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It’s sort of funny that the only major thing those in the rumor business got wrong was the name of the new iPad. It’s not the previously presumed “iPad 3″, nor is it the “iPad HD”. It’s just the iPad. And that’s what it will be from now on.
This was surprising because our expectations were set for a new name. But it really shouldn’t be all that surprising. My iMac is not the “iMac 11″. My MacBook Air is not the “MacBook Air 4″. The iPod line changes, but the name remains the same. This will undoubtedly happen to the iPhone line as well. Just as the spec is dying (more than partially ushered to the grave by Apple), the ascending number naming race is dying too. It’s about simplicity.
Apple can pull this off because they have so few products and they’re in complete control of all of them. Their software isn’t licensed to other OEMs. The iPad doesn’t have to be called the “iPad 3X HD S” just to beat the “iPad 3X Turbo” made by a competitor. There are no real competitors. Not yet, anyway. The naked “iPad” name alone is enough to win.
Enough about the name. The real key to today’s event was a theme Apple is going to hit on again and again for the foreseeable future: the “Post-PC Revolution”. These were some of the first words out of Tim Cook’s mouth when he took the stage today. Yes, it’s a theme that began with Steve Jobs, but after Apple’s insane last quarter (the first under Cook as permanent CEO), it has never been more clear that Apple has evolved far beyond a mere PC company. They still make them. But they’re a sliver of the business.
Apple has sold 315 million “Post-PC” devices (read: iOS devices) in total. In just the past year, Apple sold 172 million of them. And last quarter alone, they sold 62 million, as they made up 76 percent of Apple’s revenues. This Post-PC segment is now the heart of the company. And the movement is accelerating. “Apple has its feet firmly planted in the Post-PC future,” Cook said.
Right now, the iPhone is king of the Post-PC world. But Cook and others at Apple have had no reluctance in predicting that the iPad business could be even larger one day. Something Cook said on stage today reiterates that stance. “We think the iPad is the poster child of the Post-PC world.” The iPad. Not the iPhone.
Cook then put up his stunning graph. The iPad sold 15.4 million units last quarter. That was more than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line worldwide. HP sold 15.1 million PCs. Lenovo sold 13 million PCs. Dell sold 11.9 million PCs. Acer sold 9.8 million PCs. A year from now, don’t be surprised if this gap is significantly wider.
“Apples to oranges! Apples to oranges!” I hear you. But you’re wrong. Apples to Apple. Stats like this do matter because they show where we’re headed. It’s not necessarily that the iPad is beating the PC, it’s that iPad beat the PC in under two years of existence. This drives PC people batty, but the numbers don’t lie. PC sales have peaked. In many cases, they’re going the wrong way. The iPad is just getting started.
What’s more likely — 5 years from now, your primary home computing device is a PC? Or 5 years from now, your primary home computing device is a tablet? Just two years ago, this question would have been an absolute joke. Now it’s a joke to think it will take a full five years.
There’s strong push-back to this idea because people generally don’t like change. It’s hard to understand. We take comfort in the familiar. It’s hard to think about and write about the future because it’s always unknown. The risk of being wrong is great. But here the writing is very clearly on the wall.
“We set out not just to create a new product, but a new category,” Cook said of the iPad. And they did. But a few years from now, it could very well be the case that the PC gets lumped into this very category as a small portion of the market.
Apple doesn’t want the iPad to be put into the PC category because it’s limited and decaying. The PC people don’t want the iPad to be put into their category because it makes them look even worse. But again, 5 years from now, which will be your main personal computing device? That’s all that matters.