Apple’s iPad is again poised for glory

“The iPad launched with great enthusiasm in 2010, and just about everyone had to have one,” John Martellaro writes for The Mac Observer. “It was boldly declared to be the harbinger of the Post-PC era. But then it faltered. Now, Apple is positioning the iPad to take up its long-intended role as the PC replacement.”

“The analysis of the sales slowdown invariably led to the idea that the technology wasn’t changing fast enough and that the constraints of iOS, more and more, were holding the hardware back,” Martellaro writes. “As a result, millions of customers found that their iPad 2 or iPad 3 was “good enough” and there was no practical reason to rush out and replace their iPad every year.”

“The original iPad had just enough horsepower to achieve its goal as a convenient content consumption device. However, as technology has advanced, more and more constraints will be lifted until we get to an inflection point,” Martellaro writes. “Finally, we’ll hit that Plateau of Productivity in which the iPad can begin to grow again, not as a second-screen toy, but as our go-to device. In that case, like the former PC era, keeping up with the hardware and software advances will become essential.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote in May:

This is an illustration of Apple’s inability to move quickly enough with iOS and iPad hardware (lack of RAM, for one example) to provide a reasonable alternative to traditional laptops for certain use cases (until recently; iPad Pro goes a long way to addressing the issues…) As we wrote last December:

Imagine an “iOS Pro” mode.

Turn on iOS Pro on your iPad Pro
1. Tap Settings > General, and make sure iOS Pro is turned on.
2. There is no step two.

Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Shouldn’t such a thing already exist? Where would iPad sales be if it did?

Also, as we wrote in March:

When on the road, we want the ultimate in portability (hence why we’re still carrying 11-inch MBAs until the next-gen 12-inch MacBook arrives) — but we want the 4GB RAM packed into the bigger iPad Pro vs. the reported 2GB in the smaller iPad Pro. Screen redraws due to a lack of RAM have been the stumbling block for us really using iPad in the field since its inception. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro finally has enough RAM.

And, as we wrote in February:

Here’s the thing: The iPad saturated its addressable market so quickly and the iPads are so well made and last so damn long that unless Apple provides a really compelling reason to upgrade, most people are just not upgrading yet. We handed off our original iPads to relatives a couple years ago and they’re still being used! Yes, they lack sensors to support many modern iPad games, but they are still in use. We also have immediate family members still using perfectly working iPad 2, iPad 3, and older iPad Air and mini models. The obsolescence cycle for iPad rivals that of the Mac. It’s very long.

The iPad is not a niche product. It had unprecedented uptake and the devices have such long, useful lives that the replacement cycle still hasn’t really kicked in. When it does — and when the macroeconomy improves to the point where users can consider adding the joys of iPad to their computing lives — then we’ll see iPad unit sales growth again. In the meantime, Apple should redouble their efforts at improving iPad – adding Apple Pencil, Smart Connector, and multi-user support (to mention just three things) that will make the iPad even more appealing to buyers.

Apple is about to make millions of iPads obsolete, which is good news for shareholders – July 20, 2016
Apple needs to scale back iOS compatibility with older devices to accelerate device replacement – May 4, 2016
iPad 2: Five years later, it keeps chugging along – April 28, 2016
When will Apple’s iPad sales finally bottom out? – February 4, 2016


  1. Here is an idea – how about actually making it useful enough to replace the laptop? It needs a file system that can transfer in and out and the ability to use the files instead of being locked up requiring jumping through hoops to use a file. How about the ability to play all types of media instead of trying to prevent that so only iTunes can be used to keep people paying Apple? Release iOS to do what people need and it will sell more than ever before. The power and battery life are now there, and people will not abandon laptops. Apple is just determined to cripple the iPad for their own business(SELFISH) model(REASONS).

    1. You got the right, John. iOS filing system is too burdensome and inelegant. iOS also needs its own version of Spotlight. No version of iPad exists that would ever replace my MacBook Pro; however, I would like the option of a MBP and iPad that would function interchangeably.

      1. No need to wait any longer … that’s what the Surface Pro is for!!!

        Problem solved for good!

        Don’t hold your breath on Apple … they will never get the job done.

        Apple business model is focused on providing high value to the investors while providing low value to their customers (i.e. high profit margins).

        1. Sorry, I didn’t quite get that—it seems completely backward, based on everything else I’ve read.

          It seems investors are actually dissatisfied with AAPL and complain incessantly about loss of value—just read the bitter posts of magnificent7 here at MDN. There are lots and lots of them.

          Apple’s long-time, explicitly stated business model is to provide high value to their customers, the stock market be damned! The fact of high profit margins proves that very point.

          I could take you more seriously if you had a less insulting username, and had better English grammar, but as it is I must assume you are a casual troll. Professional trolls clean up those little details, and make money—think about it!

        2. My friend did just that. Now he wishes he hadn’t.

          We were at the MSoft store and he asked a few questions about how it was failing him. I was merely a spectator and the gist of it was……basically he explained how it was a badly made piece of shit and the battery kept dying and now it sits useless in a corner. There was quite a bit of discussion about a hing that kept breaking. Does the thing even have a hing? The woman in the Apple-look-alike T-shirt said send it in for repair. My friend had already done that and same fault happened again. So he explained how he wasn’t going to wast anymore time on it. “Sorry to hear that”, said the woman.

