Steve Jobs has made a point of saying that Apple now gets a majority of its revenue from “post-PC devices.” That inevitably raises of the question of “what does that mean?”

Ironically, iPads and iPods depend on PCs for key functions. So, at least in one respect, “post-PC” does not mean “no need for a PC.”

Forrester Research predicts that U.S. consumer laptop sales will grow at a compound annual growth rate of eight percent between 2010 and 2015, and desktop sales will decline only slightly.

But a post-PC era does mean that computing is going ubiquitous. In part, that means computing happens everywhere, all the time. It also means more context-aware computing, aided by sensors like accelerometers, gyroscopes, and geolocators in smartphones and tablets.

Computing also is becoming more informal. In contrast to PC interactions with a formal start and finish time marked by booting up and shutting down, always-on computing on smart phones and tablets is occuring more often in interstitial time, when people are waiting, or between other activities, says Sarah Rotman Epps, Forrester Research analyst.

Unlike desktop computing, laptops, netbooks, and tablets are used in the the living room and bedroom.

The mouse and keyboard paradigm relies on an abstracted interaction with content. Touchscreens enable direct physical manipulation of content. Cameras with facial recognition, voice sensors, and motion sensors permit an even wider range of physical interaction with devices, where a user’s body and voice become the controller.

In other words, “post PC” means a change in ubiquity, interface and temporal dimensions. Computing gets used everywhere, all the time and for applications that can use voice and gestures as the primary interface.

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