Jean-Louis Gassee doesn't know who an iPad is for, and thinks you don't either

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in iPad
Ex-Apple executive and longtime Apple commentator Jean-Louis Gassee says the iPad is failing. It's clear that he doesn't know what it's for, but that in no way makes it a dying product.




Jean-Louis Gassee is not afraid to use his long-running Monday Note blog to be controversial about Apple, but usually he's got at least a hint of a valid point. This week, he's phoned it in with what would be wrong if it were the two sentences it should be, and is complete nonsense at the kilo-word length it is.

It's true that iPad sales are lower than they were at the 2014 peak. But Gassee wants to make this point about users not knowing what the iPad is for -- and he rewrites history to do it.
In 2010, Steve Jobs, known for his affirmative, ringing positioning statements, hemmed and hawed with eerie prescience:
"iPad has to find its place between the iPhone and the Mac."
Nope.

Disagree with Steve Jobs or not, believe him or not, he did not hem or haw in the slightest. He also didn't say the words in that quote, either, not at the iPad launch.

Instead, Jobs was declarative. He said that a third category of device, "something that's between a laptop and a smartphone," would have to do certain things.

"The bar is pretty high," he said. "In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. They're going to have to be far better at doing some really important things. Better than the laptop. Better than the smartphone."

He then gave examples of what people use devices for, such as browsing the web, doing email, reading.

"If there's going to be a third category of device," he continued, "it's going to have to be better at these kinds of tasks than a laptop or a smartphone."

"Otherwise it has no reason for being," he said, with definition. That's not hemming and hawing. This is what a new class of device would have to have, would have to be.

The 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the Magic Keyboard
The 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro on the Magic Keyboard


He then mocked some who believed at the time that the now completely dead netbook concept was this third class of device.

"The problem is that netbooks aren't better at anything," Jobs said. "But we think we've got something that is and we'd like to show it to you today for the first time. And we call it the iPad."

There you go. This is what we need, this is what the iPad is, off we go -- and Jobs was clear.

It's true that many, possibly including Gassee, would like the iPad to work like a Mac. It's also true that, unlike with Jobs, Tim Cook actually did say the words Gassee attributes to him.

"The iPad is the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing," Cook said. He has continued to maintain that view for years at this point.

And it's true that with the M2 processor the iPad hardware is confusingly more powerful than its own software lets it be. So if Gassee wants to question the line about it being the "clearest expression," that's fine.

It's also obviously fine that he wants to slam Stage Manager on iPad, because as it stands, it isn't great. Yet in an argument that claims no one knows what an iPad is, taking time out to criticize something it has seems to not prove what he wants it to.

Similarly, saying that the iPad has become like the Microsoft Surface isn't wrong, it just isn't addressing the issue at hand.

Instead, bringing up the Surface just reminds you that Microsoft and any other tablet manufacturer on the planet would kill to have sales figures like the iPad.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    JLG is right. 

    I mean, it's the perfect device for playing solitaire.  It's not good for much of anything else outside of a few niche applications like medical check-in stations.

    It's not a phone.  It's not a computer.  It's this weird thing that just isn't good for much, and it always has been.
    cornchipcanukstormgrandact73blastdoorelijahgwilliamlondonbala1234
  • Reply 2 of 58
    Smartphones and computers are not iPad either. 
    Panifexhumanaftera11jeffharrisdanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 58
    Sounds like Gassee is still bitter that Apple didn't want to pay him $275 million for BeOS and opted to give Steve much more for NeXT instead..
    Panifexroundaboutnowcornchipmike1bloggerblogjimdreamworxravnorodomentropyslolliverhumanaftera11
  • Reply 4 of 58
    I completely disagree that the iPad is failing or that it's not good for much. I use my iPad every day, and that's been true for the 7 different iPad models I've bought since 2010. It's substantially better for reading than my phone or my Mac, whether I'm reading a Kindle book or aggregated news and media via an app like Flipboard. I find it to be capable when I'm away from home as a computer replacement with the Magic Keyboard (obviously workflow needs are highly individual, but this has been my own experience), and it's better for tasks like signing documents when buying/selling a house, signing contracts, etc. It's also earned a spot among my various gaming devices for playing certain types of games. I vastly prefer browsing Reddit or watching YouTube on my iPad than on my phone, and the list goes on and on. It's replaced dedicated cash register hardware for small businesses around the world, and it's versatile enough to replace niche specialized hardware in fields like archaeology. Just because some individuals don't have a place for an iPad within their own specific workflows and personal lives, that hardly qualifies them to declare the device a failure when millions of us use an iPad every day.
    badmonkchadbagmacplusplusbloggerblogjimdreamworxwaveparticlegregoriusmStrangeDayskiltedgreenlolliver
  • Reply 5 of 58
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,575member
    I’ll be the first to admit that I originally bought the iPad (and later the iPad Pro) primarily to be a “couch computer,” i.e. to take care of light business like texts and web surfing when not seated at a desk. And it worked great for that.

