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The iPad paradox

Before I worked at Apple, I rarely, if ever, gave "advice" to Apple. Post Apple, my attitude is the same. Why? There's a good chance that any outside advice to Apple has either long since been considered by the smart people inside Apple, and either hasn't been implemented yet, or was thrown out as a dumb idea.

That said, I'm going to make an exception here to talk about iPad. More specifically, iPad sales.

For some time we've heard Tim Cook talk about how iPad sales were going to increase. But that hasn't happened. And it's puzzling.

I know many super smart folks, folks who aren't remotely Apple fanboys like Steven Sinofsky, who barely use their Macs (or Surface) but do use an iPad Pro.

I'm using my iPad Pro as my primary computer as well, and almost everyone I've shown it to has bought one. Yep, bought one … or tried to steal mine. Clearly, there are a lot of people who would buy an iPad.

So why aren't the sales higher? I think iPad is suffering from the "TiVo paradox."

Contextual value

"TiVo paradox" is a term I coined to explain how hard it is to market contextual value.

With some products, including TiVo, there's a distinct conflict between consumer understanding of the features and the value assigned to those features. While the internet was filled with a rabid fan base of customers who loved and praised TiVo at every opportunity, most consumers didn't understand the value of a $500 "digital VCR."

TiVo's features were relevant to the TV viewing experience based on a customer's immediate contextual need: The pause and rewind live TV feature was killer for any sports fan; remote access to the electronic programming guide was key to any busy traveler's DVR experience.

Without trying these features, though, customers are unaware of their overall value or how they come together as a whole. Want to pause TV when the phone rings? That's the killer app at that moment. Recording a show using an EPG to simply search for it? That's the killer app at that moment. Skipping commercials when you watch recorded content? That's the killer app at that moment. Contextual functionality ONLY comes together when you get to see the whole, not a piece or part. When you see only pieces, you just get a very expensive VCR not a TiVo.

In short, if you met a TiVo owner at a party, they were rabid. It was like being cornered by an insurance agent. They wouldn't leave you alone until you tried it. When most people tried it, the lightbulb turned on. TiVo was not an expensive VCR — it redefined watching TV.

I suspect iPad is suffering from the same paradox. Customers who buy an iPad Pro understand the power it unlocks relative to a Mac. The more they use it, the more it displaces their Mac.

They "get it," but most folks just don't.

Leaders teach

Steve Jobs once said, "Leaders teach." When it comes to iPad, though, Apple hasn't taught. What's the last memorable ad campaign for iPad that Apple ran? What's the last commercial that made you want to rush out and use one?

Exactly.

iPad really is the next big thing, and iOS 10 makes it even more so. If Apple could articulate the value of iPad to the mass market, I believe it would sell like the proverbial hotcake.

I'm not trying to give Apple advice here; I'm humbly observing iPad is a lesson that needs to be taught. With the right teacher, I suspect iPad would fulfill its role as the primary device for a post PC world.

I’ve covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. I’ve also had the fun of contributing my $.02 on the topic at Computerworld, Engadget, Macworld, SlashGear and now iMore. Most recently I spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing. On Twitter I’m an unverified @gartenberg. I still own some Apple stock.

