The End of the PC?

I'm a Neanderthal sitting in the audience at the Wall Street Journal D Conference. It's a sea of iPads and I have a MacBook Air in my lap. Steve Jobs is talking about the end of the PC era.

"When we were an agrarian nation, all cars, were trucks. But as people moved more towards urban centers, people started to get into cars. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy."

One of the people most responsible for giving birth to PC's and to the personal computer industry, was saying: "It's over." I texted my friend, John: "Jobs is saying that iPads will replace PC's. What about for us? For people who write a lot."

That question was answered a few hours later. I ran into Chris Sacca at a conference party.

"I've switched to the iPad. Everything. I have a 3 book contract. I'm doing everything on the iPad now. Spreadsheets. Writing. Everything."

Incredulously, I asked, "You can type an entire book on an iPad??!"

"Watch me!" Sacca proceeded to demonstrate astonishing typing speed, using only his (two) thumbs.

In the morning, Katzenberg took the stage, and enthusiastically proclaimed that he'd given up his laptop and was only using an iPad. Speaker after speaker has confessed to Walt and Kara, "I just don't use my laptop anymore, now that I have an iPad."

In Walt Mossberg's March 31, 2010, Apple iPad Review, he predicts: "...this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop. It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades."

A million iPads sold in the first thirty days. Not such a big deal since enthusiasts, developers, and competitors all raced out to get one. The bigger deal is that, in the second thirty days, another million iPads sold. Apple can hardly keep up with demand.

Lisa Gold, a Seattle-based researcher familiar with my work on email apnea, told me recently, "With my iPad, I don't have email apnea. I sit anywhere, comfortably, doing whatever I want to do. And I breathe."

Children have a natural ease with it. Louis Swisher, age 9, loves his iPad so much I wondered if he was going to eat it. He lives in it: playing both actively and passively with youtube, music, racing games, reading and more.

In the early days of computing, both Steve Jobs and Jeff Raskin had visions of an information appliance. The iPad appears to express that vision from decades ago.

At D, you know someone is talking about the iPad when you hear the words: "It's magical."