    Then, again with a non-pro iPad, I later wondered if it could handle everything I might want to do while I was away on a trip, and so I put it to the test. And it handled this with ease, leaving me free to enjoy my vacation without having to lug around a MacBook and all the accessories one tends to include with that.

    It wasn’t long before I figured out that the iPad — particularly with a keyboard case — was the perfect lightweight computer for seniors and light-duty users of all ages. They want the stuff they have on their iPhone (and maybe Word or Excel), some games, FaceTime/Messages, without having to “learn” an “operating system” or do any maintenance, run an anti-virus, etc. It’s the perfect computer for people who don’t like computers and feel intimidated by them.

    While I’m not much of an artist, the Pencil made it possible for people from children to storyboard artists to obtain a very affordable drawing tablet, and now Scribble has made it an ideal tool for traditional-style notetakers. It’s possible now to make a quick-but-slick video on one, making it ideal for students.

    With my iPad Pro, I can get all of my routine duties accomplished using a keyboard and trackpad (my favourite combination. I jumped at the Magic Keyboard when I found one refurbished and now I have a very compact office where I can write, draw, edit audio, check finances, read, play games, kill time or be incredibly productive — nearly everywhere. For more hours than my MBP can work these days.

    iPads certainly do have some pro-level limitations, but people who dismiss it as “not a real computer,” like apparently Mr. Gasbag (I mean Gasseé) are being patently short-sighted and look ridiculous for saying so. It’s like saying a car is “not a real vehicle” because you own a truck.
    roundaboutnowchadbagmacplusplusgregoriusmStrangeDayskiltedgreenlogic2.6FileMakerFellerjeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 58
    I’m currently lying on the couch reading AI, and no phone or laptop would be nearly as practical for this. For any kind of media/content consumption, nothing beats it for convenience and flexibility, although there are obviously specific cases where other devices have an edge, and if you spend all of your time out on the town or typing, you may not use one as much. When I got my first iPad, I expected to only use it occasionally, but I ended up using it for hours every day, much more than my phone or my computer.
    badmonkchadbagjimdreamworxgregoriusmStrangeDayskiltedgreenlolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 58
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,398member
    darkvader said:
    JLG is right. 

    I mean, it's the perfect device for playing solitaire.  It's not good for much of anything else outside of a few niche applications like medical check-in stations.

    It's not a phone.  It's not a computer.  It's this weird thing that just isn't good for much, and it always has been.
    Says someone that obviously hasn’t touched one in a few years. 

    I do all of my art, painting, drawing, cartooning, writing, video editing on my iPad. I have a 2015 iMac, that I use to remote into a windows system, and not much else. And oh yeah, when I was on the road the iPad would do that as well. Just this week I got Affinity Publisher and now do all of my page layup on the iPad as well. That was one of the last things I needed a Mac for. With the new improved external monitor support I’m really thinking of ditching the Mac completely. 

    And yes it is the perfect device for playing solitaire, and all sorts of games, and reading, and movies, and interacting, and more. 

    Next time you want to criticize something, you might try having a clue about what you are talking. 
    badmonkchadbagmacplusplusjimdreamworxStrangeDaysscstrrfkiltedgreenlolliverlogic2.6WhiskeyAPPLEcider
  • Reply 8 of 58
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,273member
    Use case 1: my daughter is in tenth grade. Her iPad and iPhone are her only computers. All of her schoolwork, notes, and schoolbooks are handled on the iPad/Pencil. 

