It is becoming increasingly clear that the post-PC era that Steve Jobs talked about when he introduced the original iPad back in 2010 is different than what everyone expected. Instead of a future of tablets as PCs, it’s the smartphone which rules the post-PC era.
Yet, here we are, nearly 10 years after Jobs introduced the original iPhone, and Apple continues to push the iPad as if it were a good replacement for a PC. Now, when Apple’s Tim Cook and those cute iPad videos talk PC, they’re talking Windows PC. Not the Mac. Can the iPad become the new Mac?
Definitely, Maybe Not
Frankly, there are too many variables to provide a direct answer, affirmatively or negatively. So, the answer is Yes. And No. Or, Maybe. But, definitely, It Depends. It should be obvious that the iPad is a great PC for Windows PC users who do little more than browse, check email, listen to some music, but even if they subscribe to Microsoft’s Office, the iPad has them covered, iPad Pro or plain vanilla iPad.
We inveterate Apple watchers can point to the math and say the iPad is in decline. It is. Selling barely half what was sold just a few years ago must count as a decline. Yet, Apple still sells nearly twice as many iPads as Macs, and the latter are selling at record levels. That means the iPad is a product line worth some effort to shoehorn it into Steve Jobs’ vision.
That the iPad can replace a Mac is a foregone conclusion, specifically if you don’t do too much with your Mac, and those 1-million apps for iPad have a few you like, Microsoft Office and Adobe’s various apps notwithstanding. For a few years the problem has been obvious. The iPad was priced higher than a PC. That has changed with what amounts to iPad Air 3 and a starting price tag at $329. Them’s tantamount to fightin’ words from Apple.
It should also be noted that the installed base of iPad users is double to triple that of Mac users, and iPad still sells in numbers the Mac is not likely to reach. Ever.
The Problem Is…
Many of us certified Apple watchers have a laundry list of why iPad is in decline. Neglect from Apple is high on my list. The iPad could do more but does not. The trend toward larger screens on smartphones is another. Why bother with an iPad when the smartphone is fully representative of the post-PC era all by itself? While an iPad might be a good replacement for a Windows PC, especially when the user has lower expectations, far too many of us in the Mac community Just. Say. No. We may have iPads, but if push came to shove, most of us would shove the iPad out the door in a heartbeat and never blink an eye.
The iPad, fully tricked out, is within dollars of the price of the hot selling MacBook, which can do much of what a MacBook Pro can do, including run Windows, various flavors of Linux, and for which Mac apps require the extra horsepower and long standing capability of Intel Inside. And it’s not just the horsepower. It’s the capability. Mac apps do more. iPad apps do not. That’s why there has not been a mass migration from either Mac users or Windows PC users to the iPad.
The iPad is not a new Mac and won’t be until Apple makes the iPad do as much. But Apple is a hardware company, so that’s not likely to happen until Steve Jobs’ next arrival.