Apple iPad: Dawn of the Post-PC World?

Last Updated Apr 24, 2010 6:54 AM EDT

In yesterday's post "Could the iPad Save the World", I explained how Microsoft's decision to trash 20 years of operating system design wisdom has resulted in a computing environment where hacking is simple, making cyberterrorism into a very real threat.

Almost as if to emphasize my point, a news story broke today that the popular McAfee anti-virus program was crashing Windows XP computers. Anti-virus programs are a perpetual headache (crashes, problems running programs, etc.) because they're simply an attempt to patch security into a system that's inherently insecure.

With that in mind, I've got a question for you. Why don't you have an anti-virus program on your cell phone?


The answer is simple: you don't need one because the closed architecture makes it almost impossible to build a virus. And that leads us back to the iPad, which is -- gasp -- designed like a cell phone.

As I pointed out in my previous post, it's almost impossible to put a virus into an iPad, and even if you do, it's only temporary because the virus can't change the operating system. Now, let's just imagine that consumers and businessfolk start using iPads (and the inevitable imitators from other vendors) more heavily than laptops.

For consumers, that idea is not all that big a stretch, frankly. Most of what consumers do with a laptop (or indeed with a stationary PC) can be done easier with an iPad. Stuff like casual word processing, email, watching videos, etc. is far easier on an iPad than a PC.

But what about business users. Well, it turns out that two of most respected figures in the world of sales technology think that the iPad represents the future of mobile computing. Check out these blog entries from Gerhard Gschwandtner (publisher of Sellingpower Magazine) and Mark Benioff (CEO of Salesforce.com).

Both of these very smart guys see the iPad as a fundamental change in the way that people interact with computers -- and see the PC as hopelessly outdated. It's not hard to find other pundits who are going in that direction, providing they can extract themselves from the PC-centric worldview in which they learned about computing.

So here's the deal with "saving the world." If the world goes the way of the iPad, and consigns the PC to the dust-bin, over-time cyberterrorism will cease to be a threat. And we'll have a computing infrastructure that resembles the cell phone infrastructure rather than the PC/Internet infrastructure.

Needless to say, that would have its own problems and frustrations. But it would be far more secure, and far less likely to be exploited by terrorists and criminals.