A few days ago I was following one of the many live blogs of the Apple iPad announcement and had both a sense of excitement and disappointment. I've read all the twitter and blog posts about how the product will fail or how it will change the world. Remember, it is "magical". But it was during that live blog that I realized what I think Apple is doing and, if I'm right, they are absolutely brilliant.
Now, before I reveal my brilliance let me just say that I am 100% sure that I am not the first to figure this out. In fact, I'm quite embarrassed that it too me this long but it's ok. I'll live.
So, we all know that Microsoft and Apple have been mortal enemies for as long as personal computers have been around. They've been battling on the personal computer battleground and Apple has been taking heavy losses. In fact, I think we would all agree that generally the desktop battle has been over for a while. So what does an army do when they are being defeated? Worded differently, what do you do when you are losing the game? Change the rules of the game of course!
It's long been common knowledge that we will eventually not be using desktop computers as we now know them. With cloud storage and cloud apps we now need much less hardware to get work done. And with hardware miniaturization we can do more and more with smaller and smaller packages. Heck, my phone could quite likely land one of the Apollo missions. So what should Apple do? Take over the small-form-factor, mobile computer business of course! But where is the epiphany?
Well, my light bulb went on during the live blog when I saw the keyboard dock for the iPad. My thought was 'Holy cow, that looks just like a computer'. Guess what. It is a computer. And by all accounts I've read, it's a damn fast computer that runs iWork (I'll get to that in a minute). So while all the Microsofties will snicker at Apple having 7-9% of the installed desktop space, I'm guessing that Apple counts those numbers a little differently.
Now there are rumors that Apple is working on a larger iPad that is more like a computer. So, while Apple battles with Microsoft on the desktop front my guess is that they don't really care about that space. They are just keeping an opposing army busy while they completely dominate and take over the rest of the battlefield. Is there any question that Apple has and probably will continue to dominate the mobile phone and now the tablet space? Yes, I know that Microsoft is working with partners on iSlate and that Windows 7 is touch capable but if you think Microsoft can deliver a fully integrated and solid user experience then just read some of my KISS posts. They suck at UI and user experience.
Oh, and let's not forget about price. I recently read this piece about premium-priced computers. Apple computers are generally much more expensive than PCs but many will argue they are worth it. I own a Macbook Pro and I will admit that it is the best laptop I've ever owned. Form, function, and finish are all excellent. So it's easy to argue that they should sell for more but how much more? In any product comparison there is a price point where most people will not buy the better model. The price is just too high.
The base iPad sells for $499 so suddenly your grandma can get a fully functional Apple computer for < $500. So let me ask you this. If an Apple laptop is $1000 and the roughly equivalent PC is $600 which one do most people get? Easy right? The PC. But if the Apple is $500 and the PC is $250, now which one do most people get? Hmm. Not so easy. It's easy to see a future with a completely functional, touch screen, Apple computer for $750. I can tell you that unless things change with Windows, I know which one I'll get for my grandma.