The iPad Pro: The Start of Something New

The beginning of my experience with the iPad Pro started with thinking I would use it with the intent that it could replace my laptop. In fact, I was going to write this article with that in mind. I realized quickly that the iPad Pro could easily replace my laptop for more than 90% of the things I need on a day to day basis. The only thing my laptop still does more efficiently than the iPad Pro is work on spreadsheets, which may also be the most boring part of what I do. It also happens to be something very few people do regularly and for long periods of time. In so many ways, all the things we consider as “productivity” are perfectly doable on the iPad Pro.

However, if all we do is look for the iPad Pro to replace our desktop or laptop, we are missing the point. The paradigm of a fixed desktop computer plus a portable desktop computer, along with a mouse and keyboard as a primary input mechanism, is the old world of computing. I believe Apple has laid the groundwork for something new in this category.

Since the iPad first came out, I have been adamant it represents a fundamental shift toward simplicity of the personal computing standard. A notebook running a desktop operating system is, by its nature, a complex device. Desktop operating systems require a learning curve—many of us needed to take classes to teach us to be “computer literate.” Also, a mouse and keyboard as input mechanisms are not as intuitive as touch. Therefore, operating systems and software ecosystems, built around touch-based computers, lower the barrier to entry, allowing more people to use these machines to maximum capability. My experience with the iPad Pro furthers that conviction. In my opinion, the best positioning of the iPad came from Steve Jobs himself when he said, “The iPad is more intimate than a notebook and more capable than a smartphone.”

The tablet is a unique form factor. By the nature of the software, the tablet can become all things to all people. It can become a TV, an art easel, a word processor, a movie studio, a music recording tool, a photo editing tool, and so much more. What sets the computer (in the shape of a tablet) apart is the ease in which it can be held during use. The PC, in the shape of a notebook, is generally designed to be used while sitting with it on a desk or on your lap. The tablet can be used that way too, but it can also be held while moving around or while leaning back in bed. In short, the tablet is a much more versatile shape for a computer than a traditional notebook or desktop computer.

Lastly, the debate around what can and can’t be done on a PC, smartphone, or tablet is nonsense. People say you need a real PC with a mouse and keyboard to do real work. That’s simply not true. Having used the iPad Pro for more than a week, I’d offer that the limiter to how much “real work” one can do on any of these devices is screen size, not whether it has a mouse or a keyboard. The bigger the screen, the more you can get done in an efficient manner. As screen size increases, so do capabilities. The bigger you can make a computer, the more machine you can pack into it. The iPad has always represented in my mind the right amount of machine for the masses.

It’s Big

Your first reaction when you see it will be “it’s so big!” Then you will pick it up and you’ll say “It’s so light!” I had the same reaction, as did most people around me, when we first saw and got to touch and hold the iPad Pro at the launch event. It really is big and surprisingly light. That makes it easier to hold in a number of different contexts, from sitting on the couch and watching TV or reading the news, even holding while walking around. This is important for not just consumers but the many commercial uses for iPad I’ve studied over the past year. Doctors using them in the field, or on construction sites being used to replace 1000’s of pages of manuals and blueprints, or in colleges to replace a backpack full of textbooks. All these applications will benefit from the added screen size while not sacrificing the portability they need out in the field.

Prior to the iPad Pro, I used the iPad Air as my primary iPad. While larger, the Pro does not feel significantly heavier, at least to me. This allowed me to use it in many of the same ways and contexts I use my Air. The only tradeoff was laying in bed to read. When I do this, I hold the iPad in the air, like you would a book. This was a bit challenging with the iPad Pro. I also realize this is a minority use case but it was the main tradeoff I experienced between the iPad Air and the iPad Pro in terms of how I use them.

iOS and Mobile Apps Continues to Impress on Larger Screens

It feels as though iOS, as it has evolved, continues to improve even as it goes to larger screens. More importantly, iOS software developers continue to get better at using the additional real estate Apple gives them as they bring iOS to larger screens. The iPad Pro is no exception. Gaining just over two full inches doesn’t seem that much but, in reality, it is a great deal of extra screen. I’ve experienced other mobile operating systems when they run on larger screens and the apps are either blown up versions of their small screen versions or do not take advantage of the added screen size. I was concerned iOS and a plethora of apps that run on the iPad Pro were going to yield a similar experience.

To my surprise, it did not. Due to the many optimizing options Apple has given developers, apps do more than just scale nicely onto larger screens. Take my favorite Twitter client, Tweetbot, for example. This app on the iPhone 6 or 6s will show just your timeline. However, on the 6 Plus or 6s Plus, when you hold it in landscape mode the app uses the additional real estate of the 5.5” screen and shows you a customizable pane on the right. Similarly on the iPad Pro, the app utilizes the additional real estate and in both portrait and landscape mode, both panes appear.

