Caught in the middle

Last week, Apple reported that they had sold more than a few truckloads of iPads. Of course, some Wall Street types weren't impressed. Which led some tech writers to question the iPad's future, Apple's innovation, Tim Cook's leadership style, Steve Jobs' legacy and Jony Ive's accent. (You can catch up here.)

Which got me thinking about my iPad and the fact that it's the least critical computer I own.

I say this as someone who loves their iPad. I've got a first generation iPad mini. The non-retina one. I use it regularly. But it's one of three machines that I own. I've got a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, too.

My MacBook had a hard drive failure recently. I repaired it within hours. If my iPhone was lost or stolen, I'd be at the Verizon store quickly. And if something happened to my iPad... well... I'd wait to replace it. I would miss it. I prefer the iPad for several daily tasks, but it doesn't serve a critical function for me. I can live without it.

I don't see this as a problem with the iPad, though. It's a testament to how useful the iPhone and MacBook are. I need the MacBook for Creative Cloud and type design software. I need my iPhone for phone calls, messaging and taking pictures. And I use the iPhone as the network connection for my iPad and MacBook when I can't get reliable wifi.

Not too long ago, I had a desktop and a laptop. Laptops were slow and underpowered. The screens were too small. You had a laptop for convenience, but you had a desktop to get things done. Over time, laptops improved. They got faster and had better screens. The prices came down. Battery life improved. I used the laptop more and more. And when it was time to replace my desktop, I didn't. I bought a new laptop. 

So all this chatter about whether the iPad has lost momentum? Give it time. These type of transitions take a long while. 

I believe that the iPad can replace a laptop for many people. Personally, I have specific software that I want to use. It will be a long, long time before an iPad can run the design software that I need. But someday, I could see my kids with with tablets as their primary computers instead of laptops.

I can confidently say that today, my iPad isn't as critical to me as my iPhone and my MacBook. I'm not sure, however, that will be true in 5 to 10 years.