A PC is a Truck and Sometimes You Need a Truck

on April 5, 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.