Jean-Louis Gassée: Asking if iPad Pro is a laptop replacement is the wrong question

“From birth, the iPad has been the strangest, most misunderstood animal in the Apple zoo: a furry, egg-laying, lactating, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed creature, the company’s very own platypus, apparently put on Earth to confuse computer industry naturalists,” Jean-Louis Gassée writes for Monday Note.

“Initially, the iPad quenched a thirst created by three decades of sometimes spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to implement a dangerously obvious, preordained idea: a tablet computer. As a result, it grew spectacularly fast – at first,” Gassée writes. “[But, in recent quarters], sales of the iPad — and tablets in general — have continued to decline. Some blame ‘longer replacement cycles’ for this perplexing and persistent trend. Allow me to translate: We use our iPhones all the time and everywhere, much less so our iPads. As a result, new iPads aren’t as compelling as new iPhones and we ‘trade up’ our iPads less frequently.”

“I’ve offered a different explanation. Calling the iPad a Tease, I opined that many of us, yours truly included, were seduced into expecting too much from Steve Jobs’ final hardware act, only to be let down by the product’s reality. We wanted the iPad to be a replacement for our traditional personal computers, and we were disappointed. Many tasks such as the creation of an even moderately complex document are more easily performed on a PC,” Gassée writes. “Enter the iPad Pro.”

“[Apple CEO Tim] Cook’s insistence that his iPad Pro is a replacement for his laptop is presumably sincere, but it’s misguided and unnecessary. The equivocations, justifications, and vague statements about the iPad Pro are easily resolved by a For What/For Whom question, by investigating the Job To Be Done,” Gassée writes. “You work with architects, civil engineers, materials, fixture and appliances suppliers, kitchen and bathroom installers. Your iPad Pro is flat on a table while you sketch a design for the architect to flesh out, you scribble annotations on drawings and budgets, you redraw a layout by superimposing a layer on the original. The iPad Pro does more than replace your laptop.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yup.

Ask yourself, “What does the vast majority use a computer for?” Web browsing, email, some word processing, and games. That’s about it. Really. Of course, iPad does all of that and much, much more. — MacDailyNews Take, June 22, 2012

The bottom line today remains the same as when Steve Jobs laid it out over half a decade (!) ago:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm. 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… I think that we’re embarked on that… You know, people laugh at me because I use the phrase “magical” to describe the iPad. But it’s what I really think. You have a much more direct and intimate relationship with the Internet and media, your apps, your content. It’s like some intermediate thing has been removed and stripped away.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, June 1, 2010


  1. In line with MDN’s take on the subject, the iPad certainly can be a laptop replacement for people who use their laptops for “web browsing, email, some word processing, and games.” But it will never be a practical laptop replacement for many others who routinely use their laptops for actual work. There is not a chance in hell that the laptop will be made obsolete by the tablet—any more than the truck has been made obsolete by the car. Steve Jobs’ explanation was sound, but has been widely misinterpreted.

  2. 1. iPad sales dont climb at a rate equivalent to iPhones because they last longer in use between upgrades. Other than speed, what real world uses are so much better with an iPad Air than an iPad gen 2 or 3 or 4.
    2. Phones are evolving faster, they are used more and therefore break or are broken more often and many are tied to 12/24 month upgrade programmes and telco contracts.
    3. Laptop use is document centric not App centric. To work only on an iPad I would want a ‘Desktop’ that would allow me to click files to open the right app and not the app and then hunt for the file.

  3. Exactly! The wrong question!

    The iPad Pro is far far more powerful than any laptop for many tasks, including many professional tasks. That said, there are cases where my laptop is still more appropriate for some tasks.

    The emotional battle some people seem to be having over this question seems strange to me. If you are a professional, an iPad Pro will make you more money than it will cost you in terms of the efficiency of your work, for some tasks. It is also a super portable big screen, and there are apps that let you access your desktop with it from the road. For those tasks where a laptop or desktop machine is better, use it. If you are a Pro, especially a creative Pro, you are going to want both.

    For those who are not pros, and do not want or can not afford both an iPad Pro and a traditional computer, evaluate what you do the most and then you have to make a compromise, because there are some tasks that are just going to be better accomplished on the iPad Pro, and others on a traditional computer, you have to choose which will best meet your needs.

  4. I am one of the ones who, based upon experience and my work, which is web content creation, have mostly abandoned the tablet.

    But: because of the fact that I do have some need to draw some of the artwork pieces, and that need is increasing, I could easily see an IPad Pro with the Pencil.

    But would I do much else with it? Might be great for note-taking and rough concept sketches, but otherwise…..not too likely.

    But I could see it easily paying for itself in those two areas. So here I am an ardent defender of OS X, and thats not going to change. But the right tool for the right job? Very possibly.

    1. You really shouldn’t keep the device plugged in all the time.
      Unless your battery isn’t charging well any longer.
      Yet I understand. Doing this also.
      Agree, the iPad Pro is too new, the problems are not all ironed out – its too large for travelling with – and unless it has telephone capabilities also added it JUST AIN’T PRO enough.

    2. Run OS X and I would think twice.
      If Apple can customize iOS for Apple TV, an version of iOS for Watch and iPad Pro then it can create YET another Fragmentation of its ecosystem for a OS X / iOS hybrid.

  5. Was in the Apple Store yesterday.
    Apple genius said clearly amongst the crowd that Mac Book Air is dead and the iPad Pro is the replacement.
    Not what should be said to customers. Not by him anyways.

    1. Just bought a new MacBook Pro Retina 13 less than 2 weeks ago.

      The new MacBook and MacBook Airs are nice but are crippled with shitty GPUs, weak audio, and are probably slightly overpriced.
      Also cannot get over the single port nonsense with the MacBook.

      Ws planning on getting an iPad Pro, but have decided to hold off and keep my iPad Air 2.

      Your mileage may vary, but I am not a fan of vampire video and single ports.

  6. I don’t know why people keep beating their heads over with what this iPad Pro is meant for. It’s a new tool for sketch artists. Simple as that. Sure, you can watch bigger movies, listen to better sound, and run beefier apps. But, what puts it into pro mode is the details they laid under the screen and the pencil. Every video out there that is reviewing the pencil is giving it strong positive feedback. people are getting ride of their wacoms for goodness sake. It’s just like the imac5k. Not only does it cost the equivalent of a good 4k monitor, but you get a computer to boot! not only do you get a good drawing surface to draw on, but you get the best iPad ever made. I for one do graphic work and have been wanting to get more into sketching. I don’t know when i plan to buy this, but it will be soon.

      1. You’re speaking the language of one of my favorite, personally created, fictional characters. I wish I was ready to post his adventures. But I’m still working on his backstory. Nonetheless, I will mention one of his inventions, The Bilious Blaster, the critical and singular solution to one of Earth’s more insidious and grotesque invaders in AlternaTime. 😉 This is the stuff that keeps me laughing and smiling these days.

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