Against the backdrop of the global history of coronavirus, which has swept the entire global information space from Wuhan to Cupertino, the spring announcement of Apple with the presentation of the new iPad Pro and MacBook Air may not seem like such a significant event as in the past. Apple had to not only cancel the ceremony (otherwise it is difficult to call these iconic events) of the presentation, but also transfer the annual conference for WWDC developers to the virtual space. And also close their fashionable stores around the world, except for China. Which, by the way, can become one of the main beneficiaries after the pandemic of the virus, because its economy has already quarantined while the rest of the world is plunging into the abyss of a protracted recession (oil is getting cheaper, stocks are falling, venture investors are sending out letters of emergence “Black swan”, sung by Nassim Taleb). As a result, China has absolutely unlikely chances to become the largest economy in the world.
But now it’s not about him, but that the announcement of a new tablet (along with an updated external keyboard that received a touchpad) made me think that this device perfectly demonstrates the protracted confrontation between the two approaches to the architecture of the future computer, which began in 2010 after the announcement of the very first iPad. This story is worthy of a separate book (although at the present time it is faster and more reliable to make a television series) if only because its main defendants are … drum roll … Apple and Microsoft! And no, this is not about holivar between users of reliable and familiar Windows and fans of any other system. This is about fundamental differences that seem insignificant to any person, but in fact determine the difference between success and its absence.
I’ll start from afar – it was not Apple, but Microsoft who invented the tablet computer (no, well, maybe someone else came up with such ideas – you won’t remember everyone, especially since there’s no sign of the presence of the devices of those years on the Internet you’ll find it), but the ideology of tablet computers was laid down by Microsoft since the time of Windows XP, which was famous in every sense, which had a special Tablet PC Edition. I was happy unhappy user of one of the first tablet computers of those years. Compaq released it just before its takeover of HP. The model was called Compaq TC100 and was a 10.4-inch tablet with a resolution of 1024×768 (now with any cheap smartphone above) and a stylus. The stylus was pretty interesting on its own. Firstly, it could work non-contact due to induction (hi Samsung, your S-Pen was not the first, although it’s hundreds, if not thousands of times more popular). Secondly, it was the only case in my memory when I came across an AAAA format battery. And I was constantly tormented by the thought of where to get the infection when it sits down – in 2004 Aliexpress was not there (although Alibaba already, of course, was). Fortunately, I got rid of this miracle of technology long before it sat down. By the way, I was not the first buyer of this tablet, and after me it was resold at least a couple more times. The heart and the curse of this device was a completely enchanting processor, God forgive me, Transmeta Crusoe TM5800. Everything worked so damn slowly that when I changed this miracle to another (not a new one, by the way, only the next one became my first new laptop), my productivity in one fell swoop increased by 20 percent, because I did not spend time in painful expectations when Windows Explorer will allow you to switch from displaying one folder to another.
After Apple released its first tablet on a mobile operating system, and it suddenly became very popular, first creating a new category of devices, and then burying (as Jobs predicted during the presentation of the iPad) netbooks, in the bright future of which nobody doubted that time, including your humble servant. Apple understood one simple thing, which determined the course of history and the whole future confrontation: in terms of architecture, the tablet is closer to a smartphone than to a computer. This simple axiom allows it to maintain the correct focus for a long time, while Microsoft still does not know how to make it so that its touch-screen devices become massive and popular. Because Microsoft, with tenacity worthy of a better application, is aggressively trying to turn a computer into a tablet. It came to the point that Windows 8 became a completely schizophrenic system, and it wasn’t decided yet. It works with a computer or tablet. He has a touch screen or not. She needs a normal interface, for a mouse, or she needs a control adapted for tapping the screen with her fingers, which obviously requires fundamentally different interface solutions. (Experts usually appear in this place telling me that I don’t understand anything, that everything has been wrong for a long time, and that the new Windows 10 has already defeated all these children’s problems. But no, it did not, because its ideology of use was initially flawed. And has always been flawed since Windows 8).
What we are seeing today: it’s clear that the future is with touch interfaces. For example, you will not connect a mouse or touchpad to the screen of the refrigerator. No need to revise Corning’s visionary videos to see what the screens for the future will look like. Microsoft has known this for a long time and with all its might tried to gain a foothold in this market. But after lengthy battles on all fronts, she lost all her positions in the smartphone operating system market a few years ago. Just gave this market to Apple and Google, which have become trendsetters in the industry and now control 80% of Internet traffic. Gathering insanely large archives of data about their users. There were several attempts with the tablets, the funniest, of course, is associated with the Surface. When Microsoft is so tired of “stupid” vendors who have repeatedly refused to release tablets according to its patterns and contrived usage scenarios (there is a substitution of cause and effect – in fact, vendors do not care what to release, but if His Majesty the buyer does not want to buy these devices , why the hell did they let them out, burying their money?) that she decided to show “as needed” and release her tablet. The tablet came out loud and collapsed like a closet in its first incarnation, Surface RT. After several years of “pounding this rock,” Microsoft burned a ton of money and even reached some results. They may even object to me, they say, the new Microsoft Surface are the best portable computers on Windows, and I may even agree. But rather, I advise you to buy a good Asus ultrabook – at least it will cost less. Another remark: once in my life I saw a man with Microsoft Surface and it was in New York at the hotel where we lived during the annual presentation of Acer. But I see people with an iPad or MacBook everywhere and constantly. For example, I’ve never been able to make a flight without at least one passenger with an iPad in the cabin for dozens of flights on planes.
