How many ways do you use your Mac? If you’re like me or like many Mac users, there are dozens of practical ways we use our Macs. Do a quick and mental inventory of your Mac’s apps.
Could many or most of those uses we take for granted be supplanted by apps on an iPad? It’s already that way with my iPhone. My MacBook gathers dust. Are there legitimate reasons why your next Mac (or, the one after that) could be an iPad instead?
“The Next Great Thing”
Back in 1996, NeXT’s CEO Steve Jobs was asked what could be done to save Apple (long before Apple bought NeXT and Steve led a palace coup to take over the company).
“If I were running Apple, I’d milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth—and get busy on the next great thing.”
Mission accomplished. Since Jobs took over Apple in mid-1997, the company milked the Mac and the customer base for all it could—all the while working on a number of next great things.
True, the Mac is selling in record numbers, market share is growing dramatically, and the Mac is a vibrant line of powerful computing devices. Is the future of computing for Mac users yet another Mac?
Your Next Mac Could Be An iPad
The change will not happen overnight but it is happening already. For those Mac users who need what I’ll call power applications, the Mac has many good years ahead of it. Already I long for a dual octocore MacPro with a 27-inch LED backlit display.
At the other end of my usage scale is a wonderful aluminum MacBook which, because of my iPhone and iPod touch, gets used less and less each day.
For Mac users who don’t need the power and bells and whistles of a MacBook Pro or a desktop iMac or MacPro, the iPad may be exactly that next great thing.
The key to understanding the next great thing is to understand average users. We can lament the iPad’s lack of an iSight camera, or multi-tasking, or whatever, but the average users needs are less than technology pundits or Mac users who require their computers to perform powerful works.
The iPod was the original Apple whipping boy of gadgets and toys, completely ignored and lambasted by critics, yet loved by the masses. Similarly, the iPhone (and iPod touch) was criticized ad nauseam by gadget pundits as expensive eye candy, yet, 80-million customers later it’s the gold standard of smart phones.
The Four Reasons Why It’s iPad, Not Mac
Looking closely at what may be attractive to average Mac and PC users (as opposed to the rest of us, probably in the minority), I came up with a few reasons why the MacBook, at least, within a few years, might end up on the endangered species list.
First is convenience. Relative to even a lowly, plastic MacBook, the iPad is smaller and lighter with a longer battery life. It’ll tuck into a large purse or a small briefcase and easily into a student’s backpack. With Wi-Fi and 3G data connectivity, the iPad is a fully wired computer screen.
Second is price. The iPad is nearly half the price of a plastic MacBook (depending upon configuration). Schools, always in a budget crunch, will begin diverting MacBook purchases in favor of iPads. The price is low enough that many families will buy an iPad and keep their Macs and PCs. For awhile.
Third is apps. What new platform hits the streets with over 100,000 apps ready to run? Even the iPhone and iPod touch had very few apps. That rich ecosystem of add ons—applications, utilities, games—is a gold mine. I’ve purchased or downloaded over 200 App Store apps and games for my iPhone, and within a few months all those apps will have iPad versions with more functionality (and, probably additional cost to upgrade).
Fourth is usage. I don’t expect my iPhone or MacBook to do all that my desktop iMac can do, but I probably lean closer to the power user end of the scale, and I suspect that many of Mac360s readers are beyond average, too. But that won’t change the trend toward mobile usage, already exemplified by how we use an iPhone. The iPad will accelerate the trend. We’ll find more ways to use the iPad instead of the Mac notebook. Then we’ll move many tasks off the desktop Macs, again picked up by the iPad.
My assertion does not mean the iMac or MacBook Pro or MacPro is dead.
Far from it. What will change is how we use each device, how much of our computing usage gets moved to the more mobile iPad.
For what will be an increasing number, and eventually a majority of users, the basics of personal computing can be covered by an iPad. Email. Browsing. Writing. Reading. Games. Beyond that, iPhone apps will adapt to the larger screen of the iPad and bring more typical Mac functionality to the iPad—photo manipulation, audio and video editing, even video calling.
Sascha Segan in PC Magazine says Apple’s iPad Could Kill The Mac. I don’t think so. At least, not any time soon. But it’s worthy reading.
For those of us who long for ever more powerful Macs, they’ll be there. For the rest of the Mac (and PC population), their next computer may very well be an iPad.