A PC is a Truck and Sometimes You Need a Truck

Jon Peddie / April 5th, 2012

Steve Jobs said of the PC as he was developing his post PC theme, “PCs are going to be like trucks; less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.” Well he was right, if not accurate. A whole lot of trucks are sold. In just the US in February 2012 612, 145 cars were sold, and 537, 251 light duty trucks were sold, plus an additional 225,621 Cross-over trucks. So more trucks sold than cars, and even if you add SUVs (97,825) to the cars, there were still more trucks sold in the US, and that’s not counting the bigger ones that chew up your streets and bring stuff to your shopping center or gas station.

No doubt about it tablets and smartphones are popular and selling well. What most folks seem to miss (or want to miss) is we do have cars and trucks, and motorcycles, and we will continue to have smartphones (motorcycles), tablets (cars?), and PCs (trucks?) Because Tablets are popular doesn’t lead to the conclusion that PCs suddenly aren’t. But if all you’ve got to sell is a tablet, well then the world looks a little different. And even if you have a truck to sell, if it’s getting hammered by the competition, but your car or motorcycle is showing a better margin and/or shipment level, well your interest and emphasis is pretty predictable isn’t it?

So Apple wants to promote the “Post PC” concept as a way of casting the PC in a no longer important, been there done that, obsolete technology. And because they are Apple, the only company capable of original thought or charisma, and the role model for all other computer, electronics, and phone companies, the term “Post PC” will be adopted, and heralded as the coming, the new era, the I’ll follow Apple into hell slogan of all the wantabees—which is everyone from Microsoft to the smallest Chinese cloner.

Actually, Apple makes life so much simpler for the rest of us. We don’t have to invest time and money in clever ideas, or marketing, we just have to wait for Apple to tell us what’s cool now and then copy it as best we can.

The PC/Tablet/Phone industry reminds me of a bunch of teenage girls, watching the cool girls in order to find out what is in and what’s out. Nobody wants to get caught with something that’s out and not cool, that’s worse than a zits breakout on prom night. And it’s a caution to the buyers of all this non-Apple, Apple defined cool stuff. If the company you’re considering buying something from is an Apple follower you should think twice about buying anything from them. It’s unlikely they are going to be a faithful supporter of that currently cool copycat thingie—you’d be better off buying the real deal from Apple.

But it’s tough not being Apple when it’s so big, so rich, and so trend setting. Right now the only company that seems to have a chance at standing up to Apple is HP. All the rest are still in the beige/black box PC world where this year’s machine looks just like last year’s machine and the year before it. Where this year’s big breakout product is an Ultrabook that looks like every other Ultrabook which in turn is trying to look like Apple’s Air. It’s pathetic.

So if the PC industry turns into the unexciting truck industry, regardless of shipment numbers, it’s its own fault for being lazy and scared – get some backbone PC makers, take a chance—do something original. You might find you actually like it.

Jon Peddie

Dr. Jon Peddie is one of the pioneers of the graphics industry, and formed Jon Peddie Research (JPR) to provide customer intimate consulting and market forecasting services. Peddie lectures at numerous conferences on topics pertaining to graphics technology and the emerging trends in digital media technology. Recently named one of the most influential analysts, he is frequently quoted in trade and business publications, and contributes articles to numerous publications including as well as appearing on CNN and TechTV. Learn more about Jon and his services at www.jonpeddie.com
  • “So Apple wants to promote the “Post PC” concept as a way of casting the PC in a no longer important, been there done that, obsolete technology.”

    Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook said that Post PC means that “the PC is no longer the center of your digital world.” They never said that the PC is no longer important or that it is obsolete.

    “And because they are Apple, the only company capable of original thought or charisma…”

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! You had a very nice article going here and you suddenly you decided that snark was the way to go?

    “Actually, Apple makes life so much simpler for the rest of us. We don’t have to invest time and money in clever ideas, or marketing, we just have to wait for Apple to tell us what’s cool now and then copy it as best we can.”

    Bitter much?

    “The PC/Tablet/Phone industry reminds me of a bunch of teenage girls, watching the cool girls in order to find out what is in and what’s out. Nobody wants to get caught with something that’s out and not cool, that’s worse than a zits breakout on prom night.”

    Or it could be that Apple created ground breaking, industry changing products in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air and it’s only natural that the rest of the industry needed to scramble to keep up.

    “But it’s tough not being Apple when it’s so big, so rich, and so trend setting.”

    Remember the good old days when Apple wasn’t big, rich and trend setting way, way back in 2006? And how did Apple become so big, rich and trend setting? Was it because they strung together the mega-hits of the iPod, iPhone and iPad?

