What it is: The release of iOS 11 has given the iPad more features to help it replace a laptop.
Back in the early days of computers, mainframe and minicomputer enthusiasts dismissed PCs as “toys” that couldn’t do real work. Mainframe and minicomputers are still more powerful than PCs but PCs are more than capable of doing real work especially because they can be where the users are. Mainframes and minicomputers forced people to only use computers in a fixed location. PCs let people use computers at their own desk or home or even on the move with a laptop. How many mainframe and minicomputer enthusiasts do you see today, still calling PCs “toys” that will never replace a “real” computer like mainframe or minicomputer?
The exact same pattern is playing out with PCs and tablets like the iPad. PC users dismiss the iPad as a “toy.” Even Microsoft’s former CEO, Bill Gates, wrongly claimed that the iPad can’t create documents, even though the iPad has been able to create Pages, Numbers, and Keynote documents for years. PC users claim the iPad can never replace a “real” computer like a PC in the same way that mainframe and minicomputer enthusiasts used to claim that PCs could never replace a “real” computer like a mainframe or minicomputer.
Yet with the release of iOS 11, the iPad now offers features that bring tablets closer in power to a laptop. The iPad represents a new way of computing just as PCs offered a new way of computing. Imagine if mainframe and minicomputer manufacturers created a 2-in-1 device that let you convert a mainframe into a PC when you need a PC, but convert it back to a mainframe when you need a mainframe. That’s no different than Microsoft claiming their Surface tablets are laptops and tablets.
Microsoft Surface devices are essentially ultraportable laptops that offer tablet capabilities in hindsight. They work and they’re usable, but they’re an attempt to keep PCs relevant in the new world of mobile computing. The future is mobile and that’s the iPad instead of the Surface tablet. The iPad is optimized for mobile interface. The Surface tablet is not.
The next generation of the iPad will get Apple’s new A11 processor, which will make it nearly as powerful (or even more powerful) than many low-end laptops on the market. The power of the iPad now equals many laptops in the same way that the power of many PCs eventually equalled the power of older mainframe and minicomputers.
People gravitated to PCs because it put the power of a computer in the hands of the individual. Mainframe and minicomputers chained users to a specific location and they could only use the computer with the help of computer specialists. PCs gave the power of computing to people wherever they needed it. Sounds a lot like the advantages of a tablet, doesn’t it?
PCs are fading in relevance because of tablets like the iPad. The iPad helped kill the entire netbook market because netbooks couldn’t compete against the iPad. Ordinary laptops will be next to fall to the iPad. PCs will still be around. It’s just that the iPad is going to take over the computing market. With greater security, ease of use, and mobility, the iPad offers huge advantages that PCs can never offer, even Macintosh laptops.
The Macintosh will still be around just like ordinary PCs will still be around. It’s just that in the future, the iPad is going to be what people use most often.