Now back to the presentation of the iPad Pro. If we discard all these Petrosyan’s jokes about Apple’s “nobody needs” devices and the ugly saying “you need only real ™ Windows” to work, then Apple (unlike Microsoft constantly tending to find solutions to the problem) clearly follows its plan and the chosen path. It consists, as I said, in a simple truth: a laptop is one device, a tablet is another. The tablet is architecturally closer to the smartphone, so it needs a mobile operating system. This provides her with all the advantages: a long battery life (thanks to ARM processors), user-friendly controls and convenient sizes. By the way, I was always interested: what if Microsoft understood what was the point and released a tablet on the Windows Phone operating system? It even sounds weird, right? That is, Microsoft even called the operating system so that it eliminates such a train of thought. If I live up to artificial intelligence prediction systems of such complex scenarios, I will certainly ask this question, maybe then I will find out a variant of such a development of events.
As a result, Apple is not going to make laptops with touch screens (if only because their users are jarred when someone pokes their fingers on the screen of their macbook, leaving greasy marks on it). But I’m ready to turn my tablets into laptops. But only for those who are interested and suitable. Who are the iPad Pro users? Designers, bloggers, and video bloggers are people who embody the creative economy. They can work as independent units, if necessary, unite in teams for the duration of work on projects. They are flexible and do not want to associate themselves with work in an office chair on an ongoing basis. Doesn’t it remind anyone? Isn’t that all – the characteristics of a new generation called millenials? This is a new generation of consumers who have already passed into adulthood and earn money on their own (those born in 2000 were already 19 years old). They are very flexible, easily change habits and their environment, create new ones. They are easy to meet, spend a significant part of their time on the Internet. The Internet for them is their home, it has always been for them. Like mobile communications, for example. They can even work on the Internet (as I, for example, although I, to put it mildly, do not belong to millennials). Touch screens are understandable and convenient for them, and if you need to type a lot of text, build a presentation or work with a complex spreadsheet, then an external keyboard with a touchpad will help. Which can be taken out of the bag and put next to you on the cafe table.
The same flexibility allows the new generation to easily adapt to a situation even as complex as the current one, with quarantine. You can’t go to the office? Yes, they never went. Can’t date other people? Yes, for God’s sake – video calling was invented just for this. Need tools to work? Yes, most of them are available directly from the browser. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but, for example, 80% of my current work is in the browser. Even this text I write in the CMS-system of our site in the browser. And I always do it because it’s convenient. And some of the other tools I need to work are also accessible through a browser – Slack, Trello, Evernote, cloud office (Google, of course – why do I need Microsoft if the Google ecosystem is native to my smartphone?)
The new iPad Pro costs more than $ 1,000, you say, what millennials? And you will be right. But Apple does not have a goal to capture the whole world, it is only interested in the audience of the most active, motivated, who will succeed in a few years. And who will become users of the Apple ecosystem in the near future, starting today, for example, with the purchase of a used iPhone 7 for a couple of hundred dollars. And the advanced devices themselves are becoming more affordable over the years. Today, any smartphone for $ 100 can do much more than the flagship model for $ 800 did 10 years ago. What about performance, what about its camera. Of course, you can also add about LIDAR and future opportunities for augmented reality in this tablet (which we wait from year to year, but they still do not find widespread use). About the dual camera (a new trend in tablets that need new measurable characteristics for future sales, and two cameras are more than one). About 5 microphones for recording sound (they promise a direct studio recording, which I can hardly believe in) and 4 speakers for playing it. But about it all, either you already knew it, or so they will write and tell you everything. In my opinion, the key to understanding where Apple is heading in its tablet development is precisely the appearance of this keyboard with a touchpad for the tablet. Turning it (for a while, because it is constantly on the tablet and is not needed) into a laptop. A laptop working (this is an important difference, I focus on it again) on the operating system for mobile devices. And if for some reason after 10-5 years laptops completely sink into oblivion with their operating systems, and we begin to use such mobile devices every day, Apple will be ready for such a future.
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