Steve Jobs was right, of course: Tablets are cars and PCs are trucks

“‘When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm,’ Jobs said at our D8 conference in 2010. ‘But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. … PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of x people,'” John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD.

“At the time that remark was a bit contentious, but like many Jobs predictions, it would prove prescient a few years later,” Paczkowski reports. “To wit, the latest PC shipment forecast from NPD DisplaySearch, which predicts tablets will outship notebooks this year.”

Paczkowski reports, “The consumer tablet market isn’t even three years old yet, but it’s already poised to surpass the market for laptops. And by such a significant amount — nearly 16 percent. Jobs said the day would come when only one out of every few people would need a traditional computer. Hard to believe it’s arriving so quickly.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It was only contentious to those who make/made their livings peddling PCs. It’s not rocket science: The things for which the vast majority of people use/used personal computers is easily accomplished with an iPad. PCs are overkill for the vast majority of people, just like an 18-wheeler is vs. a car/SUV.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “GetMeOnTop” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. PCs (as they are intended to be, PERSONAL COMPUTERS, not Wintel machines) are a necessity for software developers.

    So, us software developers are the farmers, growing the digital food to the consumers, which will be “driving” mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones.

    I already have customers running their business with our software (I’m a software developer) mainly from mobile devices, bypassing IT. It’s cheaper, faster, easier and more convenient to them.

    Being a heavy PC user (MacBook Pro), I see clearly what SJ said back then. No doubt about it. The big hurdle will be the old-fashioned IT department managers. While some IT pros see the future and adapt to it (not all IT people are as they depict them, I know a lot of very smart IT pros), some will try to keep the status quo.

    It happened before when we moved from mainframes to PCs, and it’s all happening again.

  2. This makes sense and it has certainly been my experience that I now use my mobile devices for a lot of the things that I used a notebook for in the past. Of course for the heavy duty writing tasks, a laptop is still my preferred tool but an iPad comes pretty damn close.

    What I see as an emerging requirement though for notebooks or other PCs is to act as servers. I have several mobile devices as does my wife. I am seriously looking at installing the Mountain Lion Server OS so that I can more effectively manage all of these devices.

    With all of these devices, including an Apple TV, I have a lot of content and applications that enable my access to that content. The concept of a server is becoming more and more attractive to me. For that reason, I believe that more of us will be able to justify the use of at least on PC as a server.

  3. I always thought PCs were overkill for most people, but didn’t know what form the Internet appliance should take. Set-top box? Apple set me straight.

    Now, let’s stop calling them tablets and start calling them connected appliances, Internet pads or whatever.

    1. Or how about we just call them “personal computers” and stop pretending they’re something else just because they don’t have a keyboard and mouse? I don’t like how analysts separate “PC sales” from “tablet sales” and then say that Apple is in 5th place or whatever, when Apple is in first place by a mile when you count tablets as what they are…personal computers.

    2. “Now, let’s stop calling them tablets and start calling them […] Internet pads or whatever.”

      Maybe we can eventually shorten that to “i-pads” or even “iPads”. Just a thought 😉

  4. The difficulty in understanding this is because the world of tech sees information and technology through their own eyes. That IS who they are! And it is hard for them to understand that the world doesn’t want to have to run everything through them all the time. Microsoft basically created a myopic and narcissistic industry of tech folks and journalists. There have been a few over the years that did not buy into that, but most did!

  5. PCs are like having sex in the bedroom: iPads are like having sex all over the house. That’s what I tell my very non tech fiends, it’s easer to visualize. One big problem in the press is iPads are not great for heavy typing. This is where PC’s are great and have transformed jobs that required a lot of writing (including accounting). Out in the field PC’s suck and have not created a big change in how things are done. iPads are changing that. Pilots, sales, construction, medical just to name a few are jumping on them. Those who are adapting now will be the leaders in the near future. Writers have a narrow view of the world. Most people don’t have jobs where they sit in a room all day. Comically the people who tend to drive trucks for a living will benefit more from an iPad then those who drive sports cars to work.

  6. … recent resurgence of the pickup truck? No, not the small and cute – and long gone – Cowboy Cadillac or the compact sized (ALSO long gone) tiny Toyotas and Datsuns. I’m talking about the over-sized Fords, Chevys, Rams, Toyotas, and Nissans gulping gas on the open roads. And downtown! While tablets may well outsell micro-computers, that does not mean the micro-computer (“PC”) will go away. The PC did not eliminate the mini-computer (though, mostly) and neither of them eliminated the main-frame or the super-computer – both still doing well!
    Still, while I argue these larger form-factors will continue to exist, possibly even thrive, the Tablet will be the big seller. For a while, at least. Until another Big Thing intrudes.

    1. People drive those comically enormous gas-guzzling Durangos for a lot of reasons like vanity, perceived (yet false) safety advantages, large families, etc. None of those reasons apply to laptops/desktops. If one is choosing a computer based on vanity (what makes me feel and look cool?), safety (from viruses and malware), or large family size (shared computer), they’re going to pick a tablet over a laptop/desktop.

      So I don’t think the fact that gas-guzzler road monsters happen to be popular right now contradicts the message Jobs was trying to convey with his car/truck analogy.

      1. … high-capacity vehicles for any of several reasons. Some worthy, some offensive. Sometimes they are just deluding themselves. However, capacity is part of the question. As is functionality. Those are the factors computers share with rides.
        My own ride is a 2012 Mazda 3i hatch … the high gas milage is unusual for such a roomy, energetic car. A large American may well argue the “roomy” part, and a muscle-car owner might argue its sprightliness, but there’s a LOT of “zoom” for a 35MPG+ (I’ve seen it in the 50s) highway car and a lot of room for that economical and that sprightly a car. You may need more room or more economy, or your ego may need more “go”, so you may need a different ride.

  7. It’s frightening that reading comment sections you can still see that many PC users still don’t understand the Cars v Trucks analogy…mind blowing…all these years later they don’t know what the term Post PC means.

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