The heart of an article I read this week said that Apple is grooming the iPad to take over the Mac? Is that true? Of course not. But it doesn’t take much effort to see the lines of functionality converging.
Does Apple want to kill the Mac? If it meant making more money, perhaps, but I deem it unlikely for a variety of reasons. Of today’s computing devices manufactured by Apple, tablets and smartphones eclipsed the Mac in sales and profits years ago. So, why is the iPad getting more power and capability while the Mac is getting thinner and lighter at the low end, but ignored at the high end. It’s all about trucks and cars.
Cars Rule, Trucks, Too
Steve Jobs once described how a PC was like a truck, the popular vehicle of choice in a more agrarian society. Supposedly, today’s smartphones and tablets are cars; nimble, fast, smaller, more mobile, less capable than trucks for heavy loads.
Funny thing. True story. In the U.S., trucks sell more than cars. Look it up. So, was Steve Jobs’ analogy about trucks and cars wrong? No. Most of the trucks sold in the US are considered ‘light trucks’ which often double as passenger vehicles. I like to think of them as the MacBook and MacBook Pro models.
Trucks outsell cars, but PCs don’t outsell mobile devices, but the analogy still works because Apple is not interested in killing off the Mac in favor of the iPad. After all, iPad sales are dropping while Mac sales are growing. But the trend is clear. Larger, heavier, more multi-purpose devices (Macs) are losing favor– proportionally and relatively– to smaller mobile devices. The iPad still sells more units than the Mac.
What’s happening at Apple is clear. The future is at work. That means Macs will get thinner, lighter, and more powerful per square inch, but retain capabilities that go beyond mobile devices for many years to come. Meanwhile, Apple continues to grow the iPhone and iPad’s capabilities which, at least here and there, begin to equate with similar functionality that most of us extract from a Mac notebook.
In other words, the lines between the two– at the high end for iPad Pro, and the low end for MacBook– are beginning to blur. The blur is already in effect with the price tag and hardware. An entry-level MacBook starts with 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and a 2304×1440 Retina display. For $1,299. Keyboard included.
Compare that piece of kit to an upper end iPad Pro which tops out at at $70 less than the MacBook, but comes with 256GB storage, 4GB RAM, and the keyboard is an extra $169.
That’s a blurred line.
Functionality is a different story. Apple decided years ago to forego running OS X on a handheld mobile device because the interface between the two platforms was so different. Today’s devices, thanks to Windows 10 and Microsoft’s push toward notebook and tablet hybrids, has also blurred how devices are used. The iPad is a pure tablet. Microsoft Surface and other similar devices are hybrids. Windows 10 may not work as well on a tablet device with a touchscreen as iOS, but that double-duty has garnered a place in the market.
No Death For You
With apologies to the Soup Nazi, any considerations of the Mac’s death are premature. Very premature. Apple’s once flagship product owns an ever increasing share of the PC market, most of that on the premium side of the fence, and that means half the industry’s profits. Will Apple kill that off? No.
What’s changing is how we use our devices. It could be argued that the average PC owner, whether Windows or Mac, didn’t use much of the device’s total capability. Not everyone needs Photoshop, Microsoft Office, or Final Cut Pro. But everyone needs Mail, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, iTunes, Photos, Messages, and FaceTime (with many using Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) and those apps are available on all Apple’s devices.
While the convergence of functionality is clear, the lines between the devices– the high end for iPad Pro, and the low end of MacBook– are becoming blurred. That friction point will become even more confusing next year when Apple releases an A11 powered MacPad.