The End Of The Laptop

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Let’s start with the story from a market of one

I bought the first iPad from Apple and loved it immediately. I wound up lugging it around with me all over the world along with my MacBook Pro. As soon as the latest version of the MacBook Air was released, I got one. It quickly became my most favorite computer of all time. I loved it so much that I didn’t understand why I would need to carry around the MacBook Air and the iPad at the same time. I loaned my iPad to a family member and quickly forgot about it. Once it was returned to me, I started fidgeting with it again and realized how much I enjoyed the experience. I went out and got the new iPad (3? HD? whatever!). Now, I’m busy carrying both the iPad and MacBook Air all over the world. The truth is that I use the MacBook Air for nothing but writing (blog posts, articles and books) and for publishing the audio podcast. That’s about it.

Tablets have come of age.

I’m not the only who feels this way. Looking out – not too far – into the horizon, I could see myself completely ditching the laptop/computer in lieu of the iPad. Yes, a couple of things need to happen (me getting more used to typing with it, multitasking, better content creation), but it doesn’t feel like any of those things are all that major. While some may say that I lie closer to the bleeding edge than most, it turns out that the bleeding edge is moving ever-closer to the center of mass adoption.

Are iPads killing laptops?

Earlier this week, Research Brief ran the news item, Is The Laptop Threatened By The Tablet?, which stated: "12% of iPad users already say the device has completely replaced their traditional laptop, while another 54% said it had partially replaced their laptop. In addition, 44% of marketers believe tablets will have a high or very high impact on laptop use in 2012." It’s not the first time that we’re experiencing dramatic transitions to new and emerging technologies, but we have to remember that the iPad didn’t even exist three years ago. So (once again) things are moving at an exponential rate. When Apple CEO, Tim Cook, took the stage to announce the latest iPad back in March, the most telling piece of data he revealed was that iPad 2 had outsold almost every PC in the previous year.

Fad or trend?

At first blush, many thought the tablet could be a fad. That the average consumer could never let go of the physical keyboard or the mouse. As usual, those people were wrong. The majority of people are not major content creators and are getting by – just fine, thank you very much – with a tablet. They can take and shoot pictures, write quick emails, create a Facebook status update and more. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the tablet is a true contender (not companion device) for what we had called the "home computer" or the "laptop."

It seems obvious.

While that may seem obvious to you and I, it’s a pretty startling revelation when you look at how quickly it came to market and how quickly the technology is evolving as well. For under eight hundred dollars any one of us can have significant computational power that is not only highly mobile, but with more-than-impressive connectivity speed (streaming videos stream just fine). From a marketing perspective, it’s even more fascinating: brands are still grappling with websites, e-commerce platforms and social media in a web-based browser world as they slowly trickle into mobile (on the smartphone side). So few are thinking about the utility, content and opportunity that tablets and the iPad bring. It’s a big deal. Rumors are abound today that Facebook will be built into the next Apple iOS (looks like iPhone first, then iPad) – more on that here: TechCrunchAfter Years Of Flirting, Facebook And Apple Set To Achieve Relationship Status In iOS 6. Suddenly, everyone is trying to figure out what their brand looks like when everyone can touch it in ways that they could never do before.

What does that tell you? Welcome to a faster pace of change.


  1. I use my iPad almost exclusively around the house, office and on the road. It still forces me to shape my work habits and expectations around the limitations of OS compatibility. I cannot upload files to my university course site, it also will not let me upload work files, graphics and file to many other sites. Sites still rely on graphic and video formats that are not tablet friendly, limiting the user experience. Until we move to a federated online standard (or something close), tablets and mobile device in general will be limited, saving the laptop for a little while longer

  2. We had this discussion the other day at our Business Over Breakfast Club ( BoB ) in regards to mobile marketing and that every business will need to get involved in having a mobile friendly application, which up to now has been an add on. Most of the members agreed that mobile marketing will be the wave of the future and that companies should move that to the top of the marketing pyramid something we did with websites in 2000 and sold as part of our solutions of marketing services. Ideally with a small keyboard you can use your pad for virtually everything except to store files. When that occurs I think you will see the end of the laptop. Pads are great, for reading, music, camera, writing searching etc. the next big winner in my mind is one that does it all and is small enough to be the size of a good book. Good thoughts Mitch for a rainy day in Ottawa

  3. I own an iPad and a smartphone, a laptop and here I am still getting ready to buy a new desktop. Why? Because the other hardware still can’t handle some of the applications I love. Sure, I’m probably in the minority. But nothing frustrates me more than my laptop freezing up because the graphics card heats up, or I stumbled across something cool that the iPad can’t show me. Bottom line is I think it’s still going to be awhile until we see laptops and desktops go by the wayside.

  4. In business, the laptop is being run over at the intersection of tablets and cloud-based apps. With a lower cost and a high degree of portability, even small businesses are automating parts of their customer value chain. Android is the initial choice due to the ability to side load apps.
    Businesses that repair laptops are contracting rapidly. Vendors have setup national repair centers in favor of local privately operated repair centers to combat the cost to repair units but also prepare for the reduction in demand brought on by tablet sales.

  5. In 2-3 years tops, the MacBook line, the iPad and iOS will merge into one device. A tablet with full laptop functionality, and the choice of external, onscreen, or holographic keyboard.
    All those technologies exist currently, but Apple’s simply waiting for consumer behavior to catch up.

  6. I don’t own a tablet and I don’t miss it. Now I suppose you can argue that because I don’t have one that I don’t realize what it can do for me.
    But I could reply by asking how many people own a tablet, be it iPad or some other model because I suspect that the numbers are still quite small.
    I am interested in owning one because I like gadgets and I see a number of different uses for it, but it is definitely not a priority. It costs too much and it doesn’t serve as a viable replacement yet for many of the things that I need it to do.
    Perhaps these things will be addressed in the near future and there will be a reason to change, but I remember hearing people say that about the Betamax too.

  7. After fighting the trend for a few years, I finally relented and got an iPad two weeks ago. It took me one day to realize my laptop’s days were numbered. And as the owner of a 24/7 connected digital agency owner, I can say that was no small shift.
    The moment of truth came a week later when I took a one day business trip to Texas, where I was to give a presentation. I left the laptop at home, brought only my iPad, and didn’t miss a thing. SlideShark replaced Powerpoint, and the one time I did need to do a file transfer, I was able to use LogMeIn to remotely access my desktop and do what I needed. And instead of having to pace myself to figure out how to milk my 2 hour battery charge, the extended iPad battery life made me productive for all 13 of the hours in the airports and on the planes without needing to find an outlet.
    My laptop is increasingly sitting silent or being used as a second desktop

  8. I do not have an iPad yet, but I rarely touch a “full” computer outside of work hours since I got my iPhone years ago. I do not even bring my work laptop home, and no longer have a home desktop computer. I have developed work-arounds for any small things I can not do via my phone, or perhaps more honestly, just don’t do anything that I can’t do via my iPhone.

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