The official availability of Apple’s iPad Pro must have emboldened the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, so much that the latter felt obliged to call Microsoft’s Surface Book “diluted” (not deluded as reported by some) and the venerable personal computer, “dead”.
The truth is that the personal computer won’t be replaced by the iPad Pro (or indeed any tablet) anytime soon. The iPad - and tablets in general - have not been doing great lately; the double-digit year-on-year growth that helped the segment surpass desktops has vanished.
That’s partly because Microsoft and its partners nurtured the hybrid category consisting of 2-in-1 and convertible ultra-mobile laptops. Gartner expects these to account for more than a quarter of mobile laptop sales by 2019 with a growth of 77 percent year-on-year.
In 2015 alone, nearly 22 million will have been shipped, out of which exactly zero will be made by Apple. So it is not surprising that the CEO of the Cupertino-based technology company sees hybrid devices – and more particularly Microsoft’s Surface family – as a real threat.
"there’s a lot of things that an Apple tablet simply can’t do well or do at all."
But despite Cook’s claims that the iPad Pro makes the PC – which includes laptops, desktops and myriad of other form factors – redundant, there’s a lot of things that an Apple tablet simply can’t do well or do at all.
Immersive gaming, video editing and music production, software development, CAD are some of the tasks that are best performed on a personal computer, regardless of whether it is a Windows-based, Linux-based or a Mac-based one (yeah, Apple still makes those).
And there’s a few reasons why that is the case.
Android and iOS tablets were never designed to be jack-of-all-trade devices. Their parts are tuned for mobility; the CPU or GPU sometimes throttle too much is asked from them, they are passively cooled and some physical limitations like the screen size means that, well, there’s not much that can be done. That said, more and more convertible laptops use the same processor architecture that made its way in tablets but these (x86 in general) tend to be significantly more flexible.
Their mobile operating systems were never really meant to perform traditional PC tasks as their focus was on making calls, text and data. Applications on a mobile OS run in a more controlled environment which means that there’s a fair few restrictions. App development for example is limited to the available APIs that the host mobile OS provides.
The lack of a mouse pointer which allows for more precise editing is a killer; Ever tried to work on a 10000-cell spreadsheet, a 50-slide document presentation or editing a 100-page document on a tablet? Sure you can do some light editing, but for more complex processes, probably not.
Perhaps the most important aspect is the richness of the PC ecosystem where it is all about choice. To borrow a comparison from the Open Source movement, Apple is a cathedral whereas the world of PC is like a Bazaar with a myriad of form factors, colours, shapes, sizes, specifications, pricings, accessories and peripherals.
That, surely, can’t be replaced by one device only. The only accessories that Apple has launched for the iPad Pro include the £79 Apple Pencil and the £139 Apple Smart Keyboard. The iPad Pro sells for £679 with 32GB storage and £799 with 128GB storage.
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