Is the iPad the future of computing?

Written by Clive Webster

December 31, 2010 | 10:17

Tags: #ipad

Companies: #apple #arm

You’ll need to bear with me on this one, and not just because this idea struck me after a sleepless long-haul flight. Suggesting that the iPad might be the future of computing needs a heck of a lot of explanation, both in defining my terms and moving beyond the iPad’s current incarnation as a mobile device. As such, if I may, I’ll ask you to give me a little bit of time before inviting your comments, whether they're flames or petitions to sanctify Steve Jobs’ turtle-neck sweater.
Here’s the crux of my thought – imagine a PC that doesn’t fail, yet is cool, fun and easy to use. That’s the iPad, but not in its current form. Even my mother would feel much more at home if her computer still had a keyboard and mouse, as these input devices enable a person to be more productive than mere fingers. Similarly, the iPad's screen needs to be larger than 9.7in if the iPad's going to be a useful computer, rather than a frivolous distraction.

[enter]Is the iPad the future of computing? *Is the iPad the future of computing?
Your next PC? Probably not, but it might be everyone else's[/center]

A larger device based on the iPad is what I’m talking about. You might call it an iPad Maxi, or Apple could call it an iPC (hopefully people will be able to tell the difference between a computer and the publishing house). A device that’s as neat as an iMac, cheaper than a conventional PC and as easy to use as the iPad should have a big future.

Such a device wouldn’t just be useful at home; it would also be great for work. IT managers all over the world would love to deploy PCs that can’t crash, or have dodgy software installed on them. After all, you just need to password-protect or remove the App Store, and you’ll have a locked down system. What's more, your employees would thank you for the cool new PC on their desk, rather than feeling as if they're being treated like children, as many workers do feel about their locked-down work PCs.

While there will always be a market for high-performance systems for gaming, media creation and so on, most people don’t need that level of power. What's more, with ARM delivering ever faster CPUs, a larger, desk-bound iPad PC wouldn’t have to be slow, and Apple could release speed increases yearly, as ARM delivers faster designs.

I can imagine Apple being bold enough to deliver such a system, but it wouldn't have to be an Apple-only deal. The likes of Sony, HP or even Asus could make a similar device based on a modified Android (or even Windows Phone 7) OS. Either way, such a PC could potentially initiate a massive swing in power away from Intel, AMD and Microsoft towards ARM, Apple and possibly Google.

Bearing in mind that any ‘iPC’ device wouldn’t be aimed at enthusiast-level bit-tech readers, but rather the other 80 per cent of PC users, do you think a desktop-based iPad-like PC would make sense? If so, just how much influence do you think it might have?
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