    Use case 2: The live music industry has been largely revolutionised by iPad.
    a) Remote mixing is the norm. A sound engineer will walk through the venue during sound check and adjust the mix using his iPad to control the mixing console. 
    b) Our onstage monitor mixes (making sure the musicians onstage hear the other musicians, click tracks, cues, and talkline, etc.) used to require a dedicated engineer, or be handled as extra duty by the front-of-house mixer. It has become the norm to have a wifi-enabled rack mixer for monitoring, with each musician using an iPad (or smartphone) to control their own individual mix. 
    c) Paper notation is a thing of the past. Cover bands with massive binders full of sheets for a six-hour gig are a very, very rare thing these days. iPad completely replaced paper for most of us. 
    d) it's not just paper replacement, but sound program changer, synth remote control, and, for a number of us, actual sound engine, as well. 
    badmonkchadbagmacplusplusgregoriusmmattinozlolliverlogic2.6FileMakerFellerwatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 9 of 58
    JLG is out of touch. My wife now only uses my old iPad, and I never have to assist her as I had to when she used a computer.
    edited November 22 badmonkgregoriusmlolliverlogic2.6watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 58
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,800member
    darkvader said:
    JLG is right. 

    I mean, it's the perfect device for playing solitaire.  It's not good for much of anything else outside of a few niche applications like medical check-in stations.

    It's not a phone.  It's not a computer.  It's this weird thing that just isn't good for much, and it always has been.
    Just because you’re clueless doesn’t mean the rest of us are.  I’m building a house using my iPad.  My daughter creates art on it.  I also use it for browsing and stuff at home when I’m not in front of the computer.  The iPad is very useful if you want it to be. 
    macpluspluskiltedgreenlolliverlogic2.6jeffharrisbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 58
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,106member
    And I would add that iPads are incredibly stable & long-lived compared to computers and phones, personally I need all three & each has their own benefits.
    macpluspluslolliverlogic2.6jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 58
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,075member
    DAalseth said:
    darkvader said:
    JLG is right. 

    I mean, it's the perfect device for playing solitaire.  It's not good for much of anything else outside of a few niche applications like medical check-in stations.

    It's not a phone.  It's not a computer.  It's this weird thing that just isn't good for much, and it always has been.
    Says someone that obviously hasn’t touched one in a few years. 

    I do all of my art, painting, drawing, cartooning, writing, video editing on my iPad. I have a 2015 iMac, that I use to remote into a windows system, and not much else. And oh yeah, when I was on the road the iPad would do that as well. Just this week I got Affinity Publisher and now do all of my page layup on the iPad as well. That was one of the last things I needed a Mac for. With the new improved external monitor support I’m really thinking of ditching the Mac completely. 

    And yes it is the perfect device for playing solitaire, and all sorts of games, and reading, and movies, and interacting, and more. 

    Next time you want to criticize something, you might try having a clue about what you are talking. 

    That's why he's blocked. Only saw his inane post in your response.
    DAalsethStrangeDayslolliverwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 58
    rraburrabu Posts: 264member
    chadbag said:

    Just because you’re clueless doesn’t mean the rest of us are.  I’m building a house using my iPad.  My daughter creates art on it.  I also use it for browsing and stuff at home when I’m not in front of the computer.  The iPad is very useful if you want it to be. 
    But I bet you use 2 different iPads. My only gripe is lack of multi user support. 
    bloggerblogscstrrflogic2.6watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 58
    If you don’t have work to do, and you don’t have cable, and you always say you’d like to draw more but don’t, the iPad is perfect for you, a college student, and no one else. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Some of the commentary here is utterly and hilariously clueless--individuals who see no use for an iPad themselves and thus conclude that it's useless for almost everyone. This not only ignores the countless millions who DO find it useful, but also the iPad's huge presence in so many businesses, from hospitals to restaurants to retail stores, where it has become the de facto "cash register" of choice for cashless commerce. 

