The iPad Pivot, Apple Slaying Sacred Cows

A few weeks ago, it seems like a year ago now, I wrote about how the rumors of iPad getting a mouse/trackpad would be a pivot from the iPad’s original positioning. I still believe that is true. However, there is a better point to make now that we have seen the new iPad Pro and the new Keyboard with a trackpad for iPad.

Overall the new iPad is a nice upgrade. The LiDAR camera is interesting as it provides a new level of capabilities in-depth mapping, and we can expect that to come to iPhones before too long. But the talk is really about the new Magic Keyboard.

I have wanted a better iPad Keyboard since day one. I’ve tried practically every third party solution out there time and time again and never found one that was right. When it came to tablet-like devices, I have always agreed with my colleague Carolina Milanesi that Surface Pro sets the bar with their keyboard, not their trackpad but their keyboard. That is why I’m extremely interested in trying the new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro.

The biggest benefit to choosing my iPad to my Mac was portability. When I go out to meetings or travel, etc., I like to travel light, and the iPad has always been the best device fro Apple that combined productivity and portability. Note, I said the best device from Apple because, as I highlighted in the article last week, I’ve also been using Surface Pro X more in travel situations. Granted, no one is going anywhere now for some time.

A key point to re-emphasize from my article a few weeks ago on iPad evolution is this:

I wrote last week, that I have been living in a Windows world and using both a 15′ Surface Laptop and a Surface Pro X and the more I become comfortable with my new workflows on Windows the more I like the Surface Pro X tablet functions as a companion to the laptop. Being able to seamlessly move from one device to the next and keep my workflow intact is efficient. This is counter the experience I have using Mac and iPad together as they both have two very different workflows for most of my main tasks.

I want to emphasize this point of seamless workflows. This has been a positive of going from iPhone to iPad, but iPad’s more PRO workflows are quite different from macOS. By evolving iPadOS and adding trackpad support in apps, my guess is the workflows from Mac and iPad will not be that different any longer which is good in my opinion.

I hate the debate as to whether the iPad is a computer, or not since I think it should simply be clear it is a new type of computer. That being said, it is extremely interesting to me they dynamic that has been at play between the iPad and the Microsoft Surface. If you had told me when iPad and then shortly after Surface launched, that in 10 years iPad would look more like a Surface, I would have told you you were wrong until I was blue in the face. Yet here we are.

Slaying Sacred Cows
I’ve said, and still believe, Steve Jobs’s original vision was much more transformative to the computer paradigm than perhaps humans were ready for. I honestly don’t think where iPad has evolved is where Steve hoped, but I could totally be wrong here, that’s just my hunch. I think humans again are stuck in my behavioral debt theory, and we gravitate to old things that are comfortable, and old habits really do die hard.

There is nothing wrong with this, there is simply wisdom in understanding the universal nature of this truth. When something transformative enters the picture, it is not the established users who embrace it but the new users who grow upon it. For example, my daughters use iPads for school. One of them will be a Sr. next year, and I had been thinking if she was going to need a Mac/PC to go off to college. She much prefers iPad to Ma,c and now with iPad Pro and the Magic Keyboard, I am confident that will do just fine for her in college.

But, what I think matters here in the big picture is Apple’s willingness to slay sacred cows. I do have a strong hunch, not bringing mouse/trackpad to iPad was a sacred cow for many early years into the iPad launch. It is extremely mature of Apple to be willing to leave behind ideas that may have had genuinely good intentions, and evolve in a way that fits the user, not their (Apple’s bias). This is not the first time we have seen this either. I think the iPad Mini was a concession by Apple, and I think smartphones larger than 5 inches were a concession by Apple. But, their concessions met the market where its needs evolved, and those concessions kept them in dominant positions with device sales.

I think these new feature improvements to iPad will do the same. It will keep iPad as the best selling tablet/computer combination and even leader to stronger sales going forward. It will also help the Mac, as I alluded to in my piece a few weeks ago. Bringing mouse support to iPad OS will absolutely help iOS developers bring their apps to Mac, which will create a software boon for Mac, which we have not seen since the early days of Mac software development. Apps help drive platforms, and if we see a flood of new macOS apps, this strengthens the case for developers for both iPadOS and Mac at the same time and could very well put both platforms on a new trajectory.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

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