Fighting over the Market for Computers for Work

Fighting over the Market for Computers for Work

Fighting over the Market for Computers for Work

About three and a half years after Steve Jobs took the stage to announce a new category in the world of computing, something between a laptop and a cellular phone, there were those at that time who saw the netbook as the answer. However, Apple stuck to the view that tablet computers were the real solution, and apparently, they were right.

So, when Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor, this week announced the new iPads, he could laugh at the netbooks and ask, “Does anyone even remember them?” Apple’s two new iPads constitute a statement of intention and an indication of future directions from the company that brought the world tablet computing.

On the hardware front, there are no real innovations. Apart from upgrading the hardware to match that of the iPhone 5S, and better support for wireless internet communications, there are no innovations under the bonnet.

The most significant innovation, however, is the device’s weight. Apple made sure to point out that they have been working on the iPad Air for years, apparently in light of the fact that they have been able to break the 500-gram barrier, and to drop about 200 grams from the weight of the iPad in its 10-inch versions. In pure numeric terms, this seems ridiculous, but for tablet users who have to hold them for an extended period, those missing 200 grams will allow them to hold the device for longer, before their hands get tired, and that’s a major step on the way to transforming the iPad from a content consumption device into a complete product.

Another significant point that should be mentioned is that Apple is fighting the cheap tablets. Among the steps, that it is taking is that it is continuing to sell the iPad 2, a device that is over two years old – in technological terms, a dead man walking. But Apple has what to offer with the iPad 2 – 450 thousand applications adapted to the device, which still offers significant competition to the cheap Android tablets.

On the software front, too, Apple has decided to “go for broke,” and offer the company’s new operating system version for free, and not for the $99 fee that it used to charge till now. In addition, they are offering their productivity and leisure pack, at no cost, to those purchasing their devices – in other words, Apple’s answer to “Office” is now being distributed for free.

While another competitor (i.e., Microsoft) has based, and continues to base, the bulk of its income on the sales of operating systems, this is indeed an interesting move that is expected to influence the market for operating systems, particularly in light of the fact that Google, with its free ChromeOS operating system and its own “Office,” GoogleDocs, are also gathering momentum in among the manufacturers of portable computers.

Apple has apparently managed to annoy Microsoft, which is selling its Surface devices as tablets that can be used for work, with their veteran Office software. Otherwise, how can we explain Microsoft’s reaction, in which they claim that iWork is a “struggling, lightweight” product, “priced as an afterthought.” Incidentally, you should read Microsoft’s response to Apple’s announcement in full – it makes for entertaining reading.

To summarized Apple’s moves: in light of the drop in laptop sales, it seems that we did not know just how much tablets are going change the market.

And now they are on the attack.