    The most valid criticism of iPad remains its inexplicably deficient operating system. How is it that a device with the hardware power to leave most laptops in the dust is STILL an OS kludge when it comes to the basic act of multitasking? How is it that a computer company capable of attracting the best software talent in the business and putting near limitless resources at their disposal can't do better than Stage Manager after 12 years of OS development? It has always felt that Apple has intentionally kept iPad from living up to its full software potential for fear of hurting Macbook sales. The hardware speed advances in recent years have made no practical sense beyond marketing because they exceeded the capabilities of the OS long ago. It would be great to one day see the iPad live up to its full potential and make use of the hardware power at its disposal, but I don't think Apple has any intention of allowing that to happen. 
    kiltedgreenlogic2.6muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 58
    I am an older IT guy and programmer..

    I no longer need high end computer power, Apple Silicon exceeds my current needs...maybe if 3d stuff really happens I'll need more.

    I loved my 2nd Gen iPad...had to replace the screen 3x and now it is mostly retired to playing music and simple things in my shop where it will probably continue to be abused until it dies.  I haven't been able to replace it though I very much want to, I had high hopes when the Pros came that maybe it would evolve toward the Mac....maybe an M2 or similar one day.  If only it could run a few critical Mac apps I could almost give up my MacBook.  My GF uses her iPad Air for hours everyday.  She has a new laptop and an iPhone13 and the iPad is her go to device for entertainment.  For myself I prefer the big screen TV but she actually prefers to stream video on her own device close up.  Add AirPods and she can consume all the net has to offer for hours on end.  And of yes the iPad does mostly the same stuff as the iPhone but frankly the bigger screen is nice for video and reading etc...

    Give me an iPad that can run the few Mac only apps I need, and provide a connection to a nice sized monitor (2.5k or 4k) and a keyboard and mouse option and I am set.  I find I often don't need the accessories but when I am working at a desk which is 50% of the time..given MacOS apps even a good sized iPad with on screen keyboard and I would be able to do the lighter away from the desk stuff and then 'dock it' for the serious stuff...no more desktop, or laptop required...still need the phone, or maybe watch for true on the go activities.  

    Apple:  Please provide an ipad (maybe only Pro or some other 'model') that can run some form of MacOS that allows for full Mac apps and not just stuff from the app store with all the restrictions.  I accept the user experience might be more complex or 'dangerous' but no more than on my Mac.  I need a truly flexible platform when working outside the box and yes MacBook air is nice but just make it in the iPad pro removable KeyBoard/Mouse format please.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 58
    You know what else? I automobile will never replace the trusty horse. 🙄

    I use my iPad Pro 11” everyday as my consumption device, but also as a replacement for my Wacom. An iPad with Astropad Studio is an amazing addition to my digital toolset. Procreate, Illustrator, TouchDraw 2, and I’ve written two novels on my iPads (I’ve had others). The game-changer for me is the Logitech Keyboard Folio which makes the iPad very Surfacey. That’s one thing Microsoft got right, the kickstand and detachable keyboard.
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 58
    Somebody please tell this person that as of now, there are some 500 million iPads out there...
    lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 58
    From my perspective, the primary reason that iPad sales are down is that once you have an iPad you're good for quite a few years. The things last forever and that's not much a new model can do that an earlier version can not.

    So most people who think they need one, or have a use case for one, already have one and won't need another one for a long, long time.

    I also think the M1/M2 Air has moved into the iPad's space as well. Small, lightweight, powerful, a long battery life... and the ability to run many iPad apps.
    techconckiltedgreenlolliverlogic2.6FileMakerFellerhydrogenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 58
    hmlongco said:
    From my perspective, the primary reason that iPad sales are down is that once you have an iPad you're good for quite a few years. The things last forever and that's not much a new model can do that an earlier version can not.

    So most people who think they need one, or have a use case for one, already have one and won't need another one for a long, long time.

    I also think the M1/M2 Air has moved into the iPad's space as well. Small, lightweight, powerful, a long battery life... and the ability to run many iPad apps.
    Agreed.  iPads are great and basically maintenance free.  They seem to last forever.  Honestly, of all 3 device categories (iPhone, iPad and Mac), I enjoy the iPad the most.  It's perfect for media consumption and even does well at gaming.  The iPad is a great class of device.  There are those who "get it" and those who don't. 
    kiltedgreenlolliverlogic2.6welshdogFileMakerFellerhydrogenjingodanoxwatto_cobra
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