Slack is another app I use regularly which optimizes well, adding functionality as it goes from small screen to large screen. On the iPad Pro, the Slack app is quite similar to its Mac or Windows app, displaying a sidebar of teams, channels, and individual members, and all your files. Slack is able to make one app cover all screen sizes and leverage the additional real estate nicely.

Making movies was another experience that amazed me. It is important to note that I create 90% of our home movies on my iPhone, largely because I capture nearly all the video and photos using it. Now that I have added a quadcopter with a camera that captures in 4k resolution, along with a host of other GoPro cameras, I have a multitude of capture devices that all have iPhone apps that transfer footage to the iPhone wirelessly. This workflow makes all the video and photos available on my iPhone and iPad and I’m pretty good at using iMovie on the iPhone to create videos. Given the additional real estate and horsepower from the iPad Pro’s A9x processor, the speed of video editing was incredible. A friend who is a professional videographer didn’t believe me when I said I could edit multiple 4k streams (shot using the iPhone 6s) simultaneously on the iPad Pro. Sure enough, when I showed him the movies he was blown away, as was every one else I demoed them for.

Split screen was another element that added a new dimension of iPad productivity for me. The vast majority of my time spent on the iPad Pro was using it in split screen mode. Similar to how I have multiple apps open side by side on my Mac. I’d often keep Tweetbot or iMessage open in the right pane, then jump between other apps for my work-flow — email, Safari, etc. What is great about apps that take advantage of split screen capabilities but are also built for smaller screens is they scale nicely between split screen and full-screen mode. The apps utilize the small or large space given to them since they were built with many screen sizes in mind. This is the opposite of the desktop or laptop app experience, since most OS X or Windows apps were built only with large screens in mind and many don’t scale well when you shrink their window.

Apple’s inclusion of the tools for developers to allow their apps to be used side by side feels like something done specifically for the iPad Pro.

The Most Eye Opening Observation

From my time with the iPad Pro, the most interesting observation I made was not how I used the tablet but how my oldest daughter, who is twelve, used the iPad Pro. She goes to a private school where each kid uses an iPad all day, every day. They use the iPad in every aspect of their education, from textbooks and learning materials, to real-time collaboration, notes, making movies during class, presenting, and much more. When we were checking out this school, we spent time watching kids use their iPads to do a range of things in the classroom. I was stunned by their fluency and efficiency. How fast they type, how quickly they multi-task between taking notes or a picture of the teacher’s notes on the board and then mark up their own notes on top of that. These kids were more literate with the iPad than many people I know who are highly technical, including myself. This ingrained literacy is the result of using a touch-based computer and the apps built on top of the mobile ecosystem, every day. After watching them for a day, I’m honestly not sure I could have accomplished as much as they did in as short of a time using a traditional laptop.

So I should not have been surprised when my daughter started playing with the iPad Pro for a few hours and came back and showed me all the things she had done: movies she made, photos she took outside (which she edited/mashed up using the different apps she also uses in creative projects at school) and taking advantage of the unique benefits of the Apple Pencil. With nearly everything she showed me, I had to ask her how she did it. I had no idea some of the apps on iPad were as powerful as they were, enabling her do things I didn’t think were possible (leading me to think developers need to do a better job of touting their apps’ features). As I said, her fluency with the iPad Pro and the quickness in which she adapts to new tools like the Pencil and pushes the limits of the new tools so quickly was astonishing.

She embraced the Pencil and used it to create more precise illustrations on top of the video and image mashup she was creating for a class presentation. The extra level of detail and precision of the Pencil allowed her to create a digital version of the paper art project she was doing for class. All the other students were presenting their paper illustrations alongside the digital video and photo presentation and she was able to add digital art and present the entire project digitally.

There is truly something happening with this generation growing up spending the bulk, if not all, of their computing time using mobile operating systems and doing new things with new tools. Being the techie that I am, I was a bit disheartened that my twelve-year-old was getting more out of the iPad Pro and pushing it further limits than I was. But she is a part of the mobile generation after all. For them, the future will look quite different and the tools they use to make that future might look quite similar to the iPad Pro.

Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard

While I’m not the target audience for Apple’s stylus, which is sold separately, I have used way too many over them over the years than I’d like to admit. Palm rejection is always the first thing I test when using a product that comes with a digitizing input device and it is flawless on iPad Pro. I let an artist friend try it and she couldn’t believe it. She also tried to steal the iPad Pro from me because of how excited she was about its potential for artists.

Apple’s implementation of the stylus seems to be targeted more toward artists and creative professionals than note takers, though. The Pencil itself has a glossy finish and feels more like an art brush or sketch pencil than a note taking device. This, I think, is a key distinction of how it was designed and who it is intended for. A product like the Surface Pro 4, which I have been also using for a few weeks, is more focused on note takers or someone who marks up documents for work. Since I’m the latter, I can related more to the use case of the Surface Pro 4.

One last point. I hope Apple steals an idea from the Surface Pro 4 in the future related to the pen. The Surface Pro 4 Pen has a magnetic side to it that sticks quite firmly to the edge of the tablet, giving you a slick solution to store the pen and not lose it. The Apple Pencil is just as easy to lose as a regular pencil, but at a cost of $99.

