Just because a technology has become commoditized doesn't mean that it has lost its vital edge or potential for innovation. What really seems to be IBM's (and now HP's) focus on life after PCs is an emphasis on developing and delivering the IT infrastructure beneath consumer and business computing.
Aug. 12, 2011, marked the 30th birthday of the IBM (NYSE: IBM) Personal Computer (PC) -- an event marked in numerous congratulatory and cautionary articles and blog posts. In the days since then, PC-related news has remained thick on the ground.
Most shocking, perhaps, was HP's (NYSE: HPQ) announcement that it was "looking at options" (i.e. sale or spinoff) for its PC business. Then a new report from IDC said Q2 2011 PC sales in China surpassed sales in the U.S. for the first time, suggesting a trend that would see China's full-year PC market pass by the U.S. in 2012.
So, is the PC market dying or very much alive? Are vendors like HP smart to be pulling back, or should they stay in the game?
Is Innovation Device- or User-Dependent?
One article considering the IBM PC's birthday was written by Mark Dean (now CTO of IBM Middle East and Africa), one of the dozen engineers who designed the first IBM PC. Dean noted his pride in those accomplishments but also admitted being proud of IBM's decision to leave the PC business and to sell that division to Lenovo in 2005.
That move, Dean said, reflected IBM's position at the "vanguard of the post-PC era" and said that while PCs will continue to be much-used, they no longer represent "the leading edge of computing" and are "going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs."
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