69 Comments
  • He over egged the pudding, that’s why. iPad is great but really, a 4.7” iPhone and a notebook will do fine and allow me to do vastly more.
  • That notebook (Mac or Windows) will also let you backup and sync music to your iPhone, unlike the iPad.
  • This is the first time I ever seen the "over egged the pudding" expression. What country of origin is it from and what is the exact meaning of the expression?
  • Oh right. Not sure which country it comes from but it means to over do something by trying too hard and then spoil it.
  • Has to be a British one, pudding and Britain like a horse and carriage!
  • Yep, British expression exactly as described; spoiling something by trying too hard.
  • Buuut, to play devils advocate, for a lot of people the iPad alone does everything they need, and would ultimately be a cheaper and simpler solution. A large number of iPad users I know do not own any other Apple products, and typically aren't power users of a smartphone or standard computer. As for more serious business, I still stand behind the iPad Pro when it comes to design work. It's an incredibly powerful, accurate, and versatile drawing tablet while also being an entire personal computer of its own. Until the Mac can do that, I'm buying the iPad Pro as a companion. Granted there's Wacom's stuff, but I find it very hard to justify the price and lack of features compared to the iPad Pro. (unless you need one of the 20" ones) It's really easy to dismiss something based off your own personal use cases. So while the 4.7" iPhone & notebook works well for you, I find no need for a notebook as I use an iMac for all my normal computing needs & use a 9.7" iPad Pro as my "notebook" in the rare event that I need to do some work outside of my studio. With that said, I also was not normally a contender for needing an iPad. I normally only ever need my iPhone 6S + when I'm out and about. But with the pencil abilities of the Pro I was sold because its a great tool for use at my desk as well as on the go. I used to own an iPad Mini a few years back and had gotten rid of it because I never really used it. I guess what I'm getting at is that everyone who's invested in these things more so than the average user has really specific needs. However, for average consumers the iPad really could be the perfect computing device.
  • Agreed with much of what Collin says. Personally I'm on my third iPad, an Air 2 and will most likely buy the next version of the larger iPad Pro when it comes out. I started with the original iPad then the iPad 3 (first with Retina) and now Air 2. I use a Mac Mini for about 40% of my work, 60% is the iPad. I'd previously always owned a Mac laptop of some kind (2011 Air and then 2014 13" rMBP). I sold the last laptop to a family member because it wasn't getting used. It sat, first for weeks at a time but then for months with practically zero usage. With the first two iPads I used them for reading and email. With release of iOS 9 my Air 2 became a whole new level of useful as I've been incorporating podcast transcripts into my freelance offerings. Split screening with Pages and Apple's Podcast app has been a perfect combination for the task. From there I decided to give website management a go with the iPad. I'd previously tried with Panic's Coda as well as Transmit and various text editors. I never quite got comfortable and always ended back on the Mac. But with split screen, Transmit and a text editor such as GoCo Edit I've finally got a workflow that is as efficient as Coda on the Mac for updates. I manage 10 or so client sites this way with no problem. I've even started using the iPad for some of my graphic design using an app called "Graphic" formerly iDraw. Works very well for vector work and I can use Pixelmator for bitmap. I only use the Mac Mini for work I can't do on the iPad and that percentage is shrinking. So, for me the iPad has become primary and the Mac is back-up. I'll always have at least one Mac but my PREFERRED device is the iPad. It's not a shift I was expecting, it just sort of happened. To be honest I'm still kind of surprised. It was gradual and didn't click into place until the OS did what I needed it to do without extra effort. Another observation is the iPad for non-pros. Nearly all of my extended family use iPads many of them as primary devices. What I've observed is that young people in my family prefer iPhones for casual use and hardly touch Mac or Windows machines unless they must. My siblings and in-laws all in the age range of 30-48 also use iPhones with little to no iPad or Mac/Windows usage. But above 50 years and they are all using iPads exclusively. Many of the older folk would not be using the Internet at all were it not for iPads. For them the iPhone is too small and the computer too much of a hassle. But as has been mentioned, iPads do not get replaced as often as iPhones. The iPads currently being used in my family range from the very first iPad all the way through the Air 2 with the majority being gen 3s and 4s which will not likely be replaced for another year or two. My granny simply does not care if her 4th gen will run the newest iOS. Nor do my parents. They'll continue using them until they stop working or until their OS falls so far behind that they get messages that this or that app is not compatible. Mostly they are using their iOS devices for games, email, messaging, and web browsing. Full blown laptops/desktops are overkill for them. The kids use their iPhones for schoolwork as well. I do wish Apple would do a bit more to promote the iPad. I suspect that there are many folks who could be getting a lot more out of iOS and the iPad form factor than they may realize. But that has always been true of laptops/desktops. In my experience most people never really push themselves to learn the technology they have access to. For example, unless they need it at work they don't have a clue what an email client is. They just use email in a web browser. The notable exception being mobile devices which sort of snuck in not only the email client but adoption of a greater variety of apps because there were easy to buy and install.
  • Michael, I agree with you whole-heartedly. However, I thought I read an article from you indicating only a luke-warm stance on the iPad Pro. I purchased the 12.9" iPad Pro after trying it out, then, before purchasing (about a 5-month gestation period), I read everything article from iMore about the 12.9" Pro. Serenity Caldwell and Rene Ritchie basically closed the deal for me. In closing, I still need my Retina MacBook Pro (15") as I am an Applied Econometrician that needs Parallels for virtualization so I can utilize powerful simulation & forecasting software, not available, either on the Mac and/or the iPad. Sent from the iMore App
