Although Apple management never publicly contempted Mac, the level of attention to iPad in early 2010 was probably correlated with a decline in time and focus on Mac. Some of the Mac decisions that were made around this time, like Mac Pros's design, came back to haunt Apple.
iPad versus Mac ratio began to change after iPad sales reached peak 2013. Management efforts to lure iPad users to upgrade turned out to be unusable when iPad sales went down from a 75m- unit per year, driving speed to 40M units per year sales level. While iPad sales were in free fall, the Mac remains a steady ship, which does not move far from 20M unit sales per year. The Mac demonstrated a level of sales consistency that management may not have expected given iPads popularity.
Apple now finds an iPad business that is twice as big as the Mac device in terms of device sales, but less than Mac when it comes to revenue. The IPad user base is almost three times the Mac user base and grows with 20 million new users a year, while the Mac user base sees more as 1
Various Tools for Different People
The fact that Apple gave such dramatically different Mac and iPad ad campaigns, gives the green light clarity about management's approach to the two product categories. Apple has become comfortable in accepting, and even embracing, the annoyance that exists between iPad and Mac. Apple does not try to hide the differences that exist between Mac and iPad as platforms. Instead of embracing Apple, the unique attributes that exist with each platform.
Instead of trying to come up with scenarios where the average consumer wants a state of use for both iPad and Mac in their lives, Apple includes its heterogeneous user base. For iPad owners, the Mac ads probably did not connect at an emotional level. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro's hostility to "computers" has probably disturbed some Mac users. Apple is ok with such a situation. Their goal is not to sell consumers on both iPad and Mac as data processing platforms, but rather to send different types of tools that can improve people's lives.
Apple predicts that the Mac will appeal to some users, potentially those users with older workflows, while the iPad will appeal to another set of users – a younger generation of advertisements. Of course, the iPad is appealing to two to three times more than Mac, but the overall point still stands.
For every Mac that Apple sells, the company sells about 15 non-Mac devices. This relationship is close to all the time, and it will probably increase over time, given the increasing momentum of Apple wearables. If it does not describe a post-PC environment, it's difficult to imagine what would.
But for many people, it does not feel like we are in a post-PC environment. There are at least 100 million people still using a Mac. More importantly, there are tens of millions of people with workflows that are not handled by IOS. This group can not move beyond the Mac. The continued importance of Mac and PC has led anyone to conclude that the post-PC era has been a farce. But this does not feel right either, given how hundreds of millions of people have placed their smartphones as the most valuable, and in some cases only computers in their lives.
The reason why the post-PC era has been so controversial is that smartphones and iPads have become Mac and PC alternatives, not replacements. This subtle, but important difference means that tens of millions of people still need a Mac to get the job done. However, for a much larger number of people, smartphones and iPads have managed to handle specific workflows that were previously given to laptops and desktops. We experience the post-PC era.
There has always been a gray area between iPad and Mac in Apple's product line. Question has been about how Apple can best build the bridge between iOS and multi-touch computing with macOS and the supplied mouse and cursor. Some pundits have been vow that Apple was to follow Microsoft and send hybrid devices that use elements from both paradigms. Others think a more practical solution is that Apple will throw up its efforts on the Mac, as iPad sees its uses eaten by larger iPhones.
One way to deal with this gray area is to think of inspiration.
It's easy to believe that Apple gets inspiration for iPad from Mac. New features with multiple tasks, an updated docking station, and applications like Files seem to give up memories that remind you more about Mac than iPhone. However, I think the opposite is true. Apple uses iPhone as ultimate inspiration for where to bring its bigger iOS sibling. In addition, even the Mac gets inspiration from the iPhone.
Apple brings things like its custom silicon and Touch ID to the Mac platform. There is no way to imagine Face ID, and eventually it comes to the Mac (after it was first downloaded to iPad). It's Apple's focus on making it easier to port iOS apps to macOS. All of these efforts show that Apple uses the iPhone (and iOS Developer Community) as a catalyst to push both iPad and Mac platforms in the future. This makes sense given the iPhones ability to connect to the mass market as seen with a user base of approx. 900M users.
Compared to where Apple will bring the iPad and Mac platforms, there are some things different:
- Larger, more powerful, iPads that share many features with their iPhone siblings.
- Macs powered by Apple chips start at the low end of the Mac line) and get features popular with iOS.
- Powerful Macs that push the limit to a Mac.
In essence, Apple will continue to use resources to push both iPad and Mac categories in the future, even though it means the products are targeted to still different types of users.
Where things are not going:
- Apple comes up with hybrid devices that mean combining multi-touch tablets with laptops and desktops.
- A total move from iPad or Mac.
There is no evidence that Apple grows frustrated or tired of the differences between iPad and Mac. Instead, Apple's iPad and Mac strategy is to position each as its own creative platform. The iPad ends up being a creative arm for iOS, while the Mac exploits the potential of macOS to demand the needs of a wide variety of creators. Although this strategy does not prevent Apple from trying to share features between platforms, Apple seeks to recognize the main differences found with iPad and Mac iPads multi-touch user interface and Mac's cursor and mouse parameters. ]
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Three major computational themes have taken Apple's attention in recent years: Apple is distinguished in each of the previous themes with clear vision and strategy. But what about the biggest screens of our lives? Is it a coincidence that these devices lack the convincing vision found with the smallest screens in our lives? If AR glasses would become a regular Apple product one day, would it leave long-term lanes for big screens like TVs, iPads and Macs? It is not clear.
For now, Apple's iPad and Mac strategy seems to be placing each as a tool for creators. While an increasing number of people will be able to do more with less screens worn on the body, iPad and Mac have the right to handle workflows that require additional display real estate and power. This does not mean that Apple is free of challenges and risks.
The company's approach to the Mac continues to be controversial, since older users feel uncomfortable with the direction Apple will take the platform on. At the same time, someone believes that Apple does not move fast enough with iPad as a tool capable of handling older workflows that are still given to Mac. Many of these challenges will probably remain for Apple in the short term. But by embracing the somewhat annoying iPad vs. Mac compilation, Apple is revealing to the world that it will remain faithful to each platform and focus on attributes that make iPad and Mac stand out as creators' platforms.
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