In other words, another Apple device that Apple faithful would buy. Since then, the iPad has been improved to be faster, lighter, thinner, more powerful, and slightly less expensive. Ditto for the Mac.
The question is, ‘Can an iPad replace your Mac?‘
It’s The Keyboard, Stupid
Even the lowly MacBook Air at the entry level price of $899 is a powerful computer. $899 gets you 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of flash-based storage, an 11.6-inch display, 9-hours of battery life, great keyboard, and a very thin design.
Even better, the MacBook Air comes with plenty of free applications and the power and flexibility of OS X. The Mac even runs Windows better than some PCs run Windows.
All of that means you can run Microsoft Office, Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro, Adobe Creative Suite, and other powerful applications, starting at $899.
Comparably, the iPad Air comes with a 9.7-inch display, 16GB of storage, an onscreen keyboard, a GB of RAM, about 10-hours of battery life and a very, very thin design, all for $499– a full $400 less than the entry level MacBook Air.
But that’s not an Apple to apples comparison. While apps for the Mac tend to be of the powerful and complex variety, apps for the iPad less so, but far more numerous (over 500,000 apps specifically designed to run on the iPad).
The Hardware Gap
From a hardware perspective, upping the iPad Air’s flash-based storage to an equivalent 128 GB increases the price tag to $799, a mere $100 less than the least expensive MacBook Air.
While the iPad Air does not have an option for more RAM, very thin and Apple-like keyboards are available for about $100.
So, dump $899 into an iPad and you get what amounts to a MacBook Air, though a bit lighter and less powerful, and both devices run similar but a different class of applications.
Can an $899 iPad Air replace an $899 MacBook Air.
Most iPad users don’t need the extra storage in the maxed-out iPad Air, but a keyboard can come in handy and makes for a decent screen cover in a clam-shell design. Just like the MacBook Air.
From a pricing perspective, Apple has both devices perfectly priced to appeal to their respective targets (and Apple makes maximum margins on each)– the MacBook Air being a full on Mac with OS X and the option to run about any Mac-level or Windows PC app.
For the iPad Air, the app selection is even more broad, and the device a bit more convenient (sans keyboard) to carry around and use than a notebook (until you need a keyboard).
Apple has both devices– MacBook Air and iPad Air– perfectly positioned to capture the typical customer migration (add features, pay more money) without trampling on the domain of each.
Here’s another question I’ll ask in this venue, but not answer– “Will a larger screen iPhone replace the need for an iPad?“