Mobile, Ecosystems, and the Death of the PC

Great piece by Benedict Evans, attempting (and I say succeeding) to define just what we should mean by “mobile”:

You can’t use the screen size or the keyboard to define ‘mobile’ as distinct from a ‘PC’.

It certainly isn’t the performance - at least, not for much longer. An iPhone 6S beats the Macbook on some benchmarks, an iPad Air beats Surfaces from prior years and it seems pretty likely that the iPad Pro will be close enough to a Surface for there not to be much point arguing about it.

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that the iPad Pro will outperform the x86-based Surface Pro 4 in most benchmarks — at least the Core-m3 and Core-i5 models that have already shipped. (The $1599 Core-i7 Surface Pro 4 isn’t shipping until December.)

The lines on the Moore’s Law chart are converging for anything with a battery. The same applies to the visible differences in the software. Saying that a PC is distinguished by multitasking and multiple windows is pretty short-sighted. It’s just software. It changes.

Meanwhile, most of the form factor differences seem to me to have little to do with the essence of the device. They’re a matter of superglue. If I superglue a keyboard onto an iPad and install Office, have I made a laptop? How many of those 1.5bn PCs are running applications that I cannot run on this iPad - and, to my earlier point, how many people will always need to run those specific applications? If I hack Android onto a Surface, and install Office, what exactly have I lost, or gained? Is the difference between a ‘smartphone’ and ‘tablet’ any more meaningful than the difference between a PC with a large or small monitor?

So well said. I would go so far as to say that this piece by Evans is essential reading before you read any reviews or analysis of the iPad Pro. If you don’t understand what Evans is pointing out here, you have no chance of understanding the purpose and potential appeal of the iPad Pro.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015