Breaking news: Apple’s new M1 iPad Pros won’t kill the PC.
Yes, the new M1 iPad Pro family wields all the bells and whistles you’d expect of one of the most famous and popular pieces of technology in human history. In fact, I’m very impressed by the new iPad Pro. I think the new 12.9-inch version might actually be everything the original iPad Pro dreamed it could be.
But it still won’t kill the PC.
To be fair, Apple didn’t claim that on Tuesday when it showed off the new iPad Pros. But if past is prologue, pundits will be looking for the latest reason to declare the PC dead. In fact, the New York Times did so in 2019, when it declared ”Steve Jobs was right: Smartphones and Tablets killed the P.C.”
Fast-forward just two years, and the PC is anything but dead. Sales of desktops and laptops soared to 302 million last year. Micron issued guidance on RAM shortages and cited one of the factors as a forecast that one million PCs would be sold every day through at least 2021.
So why, after 11 years, hasn’t the iPad ever realized its dream of killing the PC? Much of that is because the PC industry has reacted to the threat and innovated.
PCs introduced pen and touch, as well as 2-in-1 and convertible designs. CPUs and GPUs got faster. Screens got better and faster. While Microsoft has worked hard to integrate touch-focused tablet features, I think it’s safe to say most people still operate their PCs in desktop mode.
The PC is so flexible and powerful today, I know of very few people who wanted to hunker down with a tablet for the duration of the pandemic. Instead, they wanted more of everything. More screen. More power. A better mouse, a better keyboard. They largely wanted a desktop or a new laptop, not a tablet.
If anything, the iPad has been forced to adopt features in reaction to the durability of the PC. After 10 years of resisting it, Apple finally added mouse support to iOS last year. The company has also begrudgingly added split-screen support. I imagine the last step will be finally to acknowledge that the conventional desktop view of Windows and MacOS is the most efficient way to use a computer, so it’ll bring that feature to the iPad. Maybe Apple will add the ability to run desktop MacOS apps or emulate Windows 10, so you can run a Windows app, too.
At that point, if the iPad adds mouse and keyboard support, a conventional windows multi-tasking view in desktop mode and can run MacOS desktop apps and Windows 10 support—which device actually died?