When Steve Jobs coined the “post-PC” term, it was to indicate that general purpose PCs would decline as certain functions become replaced by devices that do those things better. Jobs was thinking about mobile phones and tablets, but the HP Sprout is another fantastic example of the post-PC world.
A quick primer for those unaware — the HP Sprout is a desktop that eschews the traditional keyboard and mouse for a camera and mat. The camera projects to the mat to form an interactive display. The camera can also be used to scan 2D and 3D objects into digital copies, which you can manipulate and insert into images and documents. While elements of the Sprout have existed before, HP brought everything together into something new and innovative.
HP deserves kudos for the Sprout. I’m writing in large part because these types of risks should be rewarded; and also because I can actually see a market for the Sprout.
While niche, this is a computer that should be in every media agency. It’s essentially a 3D scanner and a device for incorporating 3D scans into media. It’s a creativity machine. I don’t know how many media agencies there are in the markets that HP sells into; if every agency bought one, HP might have a nice little business.
That’s where the post-PC label comes in. This is at heart still a PC — it runs Windows and Office and you can easily attach a keyboard and mouse — yet it’s post-PC in that it’s a differentiated device built to serve a specific target market. More a Professional Computer than a personal one.
The computing industry is mature enough now that innovation should no longer just be about better and faster processors, but about better applications; designing a device for a single-minded purpose.
This is a Windows PC that even Steve Jobs would have liked.