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Steve Jobs Gets What He Really Wanted: A Debate on the Future of Computing



There’s no question that yesterday Apple showed that it sets the rules when it comes to Tablets. They’ve done it before. I’m guessing somewhere down the line they will do it again. More intriguingly Apple’s recent announcement, both in style and substance has transformed not only the world of Tablets, but the discussion about the future of computing. I’m thinking that’s exactly the conversation Steve Jobs wants.

Take a look at some of these posts and editorials. Xavier here on GBM says specs don’t matter. Joshua Topolsky on Engadget is saying much the same, but putting it into a broader vision context. I’ve been saying that for quite some time. Some folks keep focusing on style and some, like Seth Weintraub actually think that the truth in all of this marketing matters. Sure it does on some level and Weintraub points out some good facts that should be questioned. But then, that’s not called marketing.  Anyone who writes for Fortune should know that’s how the game is played by all parties. In any regard, passions seem to be running high. That’s only natural because the stakes are high and getting higher.

Topolsky is right, Jobs and Apple are defining the future and it is one that upsets a lot of apple carts. It requires some new thinking and dare I say it new paradigms. That new thinking challenges not just what we think about computers and computing, but how we think about information and how we consume and create it. If you’re hung up on specs you’re playing yesterday’s game and that’s OK. There has to be yesterday before there can be a tomorrow. If you’re hung up on marketing style and looking for the truth, that train left the station before many of the readers and writers of this blog were born. And I’d wager that there’s not a company out there sweating bullets on the future that wouldn’t give have their stock value for a piece of how Apple masters that game. And that’s a crucially important point on how this is all playing out around us. Apple is changing not only the rules of the game but how we talk about the game itself. Jobs boldly calls it a Post-PC world. Watch closely over the next months and you’ll see that begin to stick. Within a year or so it will be a cliché. Of course at the moment you still have to sync your iPad up to a PC. But I’m guessing that’s going to change at some point as well.

Be grateful we live in such interesting times.



  1. Roberto

    03/04/2011 at 5:00 am

    I disagree somewhat that spec’s don’t matter. Spec’s may not matter to you when you first buy the device, but when you can’t do the things you need to do with the device, then specs become real important. A large company here in that I work for in So Cal bought about 100 I-pads about 8 months ago and gave to their sales force are not working out for them at all. While it has helped with E-Mails and showing sales info (and the sales guys like them for personal stuff), the work to get them all loaded up and being married to I-tunes & laptops according to the boss’ is being close to not worth it and they are considering abandoning I-pads for something else. A final decision hasn’t been made, but all of sudden they are real interested in specs. So while my uncle might not care about specs (all though he is starting to notices that stuff more) spec’s will matter to people who are using them for work.

  2. LeMel

    03/04/2011 at 10:42 pm

    These other companies don’t let design lead. At Apple, the design leadership is the ultimate authority and has the final say. Design demands the device be 33% thinner, and it doesn’t get signed off until it is 33% thinner. And their brilliant engineers get it done. This kind of thing won’t happen at other companies – a power struggle ensues with compromises as the outcome. Only the user’s experience matters. Apple will design and build a custom chip fab in Asia before they will let go of that 33%. They take the big risks so they kind of deserve the rewards. Yeah, they make bad calls, some are even core (vilifying handwriting, styluses and sketching, for example. Just dumb.)

    Companies wanting to compete with the iPad aren’t starting with the user. Ironically, they are starting with the iPad.

  3. Dave_in_MI

    03/05/2011 at 2:00 am

    My problem is with Jobs hijacking the term “Tablet” and trying to use it exclusively for his fancy, new media player. It’s like Toyota mega-marketing the Prius as a “truck”, because Americans love their trucks. But it’s a better truck because it’s small and cute and has an electric motor. Problem is… you can’t pull stumps or haul trailers with a Prius. The term “Tablet” should refer to the category of devices, with Media Tablets (iPad, Xoom, etc), Slate TabletPCs (Motion, HP Slate, etc), and Convertible TabletPCs (HP TM2, etc) as sub-categories. We just have to keep correcting people when they use the wrong terms… like when they call a digital pen a “stylus”. :-)

    FYI: I ran across an interesting series of YouTube vids today (posted Jan 27th), featuring an artist comparing the Asus Eee EP121 Slate to Wacom’s 21″ Cintiq (3 parts). Yeah, it’s bigger, heavier, more expensive than the iPad and it has horrible battery life… but that big, HD display with insane viewing angles, Gorilla glass, and Wacom digitizer is intriguing. Judging from the number of other videos of people testing the artistic capabilities of the EP121, I think Asus could be in the position to grab a big chunk of the tablet market the way Motion has with it slates geared towards hospitals & health care. If Asus listens to the creative/artistic community when working on the second generation EP121, they’ll be way ahead of the curve. Jobs will have to backtrack and create his own digitizer/pen combo to catch up.

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