Microsoft has made some hay and some hey with all those TV commercials which pit the Mac or iPad against a Surface this or that hybrid notebook tablet. At least, that’s what Microsoft and industry pundits want you to believe.
Where is Apple’s hybrid notebook tablet to compete against all those commercials? Apple seems to think that a notebook is a notebook, and a tablet is a tablet, and never the twain shall meet. If it were not for one thing– dropping sales– Apple could be declared the champion of restraint. Hybrids are not doing as well as everyone wants us to believe.
The Data Says
Throughout the world the growth in the PC market is coming from Windows hybrid devices; those cute and cheap little PCs which have a touch screen, run mostly full on Windows, and for which a keyboard is needed to get anything productive done because tendonitis.
That means hybrid devices are taking over the PC market, right? Well, actually, they’re taking over the PC market, while PC sales continue to drop, while the Mac– a decidedly non-hybrid device– continues to grow in marketshare, and now takes up more than half of the entire PC industry’s profits.
The bigger PC makers continue to be the bigger makers, but they cannot be happy about the obvious. It’s a mobile world customers just don’t need to upgrade their PCs as often as in the past because there’s nothing really new– other than touch screens, and detachable keyboards, and while those are becoming mainstream, they’re not really making any manufacturer any money.
The only anomaly to the game that’s being played out in the PC industry among touch screen hybrid device makers is the iPad’s slumping sales, now beyond two years in the making. What’s going on? Why haven’t hybrid notebook tablets helped the PC industry correct the slump? Why haven’t iPad sales increased?
To be straightforward and fair, the iPad outsells the Mac by a huge number, but the average selling price is much less, which means more iPads, but less profit from each one. Nevertheless, there isn’t one hybrid notebook table manufacturer that wouldn’t swap their own hybrid device business for Apple’s iPad business.
The iPad’s problem comes from a variety of factors. The first might just be functionality. The Mac is a mature device with a steady, ongoing, and predictable life cycle, even though device functionality hasn’t changed much year to year. The iPad’s life cycle is unknown and many of the early devices remain in use. That leads me to functionality. Not much has changed with PCs, even those with touch screens that still run Windows and require a keyboard, and not much has changed with the iPad, despite the new Pro line.
Another factor is fatigue. PC customers have upgrade fatigue. With little new functionality to tout, and with customers avoiding use of the touch screen vs. the keyboard, there’s just no reason to upgrade. Fatigue might be an issue with the iPad, too. Apple’s customers are loyal, but functionality does not always require so many devices. Besides, the price difference between a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro fully decked out is not much different than an entry-level MacBook which is more powerful and more capable; it’s just not as convenient.
Hybrid notebook tablets are not saving the PC industry from that fatigue, and the Mac isn’t showing any sign of customer fatigue, despite holding reign over the premium side of the market. There may come a time in the not too distant future when nearly all PC notebooks are hybrid tablets, but that doesn’t make them tablets.