“Why would you buy a PC anymore? No really, why would you buy one?” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in a recent interview with The Telegraph.
He went on to argue that Apple’s new large-screen tablet computer, the iPad Pro, is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many people.
“They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.”
Cook’s comments were roundly criticised – and rightly so.
While he may be a proponent of the idea that we’re living in a “post-PC era”, the fact is that there are many good reasons someone will prefer a PC over an iPad.
First and foremost, consider the price you pay for the hardware and platform you get.
At $799 for the 32GB Wi-Fi version, even the iPad Pro’s cheapest version is expensive. At R14.30 per USD, that comes to around R11,425, excluding VAT.
Even if we ignore sales taxes and duties, at that price you can get a decent laptop computer with an Intel i5 or equivalent processor, 4 to 8GB of RAM, 1TB of mechanical storage, and a basic discrete graphics card.
Apps / open ecosystem
There is also something to be said for the differences in software on PCs and mobile devices.
In addition to some apps only being available on certain platforms, certain applications run better on a specific kind of device.
When I’ve got a large, multi-tab spreadsheet open along with 15 tabs in my web browser, my e-mail client, and multiple instant messaging clients that I’m constantly switching between, give me a PC any day.
The price tag on iDevices also includes your free entry into Apple’s walled garden. While this affords you a level of security, it also means asking “Mother, may I” whenever you want to run anything on your device.
Open architecture – upgradability and repairability
Buying an iPad, or any tablet PC for that matter, also trades open architecture against features such as size, weight, and battery life.
This means you won’t be able to upgrade or replace broken components.
PCs also offer standard connectors such as USB and HDMI, whereas an iDevice requires that you buy Apple-sanctioned adaptors to connect it to external drives and screens.
What do you need from your general-purpose computing device?
Tablet PCs offer good performance with hardware that sips at the battery so it can go for hours without charging.
Those who need a rigid frame when there isn’t a convenient surface to put their mobile computer on may decide an iPad is not the best option for them, though.
Why would you buy a PC anymore?
In short: because mobile devices and operating systems still don’t offer everything everyone needs from a general-purpose computing device, and maybe they never will.
Maybe they don’t need to, either.
The PC as we know it might be in decline, but it will continue to evolve as devices such as smartphones and tablets overtake it as the mainstream personal computer.