smart phones.

  • hannahjs

    I think you are seeing farther than others, and well stated. May you continue to resist the brickbats of those otherwise persuaded, compensated, or invested. A clear mind has a better sense of the truth.

    • hannahjs

      My life is a case in point. I have spent all of my adult life in software. Devices and I/O methods changed, evolved. I adapted, and continue to adapt, to the changing technological landscape. Religions erupted, fashions flashed up, economics intruded.

      My personal and professional mantra was always “solve the customer’s problem.” Platform wars and partisan positioning have been insulting and unnecessary obstacles to that.

      And it saddens me that after all those years I must still suffer spring-loaded arguments repeated endlessly about the shape of the workplace and how this or that will be eternal, and the rest ephemeral. Give it a freaking rest, I say, and accept change at face value instead of trying to argue for a dead canon.

  • klahanas

    I really appreciated this article. In fact, I wish it were longer.
    A few thoughts:
    -I definitely agree that a PC is classified because of it possibilities, i.e.-it’s capabilities. Some of these are quite fundamental. Some people may conflate fundamental as “old”, but that’s not the point. We don’t give up on our numerals, do we.
    -As a result, market share and popularity will not define a PC any more than they define a mainframe. I believe that too many PC’s have been sold, and people have been forced to buy more than they need, care about, or understand. They were driving thumbtacks with sledgehammers. But a thumb is a thumb and a sledgehammer is a sledgehammer.
    -The iPad Air ad draws a great analogy, but the visual is BS. I can hide a battleship with the edge of a coin if I’m far enough away.

  • JoeS54

    Anyone who claims the iPad Air is the future of computing is simply not credible. Making that claim about tablets in general is enough of a stretch. Claiming the iPad or Apple in general is going to become the standard is completely unsupportable by evidence. They’re making a lot of money by overcharging for the products they sell. They’re being crushed in market share on the mobile front by Android, and as always, by Windows on the PC front.
    The fact that tablet sales are rising and PC sales falling does not mean ones caused the other, or that tablet sales are happening at the expense of PC sales. Furthermore, tablet sales have yet to exceed PC sales in any year, and straight line projections of never-ending increases will fall apart as soon as tablet sales level off, which they will.
    Simply put, the article starts off with a promising intro, but then disintegrates into wide-eyed Apple boosterism, which is of no use to anyone beyond the bizarre and delusional Apple cult. Apple has made some decent products. Under Steve Jobs’s second tenure, they reinvented themselves as a consumer electronics company, and made big profits selling those devices at high prices, while commanding a small market share. But claiming that iOS is a credible platform for “personal computing” as defined by the last few decades is ridiculous.
    Even more strange is that the author has nothing more to point to than Apple’s marketing, and unseen “possibilities” that have yet to actually materialize. Meanwhile, there is the Surface Pro, which does all of those things and barely costs more. The article mentions it, in a way that is blatantly false. As the owner of a Surface Pro 2, I can say without a doubt that you do not need a keyboard to use it. It has an onscreen keyboard that performs much better than the iPad’s.
    That said, I do not think tablets as they now exist represent the future of personal computing. What the future requires is the integration of touch and traditional input methods at the OS level, and consistency across form factors. Microsoft is on the right track, but iteration has to continue.
    The limitation of a tablet is its screen size. In order to be small enough to be mobile, the tablet by definition will never have a large enough screen to satisfy users accustomed to 20″+ PC monitors and 40″+ flat screen TVs. With a tablet, you are always compromising screen size for mobility. And there will always be a need for a wide array of input devices. Touch will never do everything by itself.
    The iPad is a dumbed down, consumer electronics device. It runs Apps which in most cases are merely front ends for websites. It does not support many of the features that an OS must support if it wants to be a do-all device.