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10 years on, the iPad hasn’t replaced the Mac — and won’t (updated)

Oops. I accidentally has “20 years” rather than “10” in this article. It has been corrected. My bad. When the iPad went on sale 10 years ago, it quickly became Apple’s fastest-selling product ever. With all the hoopla surrounding it, many folks believed it would eventually replace the Mac. That hasn’t happened and won’t happen anytime soon. 

“It’s so much more intimate than a laptop,” Steve Jobs said at the iPad’s unveiling, showing off the device while reclining in a chair to highlight the casual relationship users would have with the tablet.

He described the new hardware as “a magical and revolutionary device” that would “define an entirely new category of devices.” Jobs called the iPad a car, and proclaimed that, for most people, it would replace the PC, the truck of the computing world. It would usher in the next era of personal computing.

In 2015 Tim Cook said “the iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” 

And Apple has often targeted the iPad as as a laptop replacement, or at least a viable laptop alternative, as evidenced by the much-ridiculed “What’s a computer?” ad.

However, in Apple’s most recent fiscal quarter, Mac revenue was still more than iPad revenue: US$7.2 billion compared to $6 billion. My perspective is that most folks still use the iPad for consuming media rather than for productivity due to such reasons as a more limited file system, less robust (and more confusing) multitasking, and lack of comprehensive mouse/trackpad support

That doesn’t mean that an iPad couldn’t replace a Mac laptop. It could — if it ran macOS. And that will be the topic of tomorrow’s column.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.