I had mixed opinions of the keyboard at the beginning. The case feels like a normal smart cover, but the difference is there is a very thin keyboard which folds under the cover. What matters about this keyboard is how, when it is docked, it is held by a very strong magnet. There is very little give to the screen when you touch it. I tried this against the play on my Macbook Pro and the movement when touching the iPad Pro when docked with the keyboard was actually less than if I touched my Mac screen. This matters for using the iPad Pro with the keyboard on your lap or on an uneven surface. The new technical term for this particular use case is “lapability” and, from my experience, the iPad Pro and keyboard work as well on the lap as any laptop I own.

Something Old Making Way for Something New

Adding a touchscreen to a PC doesn’t make it a tablet any more than adding a keyboard to the iPad doesn’t make it a PC. We certainly need modern definitions for these terms because what constitutes a personal computer is now so wide it applies to nearly all large and small screens. The additional capabilities of creativity, the mobile software ecosystem, and so many things not found on traditional notebook and desktop operating systems is where I believe the upside is for this product. It is a healthy blend of the things we do with our PCs and the things we do with our mobile devices.

The argument about what can be done versus what can’t be done is quite useless. I emphasize the importance of maintaining a mass market perspective when talking about what is and isn’t a PC. For over a billion people, the smartphone is their primary personal computer. Each screen we add to our life is a new tool for the task at hand. The PC, in the shape of a desktop or notebook, has its role for those who need it. The goal of the PC was to put a computer on every desk. The goal of the smartphone is to put a computer in every hand.

The iPad Pro also represents something new from a software standpoint. However, turning the iPad Pro into something new rests squarely on the shoulders of Apple’s developer community. Developers will hopefully embrace the skills they have built coding for iOS and start pushing the limits and enabling brand new, never-been-done-before experiences on top of this platform. Like all platforms, it rests in the hands of developers to use the tools given to them and to innovate.

The iPad Pro represents the mobile ecosystem growing up. It shows the software community’s ability to leverage the foundation built around smartphones and bring more capable software to devices with larger screens and new input mechanisms. This part, the new era of computing built by the ecosystem of mobile developers and born out of mobile platforms, is the new narrative to follow.

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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

54 thoughts on “The iPad Pro: The Start of Something New”

  1. “There is truly something happening with this generation growing up spending the bulk, if not all, of their computing time using mobile operating systems and doing new things with new tools.”

    This is a key point and it mirrors the experience of my four teenagers who have used iPad 2s since 2011. They are touch wizards, doing all kinds of interesting things on their iPads. They all want an iPad Pro for their next PC.

  2. I’m still missing the size of my 2012 FamilyPad (13.3″). It’s unfathomable how OEMs can be so narrow-minded and not make the logic leap that tablets need as many sizes as laptops. Even on the Android side, we’ve only got 2 13″ that are both old and flawed (Polaroid and Lenovo), and 3 12″, one moribund from HP, and 2 outrageously priced 2014 models from Samsung. I’m going with an 11.6″ dual-boot Android +Windows tablet next. I’d have preferred something bigger though. The thing about screen sizes is that quoting diagonals misleads us into believing screen size grows linearly. The Pro’s screen is actually 77% bigger than the Air’s, or about what a 24″ desktop monitor is to a 17″. I’ve considered the iPad Pro simply for its screen size, but then I noticed the price and figured I’d get more use out of a laptop a tablet and a phone for the same budget.

    I’m not so hot about a stylus: my tablet of the last 3 years supports one, and past the initial writing recognition magic and kindergarten-level sketches, I haven’t used it. Must be very use-case dependent, because the feature itself works fine, I just have no use for it, whereas I use the keyboard all the time and the mouse rather often. I’m not doing any design/artistic stuff.

    Ditto multitasking which my tablet also supports: I’ve found that I prefer another device, which gives me more screen space, and more persistence. Various apps make it easy to cut and paste or share between devices, and nothing beats multiple screens. My workspace has organically evolved (or devolved ?) into a PC with 2 screens, 2 tablets, and 2 phablets. I’m mostly desk-bound though, more mobile people probably prefer a single device.

    My issue, and the reason why I’m going with a dual-boot Android+Windows tablet, is that 10% of stuff you say the iPad Pro can’t do well (which is also the time my current 8″ dual boot tablet spends in Windows instead of Android). This means I would have to lug another device, and actually buy that device. Until one OS manages to do it all, dual-boot seems the smart solution. Actually, I’d like 2 of them ^^

    1. “It’s unfathomable how OEMs can be so narrow-minded and not make the logic leap that tablets need as many sizes as laptops.”

