Apple makes a big fuss about the iPad being the future, but the facts don’t bear that out. Yet. Apple Marketing is beating a dead horse for the sake of a cute gotcha.
The Particle Debris article of the week is from John Dvorak at PC Magazine.
Now I wouldn’t normally address an article like that except for the fact that there are some larger issues at stake here.
It all started when Apple published a seemingly innocent commercial in mid-November. Our Bryan Chaffin wrote about that ad and included a link to it. “Apple iPad Commercial Asks, ‘What’s a Computer?’” Reader reaction was mixed and strong. Here’s that Apple ad again.
Ostensibly, the kid in the ad is so happy with the iPad Pro, so adept with it, that she’s completely lost track of of the terribly old-fashioned concept of a standard “computer,” be it a laptop or a desktop. The marketing takeaway is that the iPad Pro is all the device one will ever need.
If you’re a kid.
Author Dvorak drills down to another one of the conceits of the ad.
The girl is about 10 years old. If she does not know what a computer is by the age of 10, then our school systems are worse than I thought. Maybe she’s just being rude or mean to her mom.
But then making a marketing point with actor rudeness is all the rage.
More important, however, are some fundamental facts.
- iPad sales had been declining for years. Apple has to do something about that. And the company has indeed taken action. See: “Apple Stems Decline in iPad Sales Thanks to New iPad Pros.“
- Schools generally report that iPads can’t always do the heavy lifting. A real laptop is important not only in high school but also in college. See: “Apple is Doing Terribly in Education. Doing Well. Which?“
- Apple sells 20+ million Macs per year. That’s a US$20+ billion business that Apple isn’t going to throw away.
The literature about how iPads have failed pedagogical and financial needs of schools and how Google is competing effectively against Apple is impressive. Listen to an experienced educator explain it.
Marketing Isn’t Reality
Given the market realities above, Apple would naturally like to emphasize the value of the iPad Pro. That’s fine. But the problem with this ad is that, amidst the snark, the iPad Pro is so capable that it can totally replace the traditional computer. We wonder. Has Apple lost confidence in the Mac?
That’s the confusing part.
In fact, the ad also appears to be a direct response to a prior comment by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who, upon spotting some journalists with iPads, suggested they “get a real computer.” His own angle here is that a Surface Pro with Windows is a fully capable computer in the traditional sense. You can take it to college and learn Java, write apps and even learn UNIX with the Ubuntu shell.
Apple’s response? No, you don’t need no stinkin’ computer. See? This iPad Pro is all one needs. And by the way, that iPad Pro needs, ::cough::, a physical keyboard to do its job well. I wonder who championed that tablet notion before Apple?
Here’s reality. Apple makes a broad range of computing devices to meet the needs of a broad range of customer needs. Macs play a modest but important role. They aren’t going away anytime soon, as evidence by Apple’s commitment to the iMac Pro and the Mac Pro. Even the MacBook Pro is being rethought for the better.
The Wrong Message
The above ad sends the wrong message. This one leads people, even an experienced tech journalist, to draw the wrong conclusion (the Mac is dead) and gin up a juicy, misleading article. The ad also reveals that Apple is thin-skinned about the future of the iPad and willing to denigrate traditional OSes like Windows (and, by implication, macOS) for the sake of some marketing glitz.
The iPad/iOS is great for many users who are adults as well. Tell us about it. Mac/macOS is a powerful system for many kinds of customers. Tell us about that too.
Instead, Apple took the easy way out when, in fact, there is much work to do.
Note: This week’s Particle Debris is one page.
Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page one) followed on page two by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.