The iPad Discord: Thoughts on iPad disruption of the PC Market

 » 15 Jan 2012

A few discussions that have come together in my life in the last couple of weeks lead me to believe that this graph on CNN (via Daring Fireball) that shows major growth of iPad sales and PC sales decline.

My inputs are all circumstantial but I can quite believe the graph shows causation, not merely corrolation.

The iPad discord

My iPad is my favourite device, but the one I could most easily do without.

This realisation came to me when my wife ended up with a free iPad as a result of a work benefit. “What do I use it for?” my response was “everything except complicated stuff”.

I reach most often for the iPad for instapaper reading, web surfing, the guardian app, note-taking, writing, twitter and gaming. It’s, most often, the best device for me. I can do all these things on my phone or laptop but not as enjoyably.


In these early days of the ‘post PC era’ we’re still not in a place where advanced spreadsheeting, serious coding or even pulling from dispirate applications is possible. Not yet.

So I couldn’t give up my laptop for these more specialised tasks, and obviously as the CTO and lead programmer on a startup that’s not realistic. And I wouldn’t enjoy giving up the power of the portable smartphone in my pocket.

Not replacement, supplement

The other thing I notice is the appearence of iPads in the hands of people for whom computers are not such a key tool in their lifestyle. Parents of friends & people who keep their work at work in corporate jobs. They likely have a computer at home, but rarely use it for complicated stuff, but every now and then they do.

My theory is this:

Instead of an aging PC being replaced with a new one it is simply relegated to those ‘once in a blue moon’ tasks and a new, relatively cheap, iPad becomes the everyday machine, because it’s better for that 80% of cases and it’s cheaper. The old PC is kept around to do those few tasks that are more suited to a traditional keyboard and mouse arrangement.

I think the PC market is suffering from a) a recession and b) the relatively cheap iPad eating into their PC replacement sales. In addition, the iPad is a high margin product whereas the PCs it’s cannabising are low margin and cheaply made. This could get really bad for the PC hardware guys.

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