Joshua Topolsky Trashes iPad As Computer, Only Mostly Right


In a handful of tweets serial tech news site founder Josh Topolsky came down hard on the iPad and its usefulness as a primary computer.

There's a lot here that is true, however much of what is written is a criticism of Apple's current implementation of the iPad Pro, which is restricted by some very nervous baby steps in both hardware and software.

Apple missed the hybrid revolution and unlike previous markets Apple has disrupted (MP3 players and smartphones) by the time it realised there was an opportunity the gap was gone.

Tim Cook and team were guilty of dismissing the Surface and Surface Pro without considering the implications of a version implemented well. Microsoft even gave them a couple of years warning whilst it ironed out its designs.

So when Microsoft launched the Surface and Surface Pro 3 and nailed every parameter necessary to make a hybrid work well and then followed them up with Windows 10, which made them work brilliantly, Apple was caught flat footed.

Whilst every other OEM was able to bring competitive hardware to market by leveraging Microsoft's designs and Windows 10, Apple was left in, what appears to have been, decision paralysis.

Add touch to the MacBook or capability to the iPad? With sales of both falling Apple was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

The iPad Pro was a lash up designed to make the most of a bad situation. Apple have the time to wait and swoop in with a game changing device as it had done in the past. Firstly iPad sales were falling too quickly and perhaps more importantly, Microsoft had left no gaps in the Surface for Apple to leverage.

So the iPad Pro arrived badly conceived and badly executed.

In that respect Topolsky is spot on with his criticism.

However two things should have moderated his criticism. Firstly, we know that Apple has the funds and brains trust to improve the iPad Pro to a point where it is less painful and compromised as a computer and, secondly, that there are a small but growing number of users for whom the iPad can already be a primary computer.

Evidence of the first comes from iOS 11 and the small hardware updates the new iPads received.

Evidence of the second comes from a number of sources: those iPad bloggers and fans who have made it a mission to do so, those for whom the iPad is the only computer they have known and the elderly for whom the iPad is the perfect protection from the horrors of the everyday internet.

In years give by I used to recommend Macs to friends and colleagues who wanted a computer for young children or parents because they were less likely to require hands on support because an unknowing user had done something semi-fatal.

Now that recommendation is an iPad every time.

So yes, I'll agree wholeheartedly that the iPad is worse than a computer on every way, that the Apple Smart Keyboard is garbage and that iOS is a mobile phone platform being made to serve outside of its capabilities. In every single aspect of what it does the iPad Pro lags behind Microsoft's Surface. And HP's Envy and Lenovo's Miix and Acer's Switch Alpha and, and, and... I could go on.

A time will come when all of this is no longer true though and at that point MacOS will die because Apple will need it to. Either the iPad stands as a full computer on its own or Apple abandons the desktop to Microsoft.

Either way the iPad is the future of Apple computers. It's a long journey, but Apple has at least taken the first step. Even if it is a baby one.

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