      Agree completely. For me, the main dividing line between use models in personal computing is large-screen vs small-screen computing. And the source of the distinction between the two use models is not physical ergonomics but human cognitive limits, working memory to be more specific. When the amount of information that we need to integrate, analyse and manipulate for a given computing task reaches a certain point, small screens just won’t cut it. We will need the crutch of a detailed and complete visual representation of the information/data that we are working on, be it numbers on a spreadsheet, pixels in a picture, or frames in a video clip. And, sad to say, as we get older, the crutch needs to get stouter.

  3. Re: spreadsheets on a tablet.

    Spreadsheets on tablets will take off when developers seamlessly combine spoken and touch inputs. “Put the total from this (touch first cell) to this (touch last cell), here (touch destination cell)”

  4. For the iPad Pro to become a replacement MacBook, it needs to run enterprise software. It currently doesn’t (is this something Parallels is working on?). Also, the keyboard needs to offer a trackpad option, as reaching out to touch the display is neither efficient nor productive.

    1. I don’t agree on the need for a trackpad. We’ve got six iPad 2s, all in keyboard cases. We find the combination of hardware keyboard and touch input on the screen to be very nice. I love it, it’s so comfortable and easy and quick. My mouse and trackpad feel awkward in comparison.

    2. No, it doesn’t need enterprise software…. unless it’s in the enterprise. The Pro won’t replace the Macbook for a very long time if ever. However, it will be the primary computing device for some people in the enterprise (think the creative services people) and for many people outside the enterprise. It’s one in a continuum of choices and will be a perfect fit for some and a non-starter for others.

  5. The idea of using a magnet to attach the pencil to the iPad Pro is overrated. It won’t travel in any bag during travel well, so what’s the point? Borrowing any idea from Microsoft is usually a bad one in my experience.

  6. Firstly just because you can do 90% of your work on the IPod pro , does not necessarily mean it is the best tool for the job compared to a well built laptop.

    You said that those who say you need a real PC with a mouse and keyboard to do real work are talking nonsense. When in fact, the only reason you talk about the IPad Pro replacing you PC is because you can add a mouse and keyboard to it.

    Hardware in vacuum doesn’t defined productivity, it is all the suites of applications that support it that make all the difference, and as we speak the majority of those productive application work best in a true PC than turning an IPad into one by adding a mouse and keyboard to a touch screen interface.

    I think a touch screen interface has limitation when it comes to productivity, the same way a laptop with a touch screen is limited. trying to convince someone to forget his laptop for an IPad pro in my opinion is nonsense

    1. Point is “Real PC” is an archaic and out-dated term.. What is and isn’t is a dated argument.

      New tools let you do more. Different, perhaps, but not everyone needs or prefers the same tool for the job.

      1. this post was a copy conform of the one you made about the IPad Air when it first lunch and it never replaced the PC, because doing so will require a new class of tools and applications to be built around touch interface except that those tools and application works better in a true PC interface, that could change in the Future but i don’t think the IPad pro will be enough to do so.

        1. Even more, maybe it will require not only new apps, but new classes of uses ie new jobs organization, almost new corporation, certainly neww IT resources/setups.
          I doubt a tablet will ever be better than an xtop for Office docs, SAP, even email… ie most jobs/use cases that already exist. And rarely better than a phone for structured data-entry in the field.

          1. Perhaps your doubts betray a lack of imagination and a lack of familiarity with what is already out there.

            An iPad is actually ideal for structured data entry in the field, whether that involves interacting with people or monitoring equipment. Phones may be OK for personally filling in contact forms or simple surveys. But they aren’t great for eliciting information from someone else, nor for stepping through information in a more complex, non-linear way. And a laptop isn’t great for field work (because it is not an “arm top”.)

            An iPad is great to gather around while standing. It also allows better use of panels and navigation for more complex structures of data. Plenty of developers have shown how they can re-imagine an app’s interface an iPad to create something much more useful and compelling for mobile and field jobs/use cases than either phones or laptops could provide.

    2. You can’t add a mouse to iPads. They’re not cool like Androids :-p

      Edit: Actually, I don’t think you can add any of the wide array of USB devices Android supports out of the box via standard USB drivers (gamepads, webcams, hard disks, trackapds, USB soundcards and DACs…)

      1. the reason i doubt the IPad Pro will make any difference is because there was no true productive app build on touch interface that come with it from Apple, they should have follow Google who Build GAPA around their Chromebook Cloud base interface to get adoption in school

        1. You’re probably right: we’ve got boatfuls of anecdotes about kids adults and pros making piccies and videos, but outside of those narrow niches, any review seems to end in “can’t fully replace the PC I need for my work”.
          And most people are going to willy-nilly end up with a PC for work. If the iPad/iPad Pro (or any tablet) is an extra device, not an “instead” device, let alone a better device for the job to be done, the sale gets a lot harder.
          Smartphones replaced dumbphones and media players. Laptops mostly replaced desktops. I don’t think tablets create many new use cases. And, for existing cases, they’re sandwiched between phablets and laptops, and combine the limitations of both: not pocketable, not usable one-handed nor even, really, standing, yet lacking apps and capabilities. Maybe some apps will fill some of the holes in time, but most issues are intrinsic.
          The one situation I’m having success with tablets is replacing home PCs for decidedly non-techie people doing almost exclusively mail, web, Skype, media consumption (books, TV, radio, music) and simple games. But you don’t need to pay iPad prices for that.

