iPads Can’t Beat Macs

Jean-Louis Gassée at Quarts:

In earlier columns “The iPad Is a Tease” last April and “The Sweet Spot On Apple’s Racket” in August, I tried to separate the merits of the tablet genre, which I see as established and durable, from the unreasonable expectations that arose from the sense of liberation from PC obfuscation. If you see the tablet as a one-for-one replacement for a PC, you’ll be disappointed, and the falling iPad sales will look like an inevitable skid into obsolescence. I flirted with membership in that camp when I accused the iPad of being unsympathetic to “ambitious” users. (My column was “iPad and File Systems: Failure of Empathy“; in my defense, that was in early 2013—eons ago in tech time.)

I’ve since recanted. Instead of a hybrid product as promoted by Microsoft, the sweet spot in Apple’s business model seems to be a tablet and a laptop, each one used for what it does best, unencumbered by hybridization.

As CEO Tim Cook noted last week, Mac sales (laptops, mostly) grew 18% in the last reported quarter. This time, contrary to earlier expectations, it looks like the Mac is cannibalizing the iPad…not a bad “problem” to have. And it’s nothing like the evisceration of iPod sales after the iPhone was introduced. With the advent of the iPhone, the music player became an ingredient, it was no longer a standalone genre.

There will always be good and unique use cases for iPads, iPhones, Macs, and watches. But the market for each isn’t equal. Phones are the most handy. Macs are the most useful for professional content creation. iPads are perhaps the best for relaxation and passive Internet digestion. The watch could facilitate the individuals’ mindfulness.


Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.