Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Oh, Please, Not This Nonsense iPad vs. PC Story Again

Chris Matyszczyk, writing for ZDNet — a website that thinks so little about its readers that it runs two autoplaying video ads on every page, covers stories in multiple modal sheets asking for your email address or whatever, and begs you to turn on notifications — says that “Apple finally admits iPad Pro won’t replace your PC”.

Surprised? Me too; that surely does not sound like something Apple would say, especially after, as Matyszczyk recounts, the company has spent years saying the opposite:

Two years ago, Apple presented an ad in which a young woman, devoted to her iPad Pro, claimed not to even know what a computer was.

In case you’re wondering: yes, Matyszczyk will liberally be linking to himself writing several iterations of this argument in previous unsubstantial articles.

The year before, the company insisted iPad Pro was a computer and appealed to users to merely imagine what that computer could do. Microsoft burst out laughing. Yes, publicly.

It sure is embarrassing when Microsoft executives are laughing in public about their competitors’ products.

Apple was undeterred. Last year, it presented five reasons why iPad Pro is a computer. One of which was that, oh, it has that indispensable computer element: a pencil.

Another was that it “goes anywhere.” Because your MacBook Air simply refuses to fly United Airlines.

Matyszczyk is so lazy, he even copied his joke from last year:

Unlike your laptop, which, I assume, insists on flying First Class or it’s not going to get on that darned plane with you. Not even for Thanksgiving.

Nailed it. I mean, it isn’t quite as punchy as the ad embedded immediately above this very sick burn wherein the iPad is implied being used in the middle of a forest because it’s connected over LTE and has really long battery life, but still: nailed it.

Anyway, Matyszczyk meanders through his alternate history of Apple’s iPad marketing before arriving at his thesis:

The company’s senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, can reach for haughtiness on occasion, such as when he insisted that if your kids use Chromebooks they’ll fail at school.

However, in the same interview, he offered CNET these life-affirming words: “We believe the best personal computer is a Mac, and we want to keep going down that path. And we think the best tablet computing device is an iPad, and we’ll go down that path.”

And into these two generalized sentences Matyszczyk has somehow read that Apple will no longer say that the iPad could conceivably replace a PC for many tasks. Think that’s something of a leap? Not as much of a leap as the way Matyszczyk has skillfully excised that quote from its original context:

Roger Cheng: Today’s news is all about the MacBook Pro 16 and Mac Pro, but where does the iPad Pro fit in this pro lineup?

Phil Schiller: We look at these things a bit independently. […]

So now there are a lot of cases where people will use iPad, especially with Pencil, as an artist-creation tool or as a field-compute tool. What we find is there’s a fair number of people who actually spend more of their compute time on their iPad than personal computer. They didn’t choose one or the other. That’s just where they spent a lot of their time.

What the team has done is try to find ways that the two can work together, where one plus one equals three instead of two. We’ve created technologies like Sidecar that allow your iPad to work alongside your Mac, and that you do use the Pencil on Mac applications. The idea of a second display on the road, that’s flexible enough when you travel, is a really cool solution for pro users. And so that fills a need…no one’s ever done that before.

We allow customers to decide which one they want to spend more time on and then we try to find ways they work together if you happen to have both.

Cheng: You don’t envision a future where they merge?

Schiller: No, that’s not our view. Because then you get this in-between thing, and in-between things are never as good as the individual things themselves. We believe the best personal computer is a Mac, and we want to keep going down that path. And we think the best tablet computing device is an iPad, and we’ll go down that path.

iPad benefits because we assume that you need to be able to do most everything with touch, and we don’t have to trade off on that experience. Mac assumes you want to do most everything with a keyboard and mouse input. We don’t have to trade off on that path. You can look at some of the other products that will try to go halfway between the two. They end up just compromising experiences. That’s not good.

Schiller was responding to a question that Apple has been asked since they launched the first iPad with an answer that has remained effectively unchanged in that time. Besides, if Apple were really pulling back on their messaging of the iPad as a computer, don’t you think they’d update the second slide of their terrible iPad Pro marketing page?

Matyszczyk continues:

What lifts my soul, however, is that Schiller has finally conceded that there’s more than one way of being productive.

Schiller has made this argument several times previously, most notably in what Philip Elmer-DeWitt calls his “grand unifying theory” of Apple:

As a rule, Philip Schiller told Backchannel’s Steven Levy, you should be using the smallest possible device to do as much work as possible, before going to the next largest gadget in line.

And then Matyszczyk gets weird:

Indeed, he appeared to concede that typing on an iPad Pro is as elegant as rushing to your lover’s house on a Segway.

An analogy that paints quite the vivid picture, if I do say so myself.

So now I can open my iPad Pro and watch obscure foreign TV series — have you seen Norway’s “Unge Lovende”? It’s really quite good — without deep injections of guilt searing through my sinews.

The metaphor farm is closed for the season; all that’s left are these scraps.

I truly am looking forward to hearing the continued adventures of the Segway-using lover in Matyszczyk’s next piece about Apple’s continuing references to the iPad as a computer, which I assume will drop days-to-weeks following the release of a new iPad. He gets paid to write this stuff, you know.