    “Right now the only company that seems to have a chance at standing up to Apple is HP.”

    You’re kidding, right?

    Mr. Peddie, you had a very nice article going and then about half way through you suddenly went right off the rails. Maybe you should get a good editor.

    • benbajarin

      This is generally Jon’s tone when you sit in meetings with him. I thought his approach was very entertaining. Slightly sarcastic yet challenging, calling them lazy etc. Anyway the tone made me smile, little different than the normal type of content we have.

      • OK. Sometimes the subtleties of humor, sarcasm and cynicism dry up when put in print. Maybe it’s just me. But it still seems to me that the second half of this article entirely ruined the first half and the article as a whole. Perhaps other readers will disagree with my take.

        • Mahones403

          Completely agree. The second half made me dislike this article and backup my opinions of Appl fanboys even more.

      • mhikl

        Ben, the art of subtly and tongue-in-cheek can be tricky skills for some to execute, while as natural as sighing, for others. The same goes for interpreting. We have become a hurry-species, hurried to read, hurried to respond, too hurried for timely ponder. I don’t mind admitting I had to slow down my reading and then re-read Jon-boys article a second time. Second reading had me smiling.

        It is rare to find journalists or “reviewers”, as some prefer to be called, who have subtlety in humour at their beck and call. And Hurry makes it difficult to spot sneaky subtlety, so I suspect many writers choose the hammer over the feather as their pen.

        As are so many articles at T.P, this will be one I will return to read again. I’ve mentioned this before but the setup of your site make this very accommodating.

    • “Both Steve Jobs and Tim Cook said that Post PC means that “the PC is no longer the center of your digital world.” They never said that the PC is no longer important or that it is obsolete.”

      You’re absolutely right and it’s amazing how many bloggers, journalists and so-called analysts who claim to know what they’re talking about don’t seem to get or mention this simple fact.

  • It’s worth noting that other companies do try different ideas; one of the key differences between Apple and the others (beyond the obvious: simplicity, design, quality, and taste) is that Apple takes a long-term view.

    Perhaps HP had the wrong technology with WebOS, but the basic idea of taking control of its own destiny was well worth pursuing; instead, HP abandoned any hope of excellence in exchange for a slightly better balance sheet.

    • steve_wildstrom

      HP probably had the best technology available with webOS. What the company lacked was the will, fortitude, and patience needed to execute a difficult but fundamentally sound plan. More than anything else, webOS and touchPad were the victims of corporate politics–Mark Hurd bought Palm and Leo Apoteker wanted nothing to do with it. Todd Bradley and his team understood the importance of HP controlling its own destiny but they were undercut from above, if that’s physically possible.

  • shockme

    The point isn’t that trucks and SUVs don’t have a use and aren’t popular. The point is that other lighter vehicles can work for many many people. Even SUVs are only popular as vehicles because they are purchased as peak need vehicles. You don’t buy an SUV because you need the capacity everyday. You buy an SUV because you MIGHT need the capacity someday. The iPhone is the motorcycle or bicycle, the iPad is a sports coupe, the MacBook Air is a compact sedan, the MacBook Pro is an SUV or light-duty truck. The iMac is pickup with a full bed and maybe a crew cab. The Mac Pro is a commercial straight truck or a tractor with a single 24 foot trailer. But servers are like light passenger rail, Intermodal freight trains and shipboard Cargo containers.

    None of them are particularly useful without roads rails and oceans. All of them are just points in the infrastructure of a dedicated transport network. NONE of these vehicles or devices are discrete free-standing things anymore. They are ALL part of a system.

  • Uday Varma

    This is the first badly written article I have found on TP. As Falkirk stated writing an article exactly how we would speak to a person doesn’t work.

    Wholly agree with the above comments by shockme , Falkirk and John Daily.

    • benbajarin

      Thanks for the feedback.

  • mhikl

    Jon without an ‘h’ (my second name has one so I should know), your comment on beige is so profound. One might think (idea of beige) to be so obvious, but I think it has about as much obviousness to most as the colour of air. “Beige” brought back a happy memory.

    The five colour iMacs had come out and my bro-in-law was buying a new PC. Though he and wife have finally succumb to the cult of Mac, at the time he was PC obstinate in capital letters so I had to add a dig and warned him to make sure he picked a beige one. Still makes me laugh.

    Hard to believe beige is still mostly true in the netherworld.

  • I think that ultimately for 80% of the users a tablet is more than enough.

    The comparison between cars and computers is fascinating. Despite the fact that in the US trucks are still dominant, the market will change towards smaller, lighter, cheaper cars with a better mileage. The same can be said for computers in my opinion. The trend is clear in both examples.

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