With HP cutting its losses on the Touchpad and PC markets, the “post-PC” era begins with Apple firmly in the lead. The evidence is overwhelming: HP’s exit leaves Apple as the only major consumer PC maker with increasing profitability. Yet even with its leg up on the competition, Apple is shifting away from PCs. Over 70% of its previous quarter’s revenue was wrapped up in iPhones and iPads; it’s fair to expect that percentage to only increase in the future.
However, I disagree that the failures of HP, RIM and other companies in the tablet sphere make a long run Apple victory inevitable. In actuality, the post-PC era is divisible into two eras. The first is a transitional, “tablet as entertainment” era that we’re in now in which Apple clearly dominates. Yet there’s a final, longer term “tablet as PC” era of the future where I doubt a single company will control the market.
Technology gives us an amazing breadth of information, from email and Twitter to task lists on OmniFocus. Yet the sheer size of what’s out there comes at a cost; the decisions of what to tackle next can be overwhelming, stressful and, given the frequent contextual switches between programs, inefficient.
As a result I’ve lately found myself turning less and less to news sites, RSS and Twitter to catch up with what’s happening. Instead I’m increasingly relying on information sources that eschew decisions, pare down content, and make a conscious effort to slow the user down. Two iPad reading apps fit this goal perfectly: Zite and Palimpsest.
Both apps intentionally limit what’s on screen at once, emphasizing a “lean back”, more methodical browsing pace. Zite packages information from the user’s Twitter and RSS feeds in a magazine like format; each page rarely has more than five or six articles. Palimpsest takes this limitation even further, presenting only a single curated article to the user at a time. The experience is a welcome contrast to the “lean forward”, rapid scanning behavior that predominates nearly all RSS and Twitter clients.