Just what is the iPad? How should iPad be defined? Does it matter if the iPad is in the midst of an identity crisis? So many questions. So little time.
For probably a few hundred million iPad users, Apple’s ‘just a big iPhone‘ is a PC notebook replacement. For others, it’s an information and entertainment device that gets used for hours each day, but doesn’t do what an iPhone can do. Other than that big, beautiful, pixel engorged display.
Ross Rubin thinks The iPad Has An Identity Crisis. Maybe so. But the crisis isn’t with the iPad. It’s with those who use it, how they use it, when it gets used, and, of course, where it is used.
Toss in a keyboard and the iPad becomes a damned good little PC notebook; not Mac, not Windows, in some ways better than both, and in other ways definitely not as good. There are more applications available for the iPad than Mac or Windows combined, thanks to the iOS and iPhone heritage and the App Store revolution.
First, why are iPad sales down (perhaps bottoming out now as Apple has become competitive on the low end with the new 9.7-inch iPad, and more competitive with notebooks with the iPad Pro line)?
The main reason for the demise of the tablet was the proliferation of larger-screened smartphones. While the smartphone had long ago put the hurt on other portable devices such as MP3 players, portable GPS units, and pocketable cameras, it was unusual to see the smartphone marginalize a device that had become popular after its introduction.
There is plenty wrong with Rubin’s assertions above. “The demise of the tablet?” Really? Microsoft and other Windows makers would disagree because they sell many millions of tablet-notebook hybrids. Apple would disagree as the iPad’s customer base tops 300-million.
Clearly, there are issues with the iPad’s present and future state. Yet, iPad sales dwarf that of the Mac, and few Windows PC or Chromebook makers have similar success in the marketplace, so let’s not call the tablet’s demise just yet.
After years of marketing Surface as a tablet that could replace one’s laptop and following that with a high-end 2-in-1, it has finally succumbed to practicality by releasing a traditional clamshell.
There’s another technology writer spewing a false equivalency. The Surface Book is a traditional notebook but was launched while the Surface was selling well. Now they’re not selling so well.
iPad’s identity crisis is easily understood, but requires a number of factors that play well together. iPhone and smartphone screens are larger, negating the need for a larger screened mobile device. The iPad itself seems to have a longer than expected life cycle; more like the Mac. The iPad itself, while an excellent device cannot easily replace an iPhone, cannot replace a good notebook PC or a Mac, hence, the identity problems.
With ARKit, Apple has indeed created a novel use for the iPad, one that turns its magic glass into a magic window that can superimpose any number of ordinary or fantastic objects in your field of view. Viewing augmented reality is a task that is ideally suited to the iPad’s combination of large screen and exceptional portability.
iPad and augmented reality go together well. Thank you, large screen but highly portable device. But ARKit and AR itself won’t change the iPad’s lonely position. iPad, instead, has become the everything device that works well in any situation but isn’t the best device for every situation (except babysitting and wasting time). But it’s a device that still sells double the Mac, still sells far more than any other tablet device, including Microsoft’s anemic Surface line.
iPad is here to stay but it’s up to use to determine the best use scenario. And that might be the problem. iPad isn’t the best at anything.