My post-PC world requires a PC

I’ve been using an iPad for a few weeks and it has replaced my laptop PC for a lot of things: web surfing, Twitter, reading RSS feeds, watching video.

For these, it’s better than anything else I’ve ever used: my workhorse desktop at work, my personal laptop, my “Internet tablet,” my Android phone. It’s comfortable to use and easier to read on. I don’t have to be plugged in, and it’s battery lasts longer than I need.

But there remains a big gulf between the world in which “post-PC devices” exist and a post-PC world. There are many simple things that I, irritatingly, still need a PC for.

I don’t mean specialized video editing and transcoding, multimedia production, or coding, either. I mean pretty light-weight tasks.

An example: Every week, I take a simple CSV file, open it in a spread sheet, delete some columns, modify the formating of the dates and save it as a plain text file which I e-mail to a weekly newspaper. Every week, I have to turn on my PC for this specific, straight forward task. (My phone can handle the e-mailing of the plain text file more easily than the iPad.)

And, of course, before you can use Apple’s new magical post-PC device, you have to plug it into a PC running iTunes.

Clearly the iPad is a success; with sales of 15 million devices and $9.2 billion, and the spawning of competing tablets (some of which have actually shipped to customers), there can be no argument that Apple has produced a huge hit with the iPad. But the limits Apple places on iOS itself prevent it from taking us all the way to a post-PC world.

Update: This gets at the marketing-buzz-word-iness of “post-PC”:

When it becomes possible for the most studliest of power users to do their work with an iPad or other tablet of their choice, it won’t be because you can no longer run Microsoft Office and Photoshop on your desktop. It’ll be because you can run them or full-featured equivalents on the tablet.

And when you can run them better on the tablet—no compromises—then “post-PC” won’t be a marketing buzzword anymore.

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