Mac sales are down. iPad sales are down. iPhone sales are down. What’s going on? Let’s call this interim period a time when the technology world is in flux, where people are still trying to figure out how to integrate computers into their lives.
The Mac, no matter how many pixels or CPU cores it has or how fast the storage, remains much a relic from the last century. It’s still just a PC but one that has grown powerful, yes, but also complex, complicated, and cumbersome to use and manage. Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs, thought the iPad would herald the post-PC era, and for a few years it seems he was right as iPad sales exploded all over the world.
Alas, what goes up, must come down and iPad sales continue to drop with the general technology device malaise that encompasses the earth. Or, did it? Walt Mossberg:
Between the right-sized iPad Pro and the new Logitech Create, I think using an iPad instead of your laptop for productivity as well as consumption is finally a pleasure. If you can afford the price, and love the iPad, the solution is now out there, at Logitech.com, Apple.com, and Amazon. I love a good gadget.
In other words, Walt found the new generation PC. An iPad with the right keyboard, the latter a requirement for doing real work, but the former a much slimmer, lighter, more useful and user friendly way to integrate modern technology into a modern lifestyle. One device that does almost everything that most people need to do, sans the truck-like heavy lifting of a traditional PC, or the mobility of a smartphone.
Alright, different strokes for different folks.
In recent years, as much as I enjoy consuming information on an iPad vs. a Mac, I do not enjoy working on an iPad. First, the screen is too small. Second, the keyboards are not as good (and often, when you add a keyboard to an iPad, the resulting bulk and weight competes with a MacBook). Third, the applications I need and use for work are not available among the iPad’s half million or so apps. Fourth, iOS just doesn’t have the file management system available on the Mac (as much as we may criticize the Finder, there’s nothing like it on iPhone or iPad; and Apple has yet to convince traditional users that they don’t need a managed file system).
Finally, note this. Even as sales of all of Apple’s mainstay products slowly erode in number, the iPad still sells far more than the Mac. So it seems as if we’re betwixt and between the PC generation and the post-PC era where truly mobile devices– yes, it’s thin and light and powerful, but the MacBook is not as mobile as iPhone or iPad– rule.
I’ve looked closely at Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro. As iPad’s go, it’s bulky and heavy. As notebooks go, it’s thin and light until a keyboard is added, then it’s really little more than a MacBook; priced about the same but with lesser hardware, power, and capability. In the end, I can’t pull the trigger and go all in on an iPad except for casual consumption use. Yet, just as it is with Apple Watch, I see more iPad Pro models these days, including those with keyboards. It may be a good notebook replacement for some, but not everyone; not yet.
Maybe Apple sees around the corner better than its customers. Maybe the Mac doesn’t get the upgrades we want, deserve, and expect, because Apple is showing us a better way to the future and it’s the iPad. Maybe. But not yet.