          So yeah, go buy that piece of shit.

    2. With all due respect, you and others do not understand the tradeoffs for security and stability of the OS. iOS apps are sandboxed for security. They can interact via extensions, which are brokered through the iOS, again for security.

      Much of what you call intentional crippling are simply tradeoffs to avoid the types of problems with Windows or Android machines. You can’t always have it both ways. If you want something totally open, then you will be at risk. Same as it ever was.

  2. The analysis of the sales slowdown invariably led to the idea that the technology wasn’t changing fast enough and that the constraints of iOS…

    YES. One of Tim Cook’s blunders (and I know of only a few) was to proclaim: I think if you’re looking at a PC, why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one? I called him out on it at the time. The effect of his blunder is playing out. Hopefully, he and the gang at Apple will see that the strict restraints of iOS are NOT ENOUGH for a great many users.

    I’ll keep my MacBook Pro for me serious work, thank you.

    1. OK, what’s your definition of Serious Work? I’ve heard the opinions of others. I collect such opinions only because they tend to pile up high and make me question the Seriousness of my own work. Being the self-reflective type, I am led to wonder if my life somehow veered off-course, or if the community of digital workers I thought I once inhabited is morphing into some kind of elite, nudging my kind out. — I belong to the clan once referred to as “the rest of us.” If Apple seems to be falling, perhaps this is why — the word Pro has changed its meaning to suit the entrenched, become Trumpified.

      1. I’m obviously a lightweight because the work that I create ( and get handsomely paid for) is mostly created on an iPad ( or even an iPhone SE ). I’m sure that if I were a ‘real man’, I’d buy an immensely powerful Mac pro and also have a seven litre pick-up truck parked in my drive. As it is, I’m entirely confident about myself and what I actually need to do, so don’t have any compulsion to specify uneccessary horsepower in either my computing or transport requirements in order to compensate for deficiencies elsewhere.

        I do use my desktop Mac a great deal, but mostly because of the large hard drives and the instant access to files that I have created over the last thirty years or so, together with it’s ability to allow my IOS devices to access my elderly printer through it. However the main reason for using my desktop Mac is the convenience of a large, vertical screen and the comfort of sitting at a desk with a conventional keyboard. I know that iPads can also accept external monitors, BlueTooth keyboards and mice, but the Mac is always on my desk and set up ready for use. It’s also wired up to a pretty decent D/A converter, amplifier and speakers, which are used professionally, but greatly enjoyed for leisure.

      2. It’s not about the Seriousness of the work. That’s up to each and every user, individually, as their own judge. It more about what the iPad can’t do, for both technical and Apple policy reasons, than what it can.

        The reason this is an issue at all is that the iPad is not and has never been a PC replacement. It’s a netbook replacement, at laptop pricing. Granted, it’s the netbook done right, but it’s the same target customer and purpose. The PC has been oversold for decades, but it had indeed been oversold. Netbooks gave basic functionality for a cheap price with more mobility. That attracted the same customer that can do 9x% of what they need to do on a tablet.

    2. Agree that iPad does not kill the la[top (or iMac). Much like cinema and theatre, they coexist nicely.

      iPad Pro and Pencil are a dynamite duo, but do not replace my MacBook Pro – and why should they?

  3. I’m delighted with my iPad Pro 12.9-inch with 4 GB RAM and the keyboard cover. I use it often for Web browsing and responding to mail and messages. It holds my collections of audio and video files.

    But much of my work can’t be done on it, but is done on a MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM and a much more powerful CPU. I use DEVONthink Pro Office for document/information management. The database in which I work most holds some 30,000 references and notes, with a total word count equivalent to that of the Encyclopedia Britannica. I make heavy use of artificial intelligence assistants and custom scripts to automate or extend features of the software — and these are not yet possible in the iOS environment.

    IOS is a weak sister compared to OS X, and the iPad Pro is a weak sister compared to my MacBook Pro in hardware capabilities. While I love the iPad and my iPhone 6s+, I depend on the MacBook Pro when I’m doing research and writing.

  4. The iPad is priced for a many year return on investment once we tell people you only get 2 years form your $600 – $2000 investment they will be looking els were.

    Multi User is important, as a school community council member we tried to raise money to buy iPads for our school but with privacy roles in place and no multi user support it was killed by school board before we even got started.

  5. There shouldn’t be an iPad, or a MacBook, or an iPhone. There should be one device, which is capable of handling all functionality. Anything short of this is inefficient and a waste of resources. What type of device could accomplish this? I see one screen. When the laptop mode is warranted the device should expand or fold-out and be bendable. The lap part should have a pressable screen keyboard. In iPad mode the device should shrink or fold, and in iPhone mode the device should shrink or fold even more. It’s simple, yet powerful.

    From the AR glasses I’ve seen online, it is going to take a few years for that tech to be an elegant, all-in-one solution. And even though Apple probably has some wiz-bang AR solutions on the bench, the Apple One should quench some wins.

  6. Until you can open two files in the same app. The iPad cannot replace a Mac/PC. GIVE US TWO COPIES OF PAGES AND NUMBERS SO WE CAN OPEN TWO FILES IN THE SAME APP. IN SPLIT SCREEN.

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