  • What I've been doing since the first gen iPad for software like this - especially if it's a VM say hosted at a data centre is ideal over your home (but stil 100% doable) VPN + RDP or vnc depending on what OS you are trying to access. Does wonders. RDP client does some tricky fake realtime stuff which helps you /tricks you that there's no lag and most apps work as if you're running them locally. Some mouse heavy drawing and design tools won't work well though. Anything like text entry, ticket systems, excel etc work fine though now the gap has been closed for many or most of those since the first model.
  • I think part of Apples reluctance to push the iPad Pro's contextual value is a concern of what it might do to their other platforms. I to, carry my iPad pro around and use it as "my mobile" computer. Apple is walking a "product" tightrope with overlapping products (iPads, MacBooks, Macbook Air and Macbook Pros.) They may be adding functionality slowly to see how the product mix tips out.
  • I think that Apple very much needs to stop worrying about iPads competing with Macs if that is indeed the problem. They really need to step up and improve iOS for the iPad Pro. I use my 12.9" iPad Pro every chance I get because it is nearly as powerful as my MacBook Air (which is admittedly a few generations old) but the weird limitations do nothing to help me recommend it to others. The larger Pro is pretty expensive to have such obvious limitations. I plug in a USB stick into the "camera" adapter and it won't read except from a single, oddly named camera directory (DCIM) and it will only see photos. Is it really too much to ask for an iCloud Drive or Dropbox style file UI and to be able to read more than just photos. How about Apple disallowing Pythonista from being able to "Open In...". Is this kind of limitation still necessary? The limitation is stupid since it is trivial to work around. All it does is create an annoyance for people trying to do work (in this case automating repetitive tasks). Stop putting weird limits on developers. I have no problem with a curated App Store but block malicious and just plain bad software. Don't mess with legitimate developers. I could go on but probably don't need to since most people have a pretty good sense of iOS limitations. If Apple wants a pro iPad they need iOS Pro software.
  • If there's any company that doesn't worry about cannibalization, it's Apple. I suggest reading this article on Phil Schiller's theory of Apple's product line to get a good idea http://www.aboveavalon.com/notes/2015/12/02/the-grand-unified-theory-of-...
  • Quick correction to previous post: "I read every article . . ." Sent from the iMore App
  • Nope. The biggest issue is iOS is iPhone centric. iPad needs its own OS that's more desktop like and less phone like. Then I'd be in. Sent from the iMore App
  • I wish the "back to my Mac" feature would be added to the iPad.
  • I would rather iOS be updated with more desktop-style features that the iPhone can share
  • This so much. I love my iPad Pro but I would LOVE for the OS to be more iPad centric and really allow the extra screen space to shine.
  • This. There's no way I could purchase or recommend an iPad Pro over a Surface or Surface Pro Tablet that costs near the same price. The Software Library of Windows, even beyond the "monopolies" in their respective markets gives reason for the powerful hardware in those devices. The iPad Pro feels like some good hardware was wasted by putting iOS instead of OS X on it. I also think that the issue isn't so much that they need to add desktop features into iOS, it's that they did't want to put OS X on tablets because it would have damaged developer support IRT the iPhone. Developers would have simply developed more OS X apps instead of iOS Apps in many cases, and Apple wants the App Store to remain a key selling point for the iPhone. I still feel like the iPad exists only to help the iPhone remain in the position it currently is in. Clearly you don't need Phones to grow a Tablet Business (Surface) and you don't need Tablets to be a smash hit to grow a phone business (Android), but Apple want the iPad to stay there to give more security to the iPhone and provide an additional vector for bringing more users over to the iPhone.
  • I'm actually not surprised it didn't do as well ask expected. All the iPad pro brought was a larger screen, a beefed up processor, and the ability to attach a keyboard (or other) accessory without the need for bluetooth, and use a pen. That's it. My iPhone 6s Plus can do pretty much everything it can do, barring screen real estate of course... and it can even make calls without having to add on a cellular extension. When you consider something like the Surface that can run full desktop apps for often a fair fraction of the cost of an iPad, which is limited to the app store functions only, then it's really not hard to see why the perceived value doesn't justify the cost.
  • The Surface does a lot, but it doesn't do a lot well, and many of the desktop apps aren't optimised for touch-screen devices
  • I'd have to wholeheartedly disagree that it doesn't do a whole lot well. My Surface 3 has done everything I've thrown at it quite well, whereas it was always a headache to be as productive on my iPad Air. No desktop apps have given me trouble (e.g. file transfers and a general file manager, to name a two), as I often don't use the touch screen unless to write/draw or make quick selections or do reading. Love my iPhone but any of my previously owned iPads are limited in scope of use by iOS... and I could just do THOSE things on my iPhone anyway.
  • While your comment is valid, for mass market users though, they don't need advanced things like file transfer etc. For most people, if their laptop dies, the iPad (Air or Pro) are great alternatives as replacements. As great as the iPhone 6S Plus is, the larger real estate of the iPad's really are necessary for prolonged used by average users (e.g. Watching movies, surfing websites, etc).
  • "most people" "mass market users" "average users" Lots of vague terminology there to cover up a fairly broad generalization. Microsoft's Surface Business is growing. The PC market is growing again. Contrary to popular belief, the people who use Laptops and Surfaces do a lot more than Watch Movies, Surf Websites, etc. on their PCs. Have you ever been to a coffee shop or college campus lately?
  • Transmit app by Panic Inc.
  • Much better to just plug the MicroSD Card, USB Thumb Drive, or External Hard Drive in... This is something my HTC One M8 can do, but my iPhone 6S+ fails at. That's almost excusable for a smartphone. It's not excusable for a $800+ tablet (for which you need paid accessories, and even then the user experience is rather poor).
