Change is an interesting phenomenon. Like it or not, change happens. Sometimes change can be overwhelming. Other times, change can seem excruciatingly, painfully, slow.
The Mac brought massive change to the world of computers. The iPod brought change to how we listen to and manage music. The iPhone changed how we use cell phones. If this trend continues, Apple’s iPad may signal another era of dramatic change.
Should we begin to prepare for the day when our Macs and Windows PCs are no longer the center of our computing universe? Yes.
The Computer vs. A Computing Device
Why do we buy a Mac or Windows PC? Computers are complex beasts; devices which handle numerous, and sometimes, highly complex tasks—from work to email to browsing to music to videos to photos to telecommunications.
In other words, we use our full-fledged, do-everything computers, whether notebook, netbook, or desktop, to get things done.
That’s the essence of computing today. The iPhone’s impact on computing as we know it is substantial. In essence, an iPhone is a Mac or PC in your pocket.
It’s not quite as functional, or powerful, or capable, but it makes up for some of that loss by providing a staggeringly rich variety of apps, utilities, games, and connectivity that rivals our notebook and desktop behemoths.
I have a desktop Mac, a MacBook, and an iPhone. My Mac desktop usage hasn’t dropped much since my first iPhone a few years ago, but my MacBook usage has dropped considerably; perhaps 70-percent. The iPhone is more mobile, and most of what I use the MacBook for can be supplanted by iPhone functionality.
Screen Real Estate, Meet Mobility
Much of what I use my desktop Mac to accomplish cannot be handled by an iPhone. Screen real estate and powerful applications are valuable and have an important place in my daily life. Enter the iPad. It’s nearly as mobile as an iPhone, yet provides more power, more capability, and more screen.
The iPad should be as easy to use as an iPhone, therefore, appeal to a larger number of users. Yet, the iPad can also be the window to a desktop Mac via screen sharing (already capable in the iPhone, but the screen is too small to be effective).
In other words, the iPad’s mobility and larger screen make it a window to your Mac (or PC). Screen sharing on a tiny device is cumbersome, yes. But the larger and faster the mobile device (the iPad), the better the sharing experience.
Usability Defeats Complexity
It’s arguable that Apple’s devices (Mac, iPod, iPhone) define the sweet spot between usability and capability vs. capability and complexity. iPhone apps continue to gain usability and capability.
The trend toward capability and away from complexity is becoming more pronounced.
If the iPad shipped with a video camera (ala the Mac’s iSight camera), and ran a portable version of iChat or Skype, I’d buy three in a heartbeat. One for me, one each for my parents. I would consider additional purchase for other family members (approximately half are Windows PC users).
Why? The iPad will be easy for family members to integrate into their daily computing routine (email, calendar, browsing, address book, etc.) yet provide a substantially improved personal communication capability.
In other words, as the iPad’s capability increases, the need for a Mac or PCs complexity is reduced. Is it time to prepare for the day when only power users have Macs and Windows PCs, desktop or notebook?
Yes. This change is happening now, as evidenced by the rapid integration of iPhone-like smart phones and similar devices. The iPad, and copy-cat devices, will hasten the demise of the general purpose Mac or PC.