          1. If I understand you correctly, then simply the ubiquity of PCs and smartphones will likely continue keep pressure on tablet adoption, even regardless of price. I agree with this.

            But I do think the very nature of the PC form, regardless of laptop or desktop, will continue to keep pressure on consumer adoption of PCs and have more and more adopt a tablet, iPad or otherwise, Not solely, but certainly a major factor. I am surprised by the number of people I find who are opting for solely mobile (tablet/smartphone) for personal use and forgoing a PC, especially since they already have a PC at work.

            It’s usually for other additive reasons, too. To have, even a laptop, at home they usually at least infer if it isn’t implied, that they will need a desk at home. A tablet implies no such thing. A desk means work. Some people don’t want to think about work when they are home, believe it or not. Ironically it is often management, the same ones who believe their staff should still be thinking about work at home. Not all. I do know laborers who don’t have a PC at home to keep the boss at bay, too.

            As someone who says they do or at least have worked in marketing, I am still surprised you keep bringing up “price”. A marketer usually has an understanding of value in the price equation. Or maybe your client base were the kind who tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes. Or maybe you just became cynical because of those clients, however many there were, and now just assume everyone is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.


          2. Easy stuff first:
            1- almost everyone has a table at home, and a laptop simply needs any table just while it’s being used, not a dedicated desk in an office like a desktop does. A chair is nice too ^^
            2- I talk price probably because I’ve worked only B2B, where any project has to contend with budgets, ROI or competition, usually all 3. That’s also why I now often throw up my hands in despair and label phones handbags, because the decision process for those is pretty much the opposite. Or just fully unrelated. Or there’s none. I’m not sure how talking price, which is a simple, hard quantity is more adept at manipulation than talking about value, which first is way harder to pin down, second has a strong subjective component especially in Consumer. I guess I’m very much a cynic, and the small uncynical part of me doesn’t live in the IT sphere, or more generally in the commercial one, at all. How does one discuss value in handbags ?

            As for tabets having to carve a niche, indeed they mostly make sense for personal use, but if you already have a PC for work, does it make sense to add a tablet, especially when that PC is a laptop or convertible ? Especially when taking into account all the stuff tablets can’t do well ? I’m sure they’re justified in some cases, they certainly are what I’m prescribing most these days, but since they mostly don’t fully replace PCs yet.

          3. Beyond how many people will set up a laptop as much as a desktop PC (external monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, etc), I think “desk” is as much metaphor as literal. For some people just being able to do work at home follows with they will do work at home. But the moment they put a laptop on a table, it is, for all intents and purposes, now a desk, not a table. Not for everyone, of course.

            I think if you ask someone for whom that handbag we discussed in another thread about the value, I think you would find a lot of arguments similar to B2B discussions of budget, ROI, and, metaphorically, competition. In other words, it is all subjective. The matter is where one finds value. No one buys the cheapest of everything they buy. If cheapest was the only real point of value Yugo would still be around and the most valuable car brand.

            But you know this. I understand the difficulty transposing ideas where they make sense to areas where the make less sense. It is solidly where most art operates.


  7. I lean heavily towards the “iPads will *eventually* replace PCs” camp, but I strongly emphasise the *eventually*. Apple will certainly further evolve the iPad and app developers will certainly improve their software and come up with new use cases. The question is when will they reach the critical point, and how small with iPad sales shrink before they start to trend upwards in the future.

    Anecdotes help us understand that 1) iPads will replace PCs eventually, 2) they are still insufficient for many people. However, anecdotes do not help us make estimations of when *eventually* will happen. To do this, we need data.

    We need data on how many iPads are being used by people like Ben’s daughter. We need data on how many people still think that iPads are no more than mobile TVs and digital books. We need data on how many corporations plan to deploy iPads to what percentage of their workforce. If we had this data, then we could try to guess whether the iPad Pro would lift iPad sales, or whether we still have to brace for several more quarters of sales decline.

    iPad web usage data still suggests that people like Ben or his daughter do not constitute the majority of iPad users. It suggests that the majority of users would not appreciate the iPad Pro’s new features, even more so given the hefty price tag. I realise that this data is hardly complete, and I would appreciate more information.

    Given what data I have seen though, I am expecting at least one more year of disappointing iPad sales. I am hoping that the iPad Pro does not set unreasonable expectations, as developers may be strongly discouraged when they see actual sales numbers. I am hoping that developers realise this turning iPad sales around is a long term effort.

    1. Apple is getting in early and placing a bet that as phones continue to become more and more essential to people’s life and work, the “gravitational pull” of IOS will increase to the point where you have people saying “I don’t want a laptop, I want a work device that runs IOS.”