  • The Surface is a true laptop replacement. Where it falls short IMO is using it as a tablet. The iPad Pro really needs to add mouse/trackpad support. Yes I suppose you could look at the display as a giant trackpad but it's not the same. An iPad Pro is ALWAYS in tablet mode.
  • For me, the iPad paradox is that Apple (and the author) still believe so fervently that somehow the time of "iPad is the future of computing" is here right now. But to me it could not be further from the truth. I have a 9.7 iPad Pro and I love it. But I love it because it is so much faster and more powerful than my older iPad 3 that it replaced - not because it is so much better than my iMac or my MacBookPro. And that's what iPad will have to be to become my main computer. iPad, or (to be more specific) iOS, is nowhere near being able replace my MacBook Pro/OS X/macOS. There are still so many compromises that come with computing on iOS -- compromises that (no matter how much I love my iPad for certain tasks) always give rise to a frustrating experience. And unfortunately, many of those compromises are by design. So until that gap of compromises (and the frustrations they cause) is closed, there is simply no way that I would ever consider my iPad my main computer. And I suspect that I am not alone in that sentiment.
  • Totally agree. And it's why the iOS 10 presentation was so disappointing from an iPad perspective. Everything was shown for iPhone and then: "Oh by the way... This runs on iPad too." Where are more iPad specific OS features?? Sent from the iMore App
  • Yes - iPad is great for lounging on the couch and reading emails but to actually do anything productive I find it an incredibly frustrating experience (Example: I read this article on iPad but it was impossible to comment - the comments section just didn't appear on the iPad - and even it had writing on the iPad is a horrible experience). Ipad really is NOT the future of computing - there are so many use cases where a computer will be a much better experience - most office or call centre works will really benefit from a great big screen (or two screens) mouse and keyboard. Time for some love from Apple for the Mac range !
  • you May be running an ad blocker or content blocker that you have set to block out comments. I'm on iPad right now, comments loaded no worries.
  • Ok, this is absolutely spot on. I would in fact buy an iPad though IF, Apple would build in some software that would make it a dumb terminal for my Mac.
    I know there are 3rd party alternatives but I want it to be as seamless and easy to use as the built in ScreenSharing.app.
  • have been using VPN + Vnc, RDP, ssh since day 1; it is a great terminal. Paired with a decent keyboard sinc first gen iPad Used to annoy everyone "trick" them I was running XP/OS X / Debian etc all the time. And saved my back from luggin a huge HP for onsite tech work at the time, the iPad and KB could access everything my employer required me to access. First Party vnc client would be nice though. Mocha vnc has not let me down ever and I think I bought it first around the second iPhone era.
  • How Apple hasn't gotten around to building an VNC-type solution into Macs, and offering their own software for it (think RDC + The Client for Microsoft Windows) is beyond me. This is basic stuff for a Professional-class Desktop Operating system, IMO. On Windows you just flip the switch and log into your PC remotely using Microsoft's 1st party client software. The Firewall is automatically configured, etc. Apple could likely also have allowed users to do this to their other PCs linked to their Apple ID over an encrypted connection. Instead, we're getting... "Your Desktop and Documents Folder in iCloud Drive..." Really, now..? On a Mac it's a Linux-like search for solutions for things that should be built into the OS by the developer (particularly as these things have security implications). Then again, there's a reason why Windows is dominant in the Business/Enterprise desktop computing world.
  • "For some time we've heard Tim Cook talk about how iPad sales were going to increase. But that hasn't happened. And it's puzzling." No, Michael, it isn't, for 3 simple reasons. (1) the iPad is fairly well saturated for a tablet, (2) iPad sales cadence is more like a PC/laptop than a phone... a two or three year-old iPad is still perfectly functional. (3) The top-end iPad Pro model can cost as much or more than a MBA, Mac mini and the entry-level 4K iMac. If you opt for the accessories and LTE, you can spend more than the price of 2.8Ghz 4k iMac in some places. That's quite the investment, and not something most people would be willing to shell out for every year or two.
  • I just don't think iPad is a priority for Apple. When they talked up the "it can replace a PC" angle at the 9.7" Pro event, I expected to see TV ads similar to the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" campaign. Ads that explain why it's a great PC replacement/alternative. I can't think of a single ad for the Pro line other than the astronomy ad back when the 12.9" was introduced. We see lots of ads for Apple Watch and new iPhone features, but very little for iPad.
  • One thing you have to remember is that a lot of the general consumers only use the iPad for basic internet browsing or gaming, and that they don't usually take it out on contract like people do with iPhones. This means that they don't upgrade them nearly as often, and then there's obviously the fact that the iPhone is a more popular product than the iPad.
  • I've owned the first two iPads, 3 iPhones, and a Mac Book. I use my Surface Pro attached to a 27" monitor and assorted peripherals most of the time. My iPhone 6+ goes with me everywhere, as well as the Surface Pro mostly for reading Kindle books. Being something of a seasoned citizen at 71 I find I like a big screen. I'm thinking of upgrading my monitor to a 32" model. Even a 12.9" iPad Pro can't use a mouse, access the file system, and install and run multiple virtual machines as can most any laptop. If one mostly uses social media, email, and pictures, then an additional iPad Pro is a great idea if price is little object, as it is for Steven Sinofsky and Tim Cook. I just priced a fully equipped iPad Pro and it came out to about $1,700 before taxes. I could buy an excellent thin, light, and powerful computer for that much, with a mouse and it would run most any MS or Apple software. The Pro seems like a luxury item to me. I would also like to have a Tesla just to drive around town in. Sadly, I can't afford it.
