Forget 30th Birthdays, It's Now the Post-PC Era

By Ed Silverstein August 12, 2011

Today, August 12, is the 30th anniversary of the IBM Personal Computer. But IBM’s new Middle East and Africa CTO has decided to mark the occasion by saying we are all in a “Post-PC era.”

It’s more of a eulogy than a birthday wish from someone who was part of a small team that designed the first IBM PC.

In a recent company blog post, Mark Dean recalled that, “Little did we expect to create an industry that ultimately peaked at more than 300 million unit sales per year.”

“I’m proud that I was one of a dozen IBM engineers who designed the first machine and was fortunate to have lead subsequent IBM PC designs through the 1980s,” he recalled.

“I’m also proud IBM decided to leave the personal computer business in 2005, selling our PC division to Lenovo. While many in the tech industry questioned IBM’s decision to exit the business at the time, it’s now clear that our company was in the vanguard of the post-PC era,” he added, admitting it may be “odd” to make such a statement.

He also admitted that his “primary computer now is a tablet.”

“While PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing. They’re going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs,” Dean said.

Actually, he argues PCs are being replaced not by different devices but “by new ideas about the role that computing can play in progress. These days, it’s becoming clear that innovation flourishes best not on devices but in the social spaces between them, where people and ideas meet and interact. It is there that computing can have the most powerful impact on economy, society and people’s lives.”

“Over the past 10 years, in addition to leaving the PC business, we [IBM] also exited disk drives and printers. We invest heavily in R&D, about a $6 billion per year – producing major breakthroughs such as the question-and-answer technology in the Watson computer, which in February defeated former champions on the game show Jeopardy! At the same time, we’re building up our service and software capabilities through acquisitions, especially in analytics. Since 2001, IBM bought more than 127 companies for a combined total of $33 billion.”

Dean also noted his new role as CTO for Africa and the Middle East: “Thanks to improvements in the national economies and a flood of investment, more than one billion people have a chance for a better life, and corporations like IBM can help them achieve their dreams. I feel lucky that I got a chance to play a role in the PC revolution. I’m doubly lucky that I have a second shot at changing the world – by helping Africa fulfill its potential and helping Africans to gain the opportunities they deserve. That’s what progress is all about.”

In a related matter, TMC CEO Rich Tehrani recently blogged that we are now in a “post-OS world.”

This comes, Tehrani explains, as “companies like Google are going a step further and hoping to get rid of the operating system on the tablet, PC, smartphone and just about any other computing device you use.”

To find out more about IBM, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2011. To be held Sept. 13-15 in Austin, TX, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Mike McCarthy, vice president of Cloud Computing Services at IBM will be giving a Keynote speech on Tuesday, September 13, from 5:00pm to 5:30pm. Don’t wait. Register now.

Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO… follow us on Twitter.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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