Anyone who has found themselves in the role of family tech support person has been wishing for the post PC era for a long time. In fact, most PC users have used remarkably few features of the PC. Word processing, email, the web, and maybe a spreadsheet. They don't care about where their files are located, how the machine works or stays healthy, have never installed anything, or backed anything up. They are just not interested in the PC at all. As soon as these people got smart phones their PCs go days or weeks without being touched. Some overwhelmingly large percentage are these non PC users -- and for them the PC was a necessary evil -- they just wanted to send the email. So Apple is right.
Anyone needing to connect to a corporate network, or that uses databases, or that builds things (web pages, databases, programs), is going to need a PC and because they are the type of person that loves new technoligy they are probably going to want a tablet too. So HP is right.
According to Gartner, there were 93 million PCs shipped in Q4 of 2011. According to Apple, they shipped 15 million iPads in Q4 of 2011. They were just shy of HPs share (17 million) of the PC market.
Up until now, the iPad has been an extension of the users technology portfolio. From now on, the number of users with just an iPad (or other tablet) is going to go up fast. So Apple is going to win big and if Microsoft can get to the party with Windows 8, Microsoft will win big too. The people selling PCs like HP and Dell are going to see their marketplace rotate significantly -- and probably decline. All HP and Dell need to do is come to market with amazing Windows 8 tablets later this year.
It is going to be interesting.