Why The iPad Matters

In an article titled…

How Important Is The iPad?

Tim Bajarin writes about four key reasons why he thinks Steve Jobs considers the iPad to be his most important achievement. All of the reasons point to possible changes to the definition of personal computing. The first two, that the iPad makes computing transparent to users and that the iPad will usher in the era of touch computing, I agree with. Both of these points regard simplifying personal computing, which many people consider to be too complex.

The third reason that Bajarin proposes is that the iPad targets what most users do on their computers, which is consume information. Bajarin states that consumption is 70 percent of what we do on computers, though he doesn’t cite any evidence on that number. What this means is that for most people a personal computer is pretty much just another form of television. I personally think most people do much more creation with their computers than Jobs or Bajarin think. To me, the simple act of offloading pictures from a phone or camera and uploading them to a web site, is creation and not consumption.

Bajarin’s final reason is the most confusing, as he calls the iPad a “chameleon.” By that he means that the iPad can be tailored to fit a wide variety of use cases. While that may be true, how is that any different than a PC or even a smartphone?

It is very likely that the iPad is worthy of the lofty claim of being Job’s most important achievement, and frankly, who am I to tell him what he should be most proud of accomplishing? To me, I think the iPad’s importance will be measured in two areas. First, how does the iPad impact personal computer sales? If there are significant decreases in PC sales and high iPad (and other tablet computer) sales, then clearly the iPad will have had an impact on redefining personal computing. The second measure will be, how many people buy an iPad or other tablets who never had, nor will, buy a personal computer. This second measure will tell me whether the iPad draws people to personal computing in a way that actual PCs were not able to achieve.