      The Ipad pro is Apple’s ante up on the IOS ecosystem, which has already started to be some people’s *primary* ecosystem (cf Asymco’s video review and the Macstories review), and Apple is betting that the number or people like that will only grow over time.

      Additional data point: rumours that next summer’s WWDC will include a version of Xcode for the ipad pro, making it a native development environment for IOS.

        1. Various places, but the one that comes closest to actual information as opposed to wistful thinking is here. Apple has lots of stuff being tested internally that never sees the light of day, but one hopes that they will see the wisdom of allowing this one to come to be.

      1. I have a more complex theory on how Apple is trying to sell more iPads. I think what we’re seeing is two technology adoption curves that are in very different stages and overlapping, to create a complex combined adoption curve for the iPad.

        The first curve is where people saw the iPad as a leisure and casual email and browser. This is the use case that was already familiar to the consumers that were already over served by PCs and were adopting Netbooks. Since the “chasm” had already been crossed, initial iPad adoption was very fast, much like the Netbooks before it. However the market for leisure devices was easily disrupted by smartphones and we soon saw sales decline.

        On the other hand, we have another adoption curve that is still in the early adopter phase and has not yet crossed the chasm. This is the market which uses iPads for more than leisure. This is the market composed of people who use iPads as their primary work device, and who use them like Ben’s daughter. This market is struggling to entertain the early majority. As Geoffrey Moore recommends in his “chasm” theories, what is needed here is a whole product approach. That is why IBM is important. In addition to the device, it can provide the apps, the support, and the consulting.

        Long term, the latter curve will dominate.

  8. Also, the article headline picture looks really overwhelming. Or is it underwhelming. Apple must quickly innovate Widgets, because that home screen is just nightmarish.
    And the machine+incidentals costs a cool $1,250… you can buy a lot of “real” PC, or tablet, or phone, for that. More than one of each actually.

    1. Certainly, you can. And this is where a lot of your arguments fall down. Because Apple purchases can’t all be easily dismissed as frivolous, spur-of-the-moment, emotional purchases, made by people with money to burn, or those looking to project the image of a luxury lifestyle, and who have been taken in Apple’s marketing and product placement in movies.

      If that was the case, of course the fact that “you can buy a lot of “real” PC, or tablet, or phone, or more than one, for that” would make no sense to you. What we are telling you is, it doesn’t make sense. You constantly present Apple sales as a case of the above.

      But, a very large share of the tens of millions of purchases of Apple products made each quarter must be based on substance and a considered thought process. That would involve TCO, resale value, support, durability, usability, life of the product and whether a family member can continue using it for a further 3 years, the ecosystem, the quality of apps, the jobs to be done, etc. There must be some legitimate and compelling value proposition.

      Otherwise, like you try to push, comment after comment, buying something cheaper (or more than one something) would be a no-brainer for tens of millions of Apple customers. You can’t have it both ways: either Apple products represent little value, and thus their sales would be languishing like the Galaxy and other Android and MS devices, and Apple would be revealed for the charlatans you constantly claim them to be; or, Apple’s products are enjoying some success because they do indeed represent some real value for most of their users.

      Incidentally, the “elitism” or “arrogance” of Apple users — which simply says that “there is more value in Apple products than you might think, if you were to investigate it thoroughly with an open mind” — is nothing compared to the attitude you continually display which dismisses all Apple customers as duped sheep who only care about appearances.

      1. Ironically, even pragmatism as a process for purchasing decisions is emotional. There is an emotional reward for being frugal or pragmatic, as much as whatever Obarthelemy’s claims about Apple buyers. We are emotional beings as much as intellectual. It is ridiculous to think we ever truly operate outside of emotion.


        1. True, for sure. I was just trying to distinguish between purely whimsical on one hand, and a blinkered approach that looks at columns of numbers on paper (specs and prices) on the other.

          Obart would like to class Apple purchases as the former, and acts like the latter is all that truly matters. Presumably he takes this approach since that is the way he finds to make a case for Android and give it some advantage.

          Most decisions are neither. The best ones combine an emotional reward or satisfaction with some kind of rational process that may include rigorous research or the advice of someone you trust.

          When things aren’t displayed in an artificial light, but in the light of day, Apple can more than hold its own.

      2. “must be based on substance and a considered thought process.
        That process would involve the consideration of TCO, resale value,
        support, durability, usability, security, life of the product and
        whether a family member can continue using it for a further 3 years, the
        ecosystem, the quality of apps, the jobs to be done, etc.”.

        I’ve never met *any* consumer who actually did even a small part of that analysis, and, frankly, Apple customers less so. My iBrother just got a 6 for his wife because he didn’t feel up to explaining to her the very slight differences between her (falling apart which is understandable after a few years and 3 toddlers playing grabby-phone and drooly-phone and puky-phone, I’m not knocking Apple’s quality here), but otherwise perfectly sufficient iPhone 4 and an Android. Other than that, the last support call I got from an iOS user was to know if their iPad would work in another country, and they switched off when I got to wifi passwords. I’m not saying iOS users are dumber than Android users, I’m saying both are clueless to the nice criteria you’re listing, but some put value on shiny, some don’t. I’m sure there are counter-examples. I’m also sure they are a very small minority, and we’re in it.

