Vector 18: Ben Thompson on missing the iPad magic

Vector 18: Ben Thompson on missing the iPad magic

Ben Thompson of stratechery, formerly of Apple and Microsoft, talks about the tablet market, including the seeming loss of ‘magic’ in iPad marketing, the inability of PC-makers to see beyond the PC, and the opportunity for true revolution.

Show notes




Yell at us via the Twitter accounts above (or the same names on ADN). Loudly.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

See photo, Vine previews in your timeline with latest Twitter for iOS update

Next up →

Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies takes flight for iOS Nov. 7 for $4.99

Reader comments

Vector 18: Ben Thompson on missing the iPad magic


You guys are great. Got me juiced up thinking about how to grid analysis. Hope you don't mind my plopping an outline here.

Apple and Aristotle

Poor criticism is unbalanced, incoherent.
Even good criticism can struggle for balance and coherence.
Balanced criticism must appeal to a definition of the whole.
A wholistic definition of reality/causality is as old as Aristotle.
Aristotle’s definition of any thing employs four causes for specificity and comparability.

The four causes are material, formal, efficient, and final.
Let’s apply these to the iPad to define just what it is Apple invented, to offer more coherence and balance.
The what, the material cause, of the iPad is all the specced bits in it.
The how, the formal cause, includes design choices as to what the iPad will look like and do.
The who, the efficient cause, includes all the work on hard/software that make it do what it does.
The why, the final cause, is the purpose for the iPad: computing, surfing, messaging, etc.

Using four causes can generate descriptive definitions for devices and a kind of gamut chart for comparison.
The material bits that make up the iPad are also defined by four causes themselves.
The formal cause is the Jony Ives piece primarily.
The efficient cause includes both engineers, developers, and manufacturers the Tim Cook piece.
The final cause is decided by developers firstly and users ultimately.

Wow. I totally get what Ben is getting at now. And I totally agree: Apple does seem to be chasing the PC a bit more with the iPad. Perhaps they got too ambitious with using the iPad on taking over the PC, that they've fallen into the trap of looking at the iPad in the frame of reference of a PC.

Apple should totally focus on all the new things that the iPad enables, rather than chasing the PC.

Another thought: In the 2007 interview Steve Jobs gave with Bill Gates at AllthingsD, he said that the biggest differentiator of Apple products, is actually software. That all of Apple's devices 'came in a beautiful box', but it's really the software that makes 'an iPod an iPod' and 'a Mac a Mac.'

Scott Forstall was one of Steve Jobs top software lieutenants since the early days; and he was clearly one of the best, and had a clear thirst to create even more new things.

If we add these two facts up: that Apple really is largely a software company at heart, and that it fired one it's best software lieutenants...?

Perhaps Apple could be in bigger trouble than we thought.