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Opening Arguments

The post-PC era

Wasn't hard to see this one coming, huh?

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The ailing personal computer market is getting weaker, and it's starting to look as if it will never fully recover as a new generation of mobile devices reshapes the way people use technology.

The latest evidence of the PC's infirmity emerged Wednesday with the release of two somber reports showing unprecedented declines in sales of desktop and laptop machines during the first three months of the year.

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PCs are going out of style because they typically cost more than smartphones and tablets, and aren't as convenient to use. Most PCs sell for $500 to $1,500 while the initial out-of-pocket expense for a smartphone runs as low as $99 while an array of tablets sell for $200 to $300.

Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs, whose company propelled the mobile computing revolution with the 2007 release of the iPhone, declared that the world was entering a "post-PC era" shortly after the iPad came out three years ago.

I still have my desktop, but I haven't sat down at it for months; it's chief purpose now is to house the wireless router that connects everything else to the Web. And my laptop only gets opened up a couple of times a week. My electronic bank account is housed there, so I still pay my bills with it; and sometimes I want a bigger screen on which to watch a video. Otherwise, the combination of smartphone and tablet provides everything I need. It's just too convenient to always have them at hand.

Man, sometimes I feel like a medieval peasant who thought he was still in the Dark Ages only to discover he had survived to the Renaissance. I still rememgber vividly when the newspaper I toiled at in Michigan City switched from typewriters -- ask your parents, children --  to word processors. The staff fought the change tooth and nail, and I was drafted to write a little pamphlet explaining the benefits to everybody. Waste of time. After about a week of being able to change their stories on the fly without whiteout or cutting and pasting rearranged paragraphs, all of them suddenly became enthusiastic supporters of the new order.

Ah, but I can imagine them still stubborn to this day. "Those dang kids and their smartphones. What's wrong with a good, old-fashioned PC? It was good enough in my day, by God, and it's good enough now."