The news that a few analysts think the announcement of a new version of Apple’s iPad tablet may cut into sales of PCs has morphed into proclamations that the PC will soon cease to exist. Some analysts say that it will kill the PC. Others maintain that the new iPad will be the only computer businesses will ever need. They are, of course, wrong.
What actually is happening is that Chris Whitmore, an analyst for Deutsche Bank, is suggesting that advances in tablets may cause some softening in sales of traditional PCs. This isn’t the same thing as an end to desktop, laptop and notebook PCs we have worked with for so many years. Far from it.
Whitmore is probably right in the sense that the new iPad, along with other new high-end tablets, will provide functionality that was once limited to PCs. In fact, they will probably supplant some sales of those traditional computers in applications where tablets make sense.
The introduction of an updated iPad has been pretty much a certainty since Apple delivered the fourth-generation tablet a year ago. This year, you’ll see the kind of improvements you’d expect in a new tablet. It will be thinner, have new features such as a fingerprint reader in the home button and better wireless radios. But probably more important, it will have the same A7 processor that’s in the iPhone and it will support 64-bit computing.
When I wrote about the iPhone 5S back in September, I noted that the existence of a 64-bit processor was unlikely to be particularly useful in that device. There are, after all, only so many things you can do in that form factor, even if the processor is really powerful. But the iPad isn’t the same thing as the iPhone. While the two devices are capable of running much of the same software, they frequently perform vastly different functions.
Initially the 64-bit processor, coupled with a 64-bit version of iOS 7, isn’t likely to do much for users of the iPad either. Current tablets will run the same software and the same applications, but ultimately that will change. The enterprise application software, not to mention the content development software that’s coming with broader business acceptance of tablets, will make good use of the chip’s improved performance as well as the access to increased amounts of system memory.
Applications ranging from Photoshop to Microsoft Office will be able to make use of the expanded capabilities of the fifth-generation iPad.