In a conference call with analysts after his company turned in yet another stellar financial report card Tuesday (April 24), Tim Cook, Apple Inc.'s CEO, was pressed to explain how the market for PCs could remain a separate, discreet market from for tablets. (In other words, how can Cook expect sales for its MacBook Air notebook PC to continue to grow at the same time iPad proliferation continues).
Cook said he strongly believes that the markets for these products will remain distinct and that Apple had no intention of kowtowing to the "compromises of convergence."
Cook argued that the MacBook Air and the iPad appealed to different users with different requirements. Convergence, Cook said, means tradeoffs and the possibility that the resulting product won't truly please either set of users.
"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user," Cook said.
IPad-mania continues at an unprecedented scale. Apple said it sold 11.8 million iPads in its fiscal second quarter, down 24 percent from the previous quarter but up 151 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. Cook told analysts that Apple has now sold more than 67 million iPads in the two-plus years since the initial iPad began shipping. To put that in perspective, he added, it took the company 24 years to sell that many Macs, five years to sell that many iPhones and three years to sell that many iPods.
Meanwhile, Mac sales continue to grow, albeit at a less eye-popping rate than its younger sibling. Apple reported selling 4 million Macs in the fiscal second quarter, up 7 percent from the same period a year ago. Cook said that Mac sales outgrew the overall PC market for the 24th straight quarter.
Citing forecast data from market research firms, Cook noted that the tablet market is expected to eclipse the PC market in terms of unit shipments in the next year years.
"I think even the more formal predictors outside of us are beginning to see these lines cross," Cook said. "And so I strongly believe that they will."
But Cook made it clear that Apple would continue to innovate in MacBook products. While others might push for convergence between the PC and the tablet, Apple is "not going to that party," Cook said.
Cook also noted that some users would continue to prefer to own both an iPad and a MacBook. "That's great, too," Cook said.
Everything should be a cell phone .. according to the people who has yet to discover that eventually they will need ... glasses ... tablets are fine .. until you need to type (horror!) 50 or so pages (say a spec on the smallish size...)... Touch screen on the desk .. yep .. you betcha: it goes for $2000 or so .. I can see one from the place I sit, it is being used by ID guy for sketching. He owns iPhone, iPod, iPad and probably couple other "i"s. He still types on his keyboard though and tries to cut fingers of anybody trying to touch his non-touch regular screens ... (big and two of them...). Ok what will out next do-it-all-silver-bullet-convergence-web3.0- .....
I would argue that, for most people and for practicality (i.e. mobility), weight & battery time are far more important than 500GB SSDs (relatively expensive even 2 or 3 yrs down the road) and full-keyboard with numeric pad (good for gamers and people who use spreadsheet in certain specific ways). I am afraid that your super convergence configuration will never show up because the requirement are applicable to a small portion of the mobile computing community.
Given the readily availability of portable USB HDD and the ever-larger USB Flash, 128GByte or even 64GByte SSD should meet the need of most end-users. Once again, think about the cost / weight / battery time! With the IvyBridge version of Corei5, the computational power available should be more than sufficient for most of the mobile computing needs of most end-uers.
Loosing the numeric keypad enables the display (frameless and 2560x1600 preferred) of 14" to be used in the current 13.3/13.1 form-factor. This result in reasonable screen area in a sleek form-factor. Detachable smartphone and screen is very similar to the Meta Pad from IBM back in CY2002. With today's technology, The smart phone can be made to 0.69mm z-height while a frame similar to the current S1 from Sony could be perfect. But, I imagine that you were asking for a Desknote like device rather than a sleek mobile computing device with near all-day computing battery time and yet it is perfectly mobile.
Tablet / Media Tablet is merely another form-factor of mobile computing. Clam-shell is another form of mobile computing. The very low-priced media tablet similar to the Amazon Kindle will remain to be a distant segment. The high-priced media tablet will merge with the truly-thin notebook PC. Let's see how things go at the end of next year!
I am sure many of us are getting tired of carrying around too many discrete pieces of consumer electronics and would appreciate more thoughtful integration. Here are some bones for Tim Cook to chew on.
Here is a super convergence configuration of Lap Tops that should still sell for under 1 k$ ( its a wish list). Most people who still need a Lap top for serious work ( when Ultra Books w/ just SSDs or Cloud Computing won't do ) would like a HDD of approx. 500 Gb, a full width Touch Screen for display, a full keyboard which instead of the numeric pad on the side would dock a detachable smartphone ( for the road ). The Touch screen too should be detachable from the Kbd for use as a Tablet ( especially for reading / watching TV & movies on bed ). The partitioning of components between the sections should be done accordingly.
Finally this pad hype is put into perspective. I fully concur with Tim Cook. What's more, the reasons for rapid growth in iPad sales, compoared to notebook sales, are fairly obvious, no? It's a new market segment. It doesn't mean that pads are replacing PCs and Macs. It means that the market isn't saturated with pads just yet.
One thing, though. I'd expect that docking stations for pads could make them more generally useful. When you're not on the go, and you really do need a useful keyboard, mouse, and lots of screen real estate, plugging your pad into a docking station might be a very good way of expanding the appeal of these pads.
It will be interesting to watch this sort out over the next few years. The success or failure of Microsoft Windows 8 on ARM might help push people to tablets or enhanced ultrabooks instead later this year. The PC world (ultrabooks) and the Mac world (Macbooks) might both be traveling parallel paths in competition, or synergy (which is it?), with tablets. And what will Google do to enhance their position on both types of devices?
This will happen. PC manufacturers were used to producing no-thrill and me-too bricks. Let's see how fast they can evolve with the Ultra-book form-factor. I believe that most people want multi-function device but it has to have enough appeals. The technologies today and whatever going to emerge in the next few years should give the world something similar to Meta Pad of CY2002 while the performance and cost become are practical. Keep the fingers crossed.
I believe Apple simply does not want to try the convergence for the fear of jeopardizing the sales of iPad. In truth, the difference between a reasonable notebook PC and a tablet are few: keyboard, on-board DRAMs, I/Os. I and many people who are employed often want a single mobile computing device that allows creation and consuming (not simultaneously of course). Considering that iPad cost US$650 (including accessories and tax), would a "reasonable" notebook PC with touch screen, 8-hr battery time, ~4GB DDRx, 64G SSD, 2.5~3lbs, DX11 GFx at roughly US$700 be a "more useful and meaningful" purchase? The proliferation of iPad is due to the followings: consumers have too much disposable cash for devices with limited capability, hype, addiction to brand-name, and most important, there is still no reasonable alternative.
Junko, I agree. Most of what I do these days on my laptop or desktop, I can do on my Kindle Fire. The rest, I still do on the bigger machines. I think most people will want both. The tablet for convenience and the laptop or desktop for power and a good keyboard.
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