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Steve Jobs was right: personal computers are going to die


A single technological trend has dominated the decade of 2010: the smart phone. For its part, the tablet is a huge cell phone and the personal computer, both desktop and laptop, is relegated among user preferences

Recently, I bought a
        
iPad Pro
        
 and I'm in love with her.

It was unexpected. I had already had some iPads but, like many people, I don't think they were very useful. The
        
tablets
        
 they were good to surf the net and see
        
Netflix
        
 , but the accusation that you can't work much on them has always weighed them.

Apple's latest iPad is different. Not only can you do your job on them; In many ways they are dream machines for productivity. The power of today's iPads depends on processors with a custom design that are faster than the chips on some of the Macs that Apple makes, and the keyboard for the iPad sold separately is better and more durable than the damn keyboard mess that Apple sends in its current and generally neglected line of laptops.

On November 13, Apple unveiled a
new sixteen-inch MacBook with a renewed keyboard, good news for many of Apple lovers who have complained about the latest battered Macs batch. However, I think the iPad is already beginning to overshadow the traditional
        
personal computer
        
 . In the four months that I have had this last model, the iPad Pro has consumed the time I spent on my phone, as well as on my laptop and desktop computers of the old guard. Among other things, I now research and write almost all my columns with an iPad (I still create many of my first drafts orally, dictating them to my headphones, but I'm a weirdo).

Last year, I thought I had left the device review business forever. Because the smart phone had engulfed everything, from cameras to music players and portable video game systems, to declare that the entire field of devices was dead. However, just when I thought I had left, they pulled me back.


Microsoft was the first to develop a tablet with keyboard and stylus, but the latest updates of the iPad allowed to evolve the benefits of the Apple tabletMicrosoft was the first to develop a tablet with keyboard and stylus, but the latest updates of the iPad allowed to evolve the benefits of the Apple tablet

The history of the iPad is a story about consolidation, concentration and the power of scale in the technology business. It is a story about the meticulousness with which a company, Apple, has dominated the entire hardware business in this decade. In addition, in reality, it is also a story about the only thing that mattered in the technology sector in the decade of 2010 – the smart phone – and the way a device became the gravitational center of the entire technology business, shaping all markets in the industry, and a good part of the non-technological world outside the sector.

The iPad has always been loaded with high expectations. Although it was
launched in 2010,
three years after the iPhone, the development of the iPad preceded the development of the phone, and
        
Steve Jobs
        
 , Apple's co-founder, always gave the impression that he had his heart on the tablet.

In one of his last interviews before his death, in 2011, Jobs declared that the iPad will be the future of computing.
"Personal computers will be like trucks," said journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. That is, the traditional Mac and Windows machines would continue to exist but, as with large trucks, they will only be useful for a small group of users specialized in a waning set of specific and high-power tasks. The "cars" of the technology industry, according to Jobs, were going to be phones and tablets.

For a while, he was right only to a certain extent. The iPad sold well when they launched it, but after a few years it ran into some obstacles. After Jobs died, Apple let the iPad languish and did something similar with the Mac.

Meanwhile, something amazing happened with the iPhone and with many of the imitations of Android phones that this inspir. In the decade of 2010, smart phones became more popular, powerful and profitable than anyone in the technology industry would have thought possible. After a few years, its sales and usage levels eclipsed those of personal computers, and for a good part of the decade they were the source of almost all the innovations for the consumer throughout the technology industry. Smart phones made possible the existence of Uber, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. The smart phone cameras began to outperform the independent cameras, with which a good part of culture and society became a playground flooded with memes where visual media matter more than text.

The smart phone also changed the commercial dynamics of the technology industry. When the iPhone came out, Apple was just one of many successful companies in the world that manufactured hardware. However, the smart phone tithes to many brands of phones (remember Nokia? Motorola?) And, as smart phones gained more power, they began to make life impossible for a number of emerging companies that manufactured hardware, from GoPro to Jawbone.

Thanks to the strength of the iPhone, Apple began to get an increasingly large slice of the technology hardware business; Even if you don't sell most of your units, your commitment to the high-end market allows you to get the bulk of the profits. According to an estimate, in the last quarter of 2017, Apple earned 86 percent of profits in the smart phone industry.

Apple's dominance came despite the fact that the company made some important mistakes and adopted many crucial innovations in a timely manner. Samsung, not Apple, invented phones with huge screens. Apple's Mac line was plagued with delays and dead ends, including a
2013 new Mac Pro design that looked like a trash can and proved to be just as useful. And, as for the iPad, for many years, Apple seemed to simply fall asleep. The optical pencil and the design focused on the iPad keyboard?
Microsoft did it first for the Surface.

However, none of that was important. Due to its control over the smart phone business and an addictive software ecosystem that users find it difficult to abandon, Apple has been able to incorporate many innovations that were pioneers elsewhere and sell its customers a series of multi-billion dollar peripheral businesses, among them the Apple Watch and the AirPods.