        I’ve never used elitism or arrogance about Apple users, and I’m fairly aware I consider my position superior to others, which is the reason I have it to start with. I could throw money at the issue and be done with it. I’d certainly feel dumb for it.

        1. I’m not convinced your anecdote says what you want it to say.

          Elsewhere I referred to advice from trusted friend or family member replacing some of the thought process. Aren’t you just saying your sister-in-law trusts your brother’s judgement in this area? And that you would have had a harder time convincing her/them to get an Android were she interested in hearing about the “slight differences”? (Perhaps he didn’t feel up to it, because you had already explained it in great detail? 😉 ).

          Secondly, since you label your brother, an “ibrother”, and note he has purchased at least an iPhone 4 previously, then I imagine he had engaged in plenty of considered thought at one time or another. I would put it to you that you are underestimating your brother; surely his purchase of an expensive iPhone 6 has more to do with his experience and satisfaction of Apple products, and little to do with feeling “locked-in” or feeling it was the path of least resistance.

          In any case, not having to expend much effort to justify the purchase of (due to the immediate usefulness, value and satisfaction readily perceived by the intended user), nor explain the operation an iPhone 6 to a wife, mother (or toddler for that matter), and feeling happy to let them loose with it (including knowing they won’t get into trouble security-wise), is precisely one of the subtleties and values I allude to.

          1. What is path of least resistance if not “not having to explain / justify”. From what my iB told me, he would have liked the GS6 or G4 better pictures, but didn’t want to make the effort nor take the risk of switching, especialy since iSisterInLaw does like shiny.

            and iBrother is fully i-ified indeed, with an iMac, a MacBook, a couple of iPads, an iTV, 2 iPhones (soon 3… or he’ll die under iNephew’s nagging ^^), and I think a Time Machine and an Airport (not sure, he also has a Cisco router and a Synology NAS, so those last two might have been left behind at some point). Now he’s having second thoughts about his not very realiable and non-upgradeable and expensive to replace iMac, and the non-iPhones’ better cameras and bigger storage (Canada’s Internet is even more mettered and full of holes than the US’s, go explain to kids spending a rainy week-end in a cabin that there’s no Internet and the iPad’s movies got automatically displaced by House of Cards ^^ I got him a battery-powerd wifi SD card sharing thingy to avoid more drama), but he’s fairly locked-in and busy.

            He got into iPhones back when their cameras were leading (no longer the case), iMac because he didn’t realize AIOs in general were fairly non-evolutive and Apple’s in particular were sealed, and iPads because he could charge them to his one-person consultacy so price wasn’t a factor. And now can’t switch because 3 small kids ^^

        2. “I’ve never met *any* consumer who actually did even a small part of that analysis, and, frankly, Apple customers less so.”

          Right, because people about to spend an extra $300 on a phone (twice what they should, according to you), and despite possibly hearing all about it from people like you, don’t stop and ask themselves any questions whatsoever. They don’t even seriously ask themselves: “what is this extra 300 going to get me?” According to you they just want to look cool or boost their feeling of worth in some area.

          (And why would you start talking about a load of stuff that ended up at wifi passwords anyway? I think I would switch off, too. Just say, “of course”. Surely they had been to a friend’s house or a cafe where they had to access a different network than their own).

          1. Do you think people spending on a Vuitton bag have objective reasons to do so ? Phones are handbags, to most users.

            What would you ask someone who asked you if their iPad will work abroad ? The question itself rises an red flag… What do they mean by “work” (reading emails), is it 3/4G (no), then it ‘s just a matter of selecting the wifi network and entering the password… which they didn’t seem to know how to do, nor want to learn (she was recently widowed, I’m guessing hubby was the one in charge of passwords). Again, they’d have had the same issue with an Android, but that doesn’t point at much ability to make a rational decision about devices.

            As for someone refusing to touch any tech but Apple’s, that’s pure branding/shiny ? I don’t see the “TCO etc” reasoning behind it. If she had gottent started with Android instead of iThingie, she’d be the same, but with Android.

          2. I have no idea what people spending on a Vuitton bag think; I don’t know a single person with one.

            However, with a wide network of international contacts (mostly professional, though some like my mother) I could say half have an Apple product.

            Comparing a “tool” like a bag, to a “tool” like a smartphone is a bit like comparing a wheel barrow to a car. You have far greater expectations for the usefulness of the smartphone vs a bag. You can spend 100x as much on a Vuitton bag and not change any of your dynamics with a bag you only use occasionally. You can spend 2 or 3x on an iPhone and significantly change your dynamics with 100 things you do every day.

            They just don’t compare, and this is one of the ways you like to obfuscate the matter.