  • Just out of curiosity, what accessories are you buying for that thing? iPad Pro 128 gb with Cellular $1,079 / 256 $1,229
    Apple Pevcil $99
    Apple Smart Keyboard $149 (Flip Cover $49)
    Apple Case (back) $69
    Media SD Adaptor $39
    AV HDMI Adaptor $49 You'd need to buy the most expensive model and pretty much all of the accessories to get to that.
  • I'd have to disagree with this article. I've owned a 12..9" iPad Pro since launch, and while I personally love it, it cannot replace what a full fledged computer can do. I agree with a lot of the comments above that the iPad Pro needs its own OS, separate from the iPhone. I think that would put more interest in people's minds about purchasing it. In reality, while my iPad Pro has a big, awesome screen and great speakers, it really can't do anything that an iPad Air can't do, albeit the Pro can do it faster. My wife has an iPad mini, and there isn't anything she can't do (say for some little things like split screen that she doesn't need anyway) on it that I can do on my iPad. I use my iPad as a daily travel device and a home entertainment device. I enjoy the ergonomics of it and think its a great way to do some light work or to browse the web and listen to music, watch movies, etc.. But in reality its not a replacement for a computer, and unless Apple changes the OS it never will be.
  • Agree about making iPad specific changes to iOS. Regarding the fact that it cannot replace the PC, what tasks is it not capable of for the average user? It seems tasks like surfing the web, social media, lighter gaming, watching movies/YouTube, listening to music, writing papers, etc are typical tasks the average user requires and are implemented well on iPads (external keyboards ease the relevant experiences further).
  • any product that requires one to explain why it's useful is a failure. couple that, as others said, that the iPad is the ******* stepchild of iOS and you have a great recipe for declining sales the post pc revolution will be done with the iPhone rather than the iPad.
  • iMore has explained why the iPhone, Mac, Apple TV, AirPort etc. are useful. It's just information, not a defensive attack. As much as the iPad doesn't always seem to get as much love as the iPhone, the iPad does have a few advantages over the iPhone. It has more gestures, Picture-In-Picture, Split View, and the iPad Pro has the Pencil which the iPhone doesn't have, at least yet
  • I'm not exactly sure where I stand here, but here's my personal situation and take on it. I've been using my iPad Air since it came out in 2013. Shortly thereafter it became my only computer, aside from my iPhone. I have the cellular model so I can go everywhere with it and still get online to do most of what I'd want, with limits, thanks to cellular plan limits. But in recent months I've been really missing the ability to have a much larger screen for my computing and online entertainment uses. And nothing is available on the iPad. I've come around to thinking maybe a light weight laptop would better serve my needs now.
    I could have a larger external monitor.
    I could still fulfill all my computing and entertainment needs.
    I could use iTunes on my computer for all its benefits, which are unavailable on iOS.
    It would likey cost me less than a fully equipped, top of the line iPad Pro.
    I would still retain mobility.
    With iPhone 7 Plus, I'd seldom need an iPad or MacBook anymore. Just use my computer at home or in the office. Thereby making me more mobile again. There are likely other advantages too, but as you can see, in my situation, upgrading to the iPad Pro just isn't a necessity to me any more. In reading a number of other comments here, I don't feel I'm the only person seeing things in this fashion either. Apple needs to do more with the iPad OS, open up the ability to use external monitors, as well as lots of other features, and get the price point in line a bunch. Just my 2¢. :-)
  • "I could use iTunes on my computer for all its benefits, which are unavailable on iOS." What benefits are not available on iOS ?
  • iTunes in a PC or a Mac can be used for backup purposes. Music and photos can be moved from an iPhone to the computer. Search for new apps in the App Store via a computer is a better experience than going to the App Store app on iOS. Just naming a few to answer your question, hopefully. Thanks fir the reply.
  • Agreed about the backup. For me, the last remaining task I absolutely need my MacBook for on a weekly basis is backing up photos and videos from my various iDevices. In particular, video (due to its large file size) is the main item to back up. I realize online backup is available, but I'm still uneasy with potential privacy/security issues that may crop up, and hence I choose to backup to the MacBook. Also, it seems costs are prohibitive for large files sizes of videos (of which I take a lot of). But otherwise, I use my iPad 95% of the time at home, and the MacBook for very specific tasks that crop up once in a while (backup and printing stuff, though the latter can/will be solved when I get an AirPrint printer after the current one dies). My bet is the future shifts to iPad-like devices for the mass market (in addition to smartphone-like devices for uses on-the-go) while "professionals" (whatever it may mean, though certainly programmers are included), who require full fledged PCs/Macs, will have them as well.
  • The more I think about it, the more I lean towards replacing my 15" MacBook Pro with a combination of 12.9" iPad Pro and a Mac Mini (if they ever update it).
  • That would work well as a combination. My thought is that if you have a computer that then the iPad is a great compliment to have. The portability of it is fantastic and its a great item to have out with you when you don't want to carry around (or don't need) a full fledge laptop.
  • I hate that they make you choose between an iPad or a Macbook (or spending a fortune on both, and having to keep track of the two separate machines).... .....but that gripe behind me, I agree with you. While in that theoretical "perfect vacuum", I think I'd significantly prefer a Macbook over an iPad, in a world where you have a Mac already - even if you also have an iPhone, but ESPECIALLY if you don't, and you're only going to buy the one or the other, I agree, the iPad's the way to go! p.s. I'm in a similar boat as you are talking about getting on: I have a circa mid-2014 revision Mac Mini (the latest version, sadly) that I got in February of this year - it's what I'm typing this on, in fact, and I have an iPad Air2 that we got almost exactly a year earlier. And they are what has replaced my very aged late-2009 17" Macbook pro which finally crapped after all these years. :-)
