This just in: The tablet era is over

If PCs are allegedly dead, then so are tablets. Also dead: clocks, radios, and sundials

The PC era is over. How do we know this? Because IBM just declared it so.

Meanwhile, the world's No. 1 maker of personal computers announced it is bolting for the door, and No. 2 may be following it shortly, after its most recent anemic earnings report.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Join Cringely in bidding good riddance adieu to the HP TouchPad. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]

Also over: the era of clocks and of radios. And clock radios -- definitely dead.

But here's the funny thing about clocks: Once upon a time, clocks were technological marvels, expensive to obtain and requiring great expertise to build and maintain. If you wanted to know what time it was at night or during a rainstorm, though, that old sundial wasn't worth much.

Fast-forward a few centuries. Quick, how many clocks are in the room with you right at this moment? I'd wager half a dozen, easy -- one in your phone, another in your PC, in your microwave oven, your fridge, and so on.

Oh yeah: There's also a clock inside your clock.

Did clocks die? Obviously not. They just got smaller, cheaper, and totally ubiquitous. So did radios, for that matter. In the beginning, many families were lucky to own one -- a beast of a thing that sat in the middle of the living room, near the settee and the davenport. Now there's one in every car, mobile phone, and PC, as well as (yes) inside your clock radio.

Today's PCs are like yesterday's clocks and radios. They can be found in all kinds of devices -- your TV set, your microwave, your fridge -- and they'll continue to get smaller, cheaper, and more ubiquitous. They won't all have keyboards and mice, but they'll all be using a CPU to process bits in pretty much the same way God and Intel intended.

And that device you have on your desk or inside the walls of your office that lets you do things like surf the Web, write emails, make phone calls, and get work done? There'll be a PC inside there too.

The only things that are changing are the form factors and the profit margins. That's why HP is pulling out. It knows how to make a $200 profit by selling one CPU; it has no clue how to sell 200 CPUs that earn $1 apiece.

In that spirit, let me be the first to proclaim the tablet era over. Kaput. Finito. It is pushing up daisies, it has joined the choir invisible, it has ceased to be. It is an ex-era.

iPad schmipad -- it's just one of the many devices that will feature touchscreens and software widgets. Heck, Samsung already announced a refrigerator that runs its own apps.

Mark my words: Tablets are dead.

Just like PCs, clocks, and radios.

What else is dead? Post your mortems below or email me:

This article, "This just in: The tablet era is over," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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