            I put words in my mother’s mouth about refusing to touch anything other than an iPad or an iPad — point is, she doesn’t do anything that she isn’t completely confident with; and she (and my dad) would not do any fiddling with or babysitting of a phone OS or system tools. The fact they haven’t phoned me once about any of their iPhones, but only about Macs, is rather a point in Apple’s favour. So, yes, you can be “thoughtful and considered” about having no inclination to spend time and consideration on the device itself and its system.

          3. “You can spend 2 or 3x on an iPhone and significantly change your dynamics with 100 things you do every day.”
            0- I’d say you can spend 1/2 to 1/3 of what you spend on an iPhone, and improve the dynamics of what you do every day ^^
            1- Nobody does 100 things on a phone. Most do less than 20,
            2- and they’re mostly done the exact same way on any phone. I’d argue Android does it better
            3- Most importantly, the same things get done, whatever the phone. And its price. And whether the casing is gold, or gray, or plastic. Except the plastic ones get better reception, don’t slip, and cushion falls. People around me do the exact same things the exact same way whatever their phones; some do it for 1/3 the price, is all.

            I have the same anecdotes about any non-techie with a smart phone: they teach themselves to do some stuff, then mostly stop venturing outside their comfort zone. It happens the same on Android or iOS, there’s no magic that makes clicking an icon on iOS easier than on Android, and then the app is the same.

            You seem to think iPhones are both easier and more capable, yet half your contacts don’t have them, but are, I assume, doing the same things with the same amount of effort ?

            iPhones are, mostly, more gold. Literally and figuratively.

          4. Yeah, I hear cardboard cameras take photos, too. ^^

            “and they’re mostly done the exact same way on any phone. I’d argue Android does it better”

            Of course you would argue that. Most of us here would argue it isn’t the exact same way, if the apps and workflows are different. Though it might be the exact same way between any two Android OEM’s devices (a Catch 22, because you sell Android on the basis of choice, familiarity, and interchangeability; yet OEMs need to differentiate themselves).

            Also, the quality of the output/the results and work you produce, and the adaptability to new use cases, impacts whether it can be judged that something is *done* just as well or better.

          5. The apps are mostly the exact same, unless you’re using Apple’s own Apple-only apps( which they love you to do).

            The rest is pure bunk: you’re assuming everything, with exactly 0 data, 0 proof, 0 examples. Starting with your cardboard camera leader: the iPhone’s is noticeably behind the best.

  9. I agree that all the “this is a real PC” ‘This is real work” “touch screen on laptop bad”, blah, blah, blah, is pretty much not the point. The future is diverse devices for diverse tasks and reasons.

    My concern for iPad (and secondarily tablets in general) growth is that while 90% of the old things we did on a PC is now done/doable on a tablet, 90% of what we do on a tablet doesn’t need a new iPad/tablet to be done.

    It is going to be a long transition. In Wall Street terms, I don’t think that qualifies as “growth”.


  10. I realize I’m just a straight white male so my opinion doesn’t really count, but I always thought the future of computing was Windows… in the form of a tablet laptop. Don’t we all want a tablet laptop?

  11. Is it really a start of something new, or just another product expanding Apple’s offerings?

    If Tim Cook accepts self cannibalization, then it seems that Apple isn’t so much a particular product company, but a company that possibly sells the most computer devices. And, maybe that’s the end game?

    1. Apple has always operated on the principle that you cannibalize yourself or somebody else will do it for you.

      On a minor petty note, cannibalization, by its original definition of eating your own species, used to mean self-cannibalization but some unthinking business writers started using it in place of ‘displacement’ and so we have to endure this torture of having to use an extra syllable to convey the same thing.

  12. Here’s a shock from Ars Technica:

    “Things are even more impressive on the GPU side, where the OpenGL version of the GFXBench test shows the A9X beating not just every previous iDevice, but every Intel GPU up to and including the Intel Iris Pro 5200 in the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the Intel HD 520 in the Surface Pro 4. Once we see Iris and Iris Pro chips from the Skylake family, Intel may be on top again, but those aren’t due out until early next year, and they only ship in the fastest of Apple’s products.”

    Does A9X’s shocking performance turn this whole thread upside down?

    What apps will be written for a true (and cheapest) ‘muscle’ machine? (Games, photography, video, prograde movie making, science, and VR come to mind.)

    Till now, I was wondering what Tim was smoking when he said, “Why would you buy a PC?”

  13. It’s funny reading all the comments, especially the contra iPad ones. Yes, iPad can be used to do real and professional jobs. Yes, many people will use it for whatever things they think it can be used for. If you disagree with that then it’s obviously that it’s not for you, or it’s not for your job, or you don’t understand it. Either way, it won’t hurt you, whatsoever. So, get along and move on. Let the world decide it for themselves. 😀

  14. Ben – thanks much for the write up. I am wondering if the usage model for iPads in schools will give us an idea for how Apple will want us to use them at work.

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