At the All Things Digital conference, Steve Jobs predicted that the iPad (some people still call them tablets) will replace the PC. He did not say that PCs will completely disappear, but that only a minority ("one out of x") will use them.

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He compared PCs to trucks and the iPad to a car. When our civilization was transformed from an agrarian to an urban society only a few people kept using trucks. The majority are driving cars nowadays. I suppose with this analogy he wanted to indicate that PCs come from the pre-Internet era. In the post-PC era, the Internet (or perhaps the cloud) will dominate our way of interacting with digital assets and this is why we will need a new device with a user interface that is adapted for this purpose.

The video above shows the interview at D8. The part about the prediction is at the end, but the first part is also worth seeing. (By the way, it is interesting to note that in this interview Steve Jobs also expressed his dislike of bloggers [like me]. I wonder why? Perhaps because in a Web without bloggers Apple even had more control over the media?)

Steve Jobs is obviously impressed by the sales numbers of the iPad. Two million in two months is not too bad. Tablets have been around for a while already, but it appears Apple once more managed to put together common ingredients for a very successful product.

Jobs didn't explicitly say that the iOS will replace Windows. However, I think, he is quite aware of the fact that if his prediction comes true, Apple is in an excellent position to become the new Microsoft.

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Considering that Apple's market cap is now bigger than Microsoft's, it seems as if the markets agree with Steve Jobs. Nonetheless, the markets don't understand as much about PCs as the readers of this blog. Hence, I am curious to know what you think about this prediction. If you just don't believe that the iOS could ever endanger Windows, imagine a tablet that runs Windows 8 with a new user interface that, like the iOS, was designed for touch.

Will tablets replace PCs?

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10 Comments
  1. Jeff 11 years ago

    LOL. You have to be kidding me, right? Steve and his FUD need to go home!

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  2. It might be FUD, but you have to consider that he is quite aware that OS X and Macs will also come into danger. Essentially, it just means the mouse would be replaced with touch and an OS that is adapted for this kind UI control has a significant advantage. People were also quite skeptical about graphical user interfaces and the mouse. I remember an article in a famous magazine where they compared the usage of Word with and without mouse. The conclusion was that without mouse you are always faster.

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  3. Dean Stefanov 11 years ago

    I found the video quite interesting. Thank you, Michael.

    The analogy about cars and trucks is too simplified. Personally, I think there would be more complex spectrum of devices, which will switch easily between PC-like and Tablet-like usage.

    Another important point which I found in the interview is that people are willing to pay for high quality content, and I agree a hundred percent with it. Have you considered such an approach yourself?

    Finally, the part about the bloggers - being "unprofessional", and the professional media - needing help. That's a key point which reflects Apple's philosophy about internet, generally speaking. Life changes, internet changes and if the "professional" media does not adapt, it should go away. I understand and I don't blame Steve Jobs for his desire to make money in "helping" the professional media. Did you expect him to say that he is willing to help the bloggers become professional media and get paid for their content, Michael? Actually, the professional media started like the bloggers, years ago and acquired this level and professionalism after years of hard work and experience.

    Best Regards,

    Dean

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  4. honda 11 years ago

    I think that ipad will never replace pc either cloud os will never replace desktop os, until we have decent connections (italy).

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  5. Dean, I also think that the future will belong to convertibles.

    As for high quality content, people already pay for it. Look at the Amazon Kindle store. I might go into this direction in the future, but I think the Web is not yet ready for it.

    It is well-known that journalists who write critical articles about Apple will be cut off from information in the future. Thus "professional" writers are dependent on Apple while bloggers who express their opinion as IT experts are not dependent on Steve's goodwill. This is why he likes "professional" journalists more than experts.

    honda, I think mobile broadband access will improve rapidly in the coming years. It is only a matter of time until fast and reliable Internet connections are available in every corner of the planet. I believe this is one reason why computers will change. It is all about being mobile.

    +1

  6. honda 11 years ago

    I hope...
    ... but I hope too that the security moves to the right direction ...

    +1

  7. Fred 11 years ago

    The ipad is not a car. It's a bus. You choose a route, sit there and absorb content. It's not a (mass) content creator. The bus has some dictation over where you go.

    +1

  8. Well, you can write on the screen, right? I think the iPad could also be compared with a bike. You can take it easily everywhere. Cars are notebooks and trucks are desktops.

    +1

  9. Me 11 years ago

    Mike, I think that analogy was even better than you realized. How many people do you see riding bikes versus those driving cars/trucks? That depends where you live, but if you're in a busy place like me, barely anyone, and of those few, it's more likely for recreation than for transportation.

    This is how I see slates/tablets, at least for now. They are, in their current form, crippled PC counterparts. They are limited, even with a full OS on them, the physical aspect of typing on a touch screen is cumbersome like the physical work it takes to ride a bike. It also has a different feel that can take some getting-used-to, or never completely feel right. Some embrace using a tablet, others dread the sight of one. Using a tablet is nice, but it doesn't accomplish what a PC can.

    Jobs said it well, it will be very uncomfortable to see PC's get phased out (if that happens).

    I'm not sure if the tablet will overcome the PC. We still have bicycles today, and like I said, many ride them for recreation. Tablets may very well end up staying recreational devices in parts of the world where people can afford to have one in addition to a PC, and being suitable affordable alternatives in less wealthy parts.

    Only time can tell.

    +1

  10. The problem is that there is no clear definition what a PC actually is. For instance, are Macs PCs? I think the point that Jobs wanted to make is that in future people will always bring their computers with them just like they do it today with their mobile phones. In a few years this will be possible with devices that are not just crippled PCs like the iPad, but are full-blown computers having collapsible displays, enhanced reality and many features that even the fattest desktop PC doesn't have today. The truth is that the age of the PC (personal computer) is only at the beginning.

    +1

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