Getting advice about electronics purchases from Best Buy’s team of experts, who spend all day among rows and rows of the same three products, isn’t always a good idea. But then, every once in a while, a proper thought comes from the Big Box. In an interview, Best Buy CEO, Brian Dunn, said that the iPad is “cannibaliz[ing] sales from laptop PCs by as much as 50%” – no mean feat considering how ‘underpowered’ it seems in comparison to PC laptops that advertise everything from the OS (that every computer shares) to bundled malware and archaic Energy Star specification. But that may be the reason it is doing so well; take out the unnecessary stuff and you can Facebook and email as well as anyone. Generally, I write about 5-6 pages a day on my iPad. Yes, thanks to Apple’s Pages and Quickoffice Connect.
In fact, when I bought my iPad back in July, I told a wide-eyed Apple employee that I was so happy with my iPad that I wouldn’t buy another MacBook. The truth is: for 99% of the population, traditional laptop hardware is redundant.
When I get back to Canada, my MBP will play a fantastic part as a personal music server. My iPad will do a fine job as a word processor, photograph sorter, web browser among other functions. And considering that it works fine as a remote client, I may not need my iMac for much more than heavy Adobe Illustrator stuff!
Surely Apple feel the sting of the iPad, but not so badly as PC makers. This lot hasn’t seen beyond clamshells and cables for decades and in the iPad’s toddler years, some may fold. They’ll bring out Android, Windows 7, WebOS tablet computers along with Linux lighties, claiming that their units do more for less. They’ll cram in 55 USB slots, SD/MSD/CF/MiniDisk, Blue Ray, DAT, and floppy drives along with crappy TN LCD panels into deplorable plastic shunts and differentiate themselves by the number megapixels their camera has, or by what the video processor runs the show. It’ll be the PC price wars all over again; rather than creating something unique, each maker will compete for a piece of the same pie. The problem is, that in the new competition isn’t about how many berries are in the pie, it’s how they’re shoved in.
Above all, however, it’s about the user interface and the applications. Again, Linux and Windows aren’t gonna cut it: mobile computing needs apps, not full fledged, mouse-driven applications with incomprehensible UI’s.
Apple are prepared for the demise of the laptop. They’re hunkered down with great mobile products that will help them ride through to tomorrow. Rather than following the trend, they are forging ahead with eye-catching, norm-challenging components. Sure, they’ll lose MacBook sales and Best Buy and other retailers’ Apple sections will be padded with new, trendy mobile devices; but that’s just it: mobile computing is changing and like it or hate it, the Apple are leading the way.