  • I have a similar setup with a 15" MacBook Pro purchased several years ago. I intend to use it as long as I can (10 years?), and in the meantime, purchase either iPads or iPad Pros and use them as primary devices. Ever since the iPads came out, the replacement cycle for my PCs have lengthened. I used to upgrade laptops every 5 years, but do hope the MacBook Pro can last 10 years. Part of it is because I use the MacBook less and less, and the other part is in preventing my tech budget from exploding.
  • Honestly, it really hasn't left my desk since I stopped working for Geek Beat and even then I was a pain to actually take anywhere. Space and connectivity were issues and I ended up just using my iPhone most of the time because it had a cellular connection and leaving the $2300 MBP in my bag.
  • I would never buy a Mac Mini, but if the iPad Pro (the big one) could actually be used as a screen replacement for OS X, I would buy one in a heartbeat and probably buy a new Mac Pro to run it. so that's about $6-$7,000 worth of sales to Apple if they would enable this one, very basic and obvious functionality but .... they haven't. I present this of further evidence of my theory that Apple seriously has no idea what it's doing lately.
  • My main phone is an iPhone, and I'm reading and replying to this from my Mac (it is at this stage difficult for me to say whether my Mac, or my Windows 10 "Gaming PC" is my "primary computer" at this point, though at least for the moment, the PC's getting more use.) I have an iPad. It's not a Pro, it's an Air 2, but still, it gets less use than any of these devices. Heck it even gets less use than my cheapie little $225 11" off-brand generic little Windows 10 2-in-1 (Nextbook Flexx 11, to be precise). Obviously, I see the value in the iPad, and mine certainly does bring me joy when I use it. It's between it and the iPhone for best screen in the house, and I've certainly found ways and times to work it into my digital life. I'd be quite sad if I were to ever find myself bereft of it...... .....but I could never see it becoming my primary computer. Even the pro, which I have had a chance to play with a bit, and can see the added value and charm of.....even that.....I don't think I could ever see becoming my primary computer. iOS is just too limited of an OS to make a full desktop experience out of, and even with as sophisticated as iOS apps are getting, there's just no replacing the flexibility and fluidity of a desktop environment (be that Mac or Windows....or Linux, even.) And there's just no substitute for the power user or enthusiast. Maybe I'm just behind the times, I don't know. But I just can't see a mobile OS and mobile apps becoming a satisfactory permanent replacement for traditional Mac and Windows experiences for me. As one who has some degree of presence in all three of the major tech ecosystems (and dabbles just a teensy bit in Linux to boot), I can say that there are things that I absolute adore about all three, as well as things I absolutely despise. And except perhaps for how laughable the Mac platform is as a gaming platform, I think my #1 beef with Apple is the clash between MacBooks and iPads. One has half the magic, the other has the other half, and each lack the other's. Oh, sure, you can simply buy both and resolve the problem that way, but they're both significantly expensive alone, and pretty darn prohibitive when put together. And even in having both, it's still in two separate devices, and like having your life on two separate islands. I think it's an incredibly unsavory approach. That's why I find a Surface (or its myriad of cheapie clones) to be so much more attractive than anything else out there in tech, frankly. It's a changeling, a shapeshifter. It can be a full-on laptop, or a full-on tablet, and all points in-between. Now, I suppose the counterargument is how useful really is Windows 10 as a tablet at this point, to which I say......touché - but still. :-) Anyway, over the river, and through the woods to the point I get: a) I can't see an iPad being my main squeeze. I just can't. b) I REALLY strongly dislike the "dissonance" in the product line at the portable non-phone space, and would very much like to see them find a way to make a device that truly serves both. Because I'm not paying to have both. As long as I either have a Mac, or lose/trade/surrender my iPhone, it'll be an iPad (otherwise, and in the "theoretical vacuum", it'd be a Macbook.) Cheers!
  • I certainly don't think you're behind the times. But I think iPads wouldn't become a primary computer for you primarily because you're a power user who sees (and already enjoys and really needs) the benefits of certain tasks that you use the PC for. And that certainly makes a lot of sense. But I do think the average user who isn't, for example, running FTPs/SFTPs, torrents, VPNs, etc will find iPad-like devixes to be easier to use, and more importantly, require much less maintenance going forward. I've successfully used the iPad to replace the PC for my folks for several years now. My mom's Lenovo laptop "died" for her, and when I visited in person, I found out "died" means that it was so slow to be unusable. The problem was because she accidentally clicked yes to the "free Windows 10 upgrade" promotion on her Windows 8 machine. So it upgraded on its own, and it really is unusable at this point (the video driver couldn't load correctly so it's stuck on 1080x720). I tried to fix it but got frustrated because Lenovo's display drivers were impossible to download and install. In the end, being tired of being IT support, I just got her an AirPrint enabled printer so she could just use the iPad going forward (printing was the last task she absolutely needed the laptop for). It's working quite well, and I'm glad that future It support tasks will be lower for me since the iPad has been so rock solid for she for the past 3 years already (and just got her an iPad Air 1, so that'll last another 3-5 years before an upgrade is needed).
  • Well that was just a little condescending. Those that can't replace their PC or Mac with an iPad just don't get it? Seriously? Maybe they don't want to buy yet another device that largely will do the same tasks that their current device performs. Not to mention, iPad is not a suitable replacement depending on the type of work you do. Writers on tech sites always go on about how
