After using a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro for the last 6 months or so, it is clear to me that the tablet form factor is a feature of a PC and not a separate product. People can belittle Windows 8.x, but the Intel Ultrabook platform is the future instead of the multiple device strategy of Apple. If Apple was still the sort of company it was with Jobs, it would have released a touchscreen Macbook even if it meant it might jeopardize iPad sales. Apple is not that kind of company anymore under Cook.
As iPad tablet sales stagnate, people are starting to realize that tablets are really not displacing PCs in terms of total functionality. Apple may want us to believe we are moving to a post-PC world, but tablets have really not been able to displace the PC or Mac. They have be great additional devices for people to give their kids or have around the house for an accessory. Microsoft is even marketing their Surface Pro 3 as the only tablet that can truly replace their laptop. We’ll have to see how that goes over for the third shot at the Surface. We all see people buy iPads then buy cases with built-in physical keyboards to try and make their tablets act like an underpowered laptop. It’s going to get old for folks. The sell will be tougher and tougher for Apple as people get sick of the churn of software-obsoleted hardware models.
Piling on more and more devices per individual is just not sustainable. People will realize this at some point. Sure, we all see the folks at the local Starbucks with an iPhone, iPad, and laptop all out on the table because they have bought the lie that each device complements the other in some weird way. It doesn’t. It is nice to have your laptop be a tablet with a touchscreen from time to time, but it’s not needed all the time. It’s great to be able to fold the laptop into a tablet for specific uses, but most of the time I use it as a fully-featured laptop with real applications and a built-in physical keyboard when I need it. I still have a thin form-factor and an Intel Core i7 when I want power.
Microsoft actually has a great opportunity here if they can deliver on Windows 9. Windows 8.x is damaged goods at this point from a branding perspective with all the bad press even though it is really quite workable for Ultrabook users like me. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Steve Jobs famously referred to Dropbox as a feature, not a product. I think Apple will see that it will also be their reality as their users realize alternatives to their product mix designed to have them consume more feature-limited products, not fewer, more capable devices.