Many years ago, back before Steve returned to Apple, he was asked what he thought about Apple, the Mac and what he would do to ‘save’ it.
If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.
This was 1996 and it’s tempting to think that the iPad is envisaged by the current incumbents, as the next great thing.
But Apple’s own sales figures say otherwise. As Marco’s article points out, it’s been 7 years and sales peaked 3 years ago.
Many have said that the lacklustre figures are due to the buying cycle, i.e. the iPad is more like a computer than a phone and has a 4-5 year replacement cycle.
I’d tend to agree – I still use an original iPad mini, and although it’s a bit slow, in all other regards it’s fine for what I use it for.
Right there is the point – what you use it for.
The reason why the iPad’s sales are poor, is because despite Apple’s efforts, customers aren’t using it as their main computing device and replacing their ‘trucks’ with them.
Customers have a habit of doing that – they tell you how they use your product, not the other way around.
You’d think Apple would realise this and act accordingly, as they have had their fingers burnt with the Apple Watch.
The initial launch pushed the device in one direction, but after the data came in, version 2 changed direction and concentrated on fitness.
So why don’t they do this with the iPad?
Accept the way customers want to use it and build on that?
Instead of listening to customers, their answer has been, “we will just make it more pro” towit, a ‘pro’ version and pencil input.
And still sales fall.
There’s a simple dynamic at work here. Customers would accept the iPad as their main computing device, if the Mac (or the Windows PC for that matter) didn’t exist.
But they do.
Any, (and I do mean ANY) task is easier, quicker, more efficient and less frustrating to do on a device that has a big screen, a keyboard and a mouse.
We really did hit gold here. A screen, keyboard and mouse is the answer, there is nothing better and the iPad will never replace them.
So what should Apple do with the iPad?
I do admit that a multi touch OS is the future, but something like the Microsoft Surface Studio is closer to that future than any current iPad.
But we’re not going to get there by simply releasing a hobbled device that can’t do any task better than the device it’s designed to replace.
When it was first released, the Mac didn’t replace the job that it now currently does.
It was a slow process, and it started by replacing the things it could do better first, and slowly adding, to the point where the entire design process was done digitally.
It took years, partly because of technological constraints, but also because you had to prove to the consumer that the Mac was better.
The iPad needs the same approach.
In order to replace the Mac, it has to work alongside it, helping it do certain tasks, replacing jobs that the Mac did because it can do them better.
Here’s a few examples:
Why can’t I attach a written note to a folder on the Mac? This is something I would literally do dozens of times per day and would help me immensely.
Why can’t I draw alterations on a PDF that’s on the iPad screen and have this mirrored on the Mac’s screen?
Why can’t the iPad see the Macs file system and open files from the Mac?
Why can’t I start a design on the iPad and then throw it to the Macs screen? Adobe has shown Apple the way here.
If the iPad worked with the Mac instead of trying to replace it today, Apple would have a better chance of of being part of the future of computing.
If they don’t, by the time they get their Microsoft will have beat them to it.