    much work they're getting done on their iPad, and how it should do the same for others. Maybe word processing is something an iPad can do just fine, but for many others that require applications that are not available for iPad or suffer from not having a mouse for input, the iPad is not even close to being a suitable replacement. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think it's easy to see that Apple's problem is not so much "selling" folks on the iPad as a tool, but selling them on the idea that it needs to be a vastly *expensive* tool. For the majority of users, iPads and iPhones are tools that are only used for the most casual of uses. They watch a movie occasionally, they do their email or cruise the web but that's it. Thus the iPhone and the iPad are about $800 more expensive, than other tools that do the same thing. That's the real sales problem imo. Also, Apple artificially keeps the products separated. I am forced to buy a $1000 phone and a $1000 tablet every year if I want to keep up with the latest innovations, but if I could have the phone app on my iPad, I wouldn't need to buy the phone at all. Apple won't allow this. Also, my device of choice, that works the best for me, is iPad mini, but for some reason, Apple always treats mini owners like second class citizens. We have to pay $1000 a year, but remain one year *behind* the other iPads, for no real reason at all. Finally, Apple refuses to break out "specialty" or "pro" devices from their line-up, so an iPad mini that works better for thumb typing is out, because that would make it asymmetrical and different looking from the rest. It might make it hard for Grandma to find her recipes on, even though it would make it a true "pro" device, as opposed to the "fake" pro-ness of the current lineup. Apple has no real idea what it's doing and is just punching buttons and hoping it all works out at this point. They don't have any design leadership anymore now that Jobs is dead and Jony Ive can't provide this.
  • "but if I could have the phone app on my iPad, I wouldn't need to buy the phone at all. Apple won't allow this." They do. It's called Universal Apps. If a specific app that you use does not support this feature, contact the developer.
  • The timing of this article is impeccable! I'm sitting in a restaurant with my 12.9" iPad Pro on the table using my ASK when a lady stops by my table to ask if I'm using the Surface. I explain that I'm using the iPad Pro when she proceeds to tell me that she has a Surface at home, but she never uses it. She said it's just too complicated to use. IMO, this is a person who could benefit from an iPad. I love my Pro, but I have an opinion as to why the iPad is a tough sell based on the comments here and other tech sites I frequently visit. The first is the desktop paradigm. I believe this is primarily an issue for older users who have been "raised" on the traditional method of mouse/keyboard input and file systems. For many of these users you will never be able to disengage them from years of practiced workflows, and nothing short of a full blown desktop OS will be sufficient. That's not to denigrate anyone...it's just human nature to work within one's comfort zone. My second opinion is based on observations that I make from hanging out at the Apple area of my local Best Buy way too much. I find myself assisting at least one customer with their questions related to the iPad on every visit. Seriously, my wife wants me to ask for compensation. Most of the questions have to do with functionality of the device. I repeatedly hear the same comments about the iPad being nothing but a giant iPhone. This where some modification of the iPad homescreen would be useful. I suggest Apple take advantage of the extra screen real estate and make the springboard more than just an app portal for iPads. The bottom line is that the iPad needs to be able to sell itself without the assistance of a salesperson or crazy random customer. Personally, I am in love with my Pro. I did a lot of back-to-back comparisons using the MacBook and iPad Pro before settling on the Pro. I haven't used my MBA in the six months that I've owned the Pro. I work in a Windows office but still use my Pro as my primary computer. My Windows laptop sits in its docking station and I use Parallels whenever I need to perform analysis using pivot tables in Excel, or need to do statistical work in Minitab. I do run into hiccups now and then, but I'm a tinkerer by nature and have fun finding workarounds and building new workflows. I know it sounds cliche, but there is a real joy I experience in using this device. I'm looking forward to what future iOS updates have in store for the Pro series.
  • Apples silence on the iPad is golden. They will need to sell a much more pricey item, the future Macs.
  • "iPad really is the next big thing, and iOS 10 makes it even more so." Is this serious? iOS 10 adds barely anything to iPad, and actually makes some things less usable. The new notification UI is awful, as the window is the same size as on iPhone and does not use the available width of the iPad like iOS 9 did. To me, its very clear iOS 10 on iPad is adapted from the iPhone, instead of them focusing on the amount of screen space available to them and designing from the ground up, even if some differences are noticeable. This is the key to making iPad a bigger success. Take greater advantage of the size, as it's still mostly a blown up iPhone.
  • People like the iPad Pro because it is new, wait 2 years and see if you still like it. 5 years from now will the battery hold a charge, will Apple even support it with iOS 15? Spending $1,000 every 2 years to ride the Apple fanboy wave is outside the comfort zone of most people's spending limits. There is some value to being able to resell a device and use the money towards the next one, but not everyone wants to deal with the fear of returns and scammers that pervade eBay and Amazon Marketplace. I've ridden the wave of Apple]s new hotness myself with the 1st generation Mac Mini and poly-carbonate MacBook, got bitten both times first with the deprecating of PowerPC then with deprecating of 32-bit. No need to buy a device that will be useless in 2 years, rather buy a PC that lasts 5+ and runs laps around the performance of every tablet on Earth for a quarter of the price.
  • Mine has all but 'replaced' my trusty old 2013~ Air, that machine sits there neglected ;_; until I need either Xcode or Sketch. Sketch is terrific but the Pencil supported apps for the iPad are far nicer to do initial work in, similar to playgrounds you can jot something down then polish it off on the Mac. Since scrivener for iOS dropped, I paired a Mac keyboard to my air and started writing a review of it, using it. Mum in laws MBP 3,1 17" just bought the farm, and I'll be recommending that she gets the larger iPad Pro with a pencil, she paints a lot and I think she will looooooove art rage and some of the proper Paint Sim apps too. Very few of us now require a Truck PC. And even then we don't need them that often.
