Humans seem to love controversy. We pit one side against another at every turn from religion to politics to brands. Think Mac vs. Windows, or Android vs. iPhone but both of those are false equivalencies.
For more than a few years we’ve been hearing that iOS and macOS are on a collision course; at some point in the future iPhones and iPads will be more powerful than entry level Macs. That day is not coming. It is here already, the transition to the future of personal computing has begun. The winner? iOS and the post-PC era. The loser? The Mac.
Facts Is Facts
Here at Mac360 a number of the writing staff have argued the old cars vs. trucks meme that Steve Jobs ushered in a decade or so ago. PCs are trucks. Mobile devices are cars. It’s a good argument, even while both devices– iPads and the Mac– seem on a collision course. CPU power does not equate to operating system capability, but it seems that every generation of Apple-designed ARM-based CPUs grows in power, while every iteration of iOS grows in capability.
Indeed, the Mac was surpassed in sales by iPad years ago. Even now, with iPad sales seemingly bottoming out thanks to a very low priced model and highly competitive professional model, the iPad sells double what the Mac sells every quarter. Which of the two– iPad vs. Mac, and iOS vs. macOS– is the most powerful?
Like an eclipse, they both overlap in areas but somewhere down the line is a total eclipse.
For now, the Mac remains more capable– more powerful– with professional level applications not found on iPhone or iPad, and with the ability to run macOS, Windows, and various flavors of Linux simultaneously. The Mac is a powerhouse machine. But at the entry level where the MacBook Air and MacBook live and professional level applications seldom used, a battle rages. New iPad Pro models have benchmark capabilities that exceed MacBook and entry-level MacBook Pro models. For well over 200-million iPad customers, the need for a Windows-based PC or a Mac has been diminished thanks to growing capabilities in iOS.
Meanwhile, one can argue that the Mac has become a truck, unable to be used to its capability because 21st century computer users just don’t need all that horsepower and complexity, not to mention the towing and hauling capacity. In the post-PC era, handheld devices are the cars that most of us prefer to use.
How long before iOS and macOS collide?
Sorry, the collision has already happened. iOS won. A billion of Apple’s customers use iPhones and iPads while barely 1/10th that number own Macs. But a collision of platforms is not just installed base; there’s also the capability issue, but I’m going to call that a total eclipse. Or, a collision. The Mac and macOS have more power, but iOS and iPad (and, to an extent, iPhone) have greater usability. Unless you’re using a Mac for work, the twins of iPhone and iPad rule daily use and usability.
Does that mean the Mac and macOS will fade into the sunset? Perhaps, but if so, many years down the road. Apple’s attention is on the future and that is handheld, mobile devices– not the legacy PC platform, of which the Mac is a member. Macs will improve, become more powerful, but remain complex to complicated, while iOS devices– and future devices from Apple– will become ever more capable and more usable.
This sea change has already begun and it will not stop.