On our sister blog Gadgetell, J.G. Mason posts an editorial calling the iPad a “trap” for the computer industry. Mason quotes an All Things D piece stating that the iPad is having a disruptive effect on low-end notebook computer sales as people delay or cancel notebook purchases to buy an iPad instead. Mason further calls the industry’s faddish focus on tablets to compete with the iPad another such disruption.
Mason thinks that over time, the iPad (and presumably tablets in general) will develop out of its more limited present capabilities to become a larger, faster, and more capable computer in its own right, which will be useful for both consuming media in tablet form and doing actual work when docked to a keyboard and other peripherals.
Unless the industry decides to lead and not follow, laptops will likely become things of the past. Apple is betting the industry will follow the money, as it usually does. This will keep Apple’s premium position in the market and keep investors happy for some time to come.
What Mason entirely fails to explain is why this is necessarily a bad thing. Now granted, if it were just the iPad taking over that ecological niche, I could see some protests against Apple’s “walled garden” development model driving out everything else (how ironic given how often similar complaints have been made about Microsoft’s desktop dominance compared to Apple’s tiny market share!).
But it is highly likely that other manufacturers will have their own just-as-good tablets running more traditional OSes once they get some momentum built up. If someone wants a tablet that can do it all and be fully compatible with the programs he’s been using so far on his desktop or laptop, why wouldn’t he get a Windows 7 tablet rather than an iPad?
If a tablet can do everything a laptop could well enough that we don’t need laptops anymore, then the tablet will be “the new laptop” and the companies that make laptops now will shift over to making tablets. What’s so bad about that, as long as it gets the job done?