  • I've read a number of comments and have the following observations:
    1. If the Microsoft tablets serve your purpose best, just use them.
    2. If the iPad Pro is not a MacBook (Air, Pro) replacement for you, so be it. I have been using Apple products since I switched from PCs after Intel Macs arrived on the scene. Apple's incremental approach to delivering a new product is understandable to me:
    1. Try to implement too many features too soon and you end up with a very buggy, unstable result, with a high cost for the device.
    2. As use cases become known, that, I would guess, helps guide the emphasis on development & delivery.
    3. As the product (could be hardware or software/apps) matures, so does the cost and availability/do-ability of the technology. I have not detected a 'planned obsolescence' strategy on Apple's part, but rather the desire to produce a high quality product. As some long-time Apple writers/users have noted, the quality appears to be slipping. Well, Apple, is indeed, attempting to provide more products, features, apps more quickly! I accept the nicks in Apple's armor and know they will find an acceptable balance here. Am I an Apple-holic? Indeed I am. Sent from the iMore App
  • (I didn't read all preceding comments.) In my opinion (so yours may differ) a tablet (any tablet) combines these two selling points:
    - controls available as needed (like typewriter keyboard, piano keyboard, shutter button), in software or in connectable hardware;
    - easy to change between portrait and landscape orientation.
    Screen size could be considered a third selling point: large enough to provide at least an overview of a sheet of paper (Letter/A4). The added selling point for the iPad is its place in the Apple ecosystem. I actually entered that ecosystem through the iPad 2. (I'm almost daily using Android, Windows and Linux too. And OS X.) If you don't switch device orientation as often as I do, if you don't read that many documents or websites, you may not see the niche between smartphone and notebook. If you do, but can't afford to fill it, you may divide the tasks between these devices. You may choose a larger smartphone, or a smaller notebook. To illustrate the importance of orientation for me:
    I have the larger iPad Pro, with a Create case. I love the Create for typing, but not for swapping the iPad in and out. So it feels like a fixed-orientation device to me, and as a result I hardly use it. It gets squashed between my iPad Air 2 (that I'm tapping this on) and my 11" MacBook Air. The upcoming file system may well make that iPad take tasks from that MacBook.
  • I have the the iPad Pro, Pencil and Smart Keyboard. The Pencil is great mouse substitute.
    I really like it, but certainly there are many comparable products on the Market.
    And typing on a tiny keyboard and tapping a tiny screen in some cases is not ideal, but it works.
    Why can Apple take existing technology , reinvent it and cause me to like it?
    I could buy a Chromebook Pixel-C or a Surface but the Apple one works the best...yet the concept is the same.
    Is it the ecosystem?
    Or the large fan base?
    Or the support?
    Or the quality? Sent from the iMore App
  • Ultimately I think whether or not an iPad (Pro, Air, or Mini) can replace your Mac/PC comes down to what you use the Mac/PC for. Me? I'm a web developer. I use BBEdit, Transmit and Terminal daily, along with (now that I've dumped Adobe) Pixelmator, Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. There ARE roughly equivalent apps on iOS for all of these features, and I do own and use them. The two main reasons I can't switch full-time to iOS are 1) the inconvenience of not having direct access to the file system, and 2) the lack of a physical keyboard. That's it. (Yes, there are keyboards for the iPad, but attaching a separate keyboard is, to me, far more cumbersome and clumsy than just using a MacBook Air.) I think my iPad Mini is great. I love the instant syncing of Notes between my iOS devices and my Mac. I bring it to meetings instead of my MacBook Air for just that reason. And when I travel for pleasure, I don't want to bring my Mac and potentially be tethered to work. So again I bring my iPad Mini. Thanks to apps like Diet Coda, Transmit and Prompt (all from Panic!), I can use my iPad Mini to troubleshoot any issue that might come up with my work... but it's precisely BECAUSE it's just slightly too tedious and inconvenient to use for coding that I bring the iPad. It ensures that I only do work in an emergency. In other words... it's not even close to being a replacement for my Mac.
  • Room34, I'm also a web developer using Affinity, Pixelmator and Panic stuff. I've given up on iOS Coda because I prefer to keep local files in sync with server files. My solution is to use a text editor called GoCoEdit which lets me edit my html files directly on DropBox (I keep all my websites synced to Dropbox for easy access on Mac or iPad). I split screen with Transmit and can easily open the same html file on the server. I edit the Dropbox file then copy paste to Transmit. Easy! The only real downside to this workflow is the lack of site wide find/replace which I still go to Coda on the Mac for. But all other changes are easily done via GoCoEdit/Transmit. While Transmit is a bit clunky in that it only allows one file open for editing at a time GoCoEdit has a tabbed interface allowing me to keep multiple documents open. Anytime I go back to Coda on the Mac I know my "local" files are already in sync not only on the Mac but also with the server.
  • I admit I don't get the iPad. My 76 year old father loves it and uses it as his main computer. That's because all he does is web and email, and maybe creates a letter in Pages once in awhile. He is often frustrated when he wants to watch a video and he doesn't have Flash though. That is still a big problem for iPad users. A developer cannot simply rely on an iPad. There is no way for me to do the work I do most on an iPad. I have a hard time even blogging on the iPad when it comes to adding images in the post. I have to save images to the camera roll and then attach it. Things like that are so much simpler on a computer (desktop or laptop). I also think Apple is right about the gorilla arm syndrome. If the iPad had a touchpad for scrolling perhaps I'd find it easier to use. Holding my arm out there to touch the screen just slows me down. I'm so much faster on a computer of any kind. So maybe for the person who just wants to browse the web and do email, they might find the iPad or iPad Pro sufficient. Everyone else still needs a computer.