Steve Jobs Was Right. Tablets Are Cars. PCs Are Trucks.

Notebook_vs_Tablet_130103Apple CEO Steve Jobs often compared the transition from desktop/laptop PCs to tablets with the transition from trucks to cars. Just as trucks waned in popularity with the urbanization of America, Jobs theorized, so, too, would desktops and laptops with the advent of the tablet.

“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that’s what you needed on the farm,” Jobs said at our D8 conference in 2010. “But as vehicles started to be used in the urban centers, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn’t care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars. … PCs are going to be like trucks. They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.”

At the time that remark was a bit contentious, but like many Jobs predictions, it would prove prescient a few years later. To wit, the latest PC shipment forecast from NPD DisplaySearch, which predicts that tablets will outship notebooks this year.

DisplaySearch_WW_Tablet_PC_Shipment_Share_Forecast_by_Screen_Size_130103

The research outfit reckons 207 million notebooks to be shipped in 2013. And it expects tablet shipments to rise 64 percent year over year to top out at 240 million.

And that’s just the beginning of a trend that will slowly see the notebook PC supplanted by the tablet. By 2017, NPD figures, tablets will have captured nearly 75 percent of the combined global tablet-laptop market, spurred on by new screen sizes that are fueling consumer interest in the device.

Indeed, according to NPD the seven-inch to eight-inch screen — like the ones in Google’s Nexus 7 and Apple’s new iPad mini, for example — is already so popular that it has become the preferred tablet display size. In 2013, the research firm expects it to account for 45 percent of the market, surpassing the 9.7-inch size pioneered by the original iPad, which will account for about 17 percent.

“The 7.9-inch size is expected to be the screen size leader in share starting in 2013 because it appeals to supply and demand factors,” NPD DisplaySearch’s Richard Shim told AllThingsD. “From a supply perspective, it will be readily available, meaning it shouldn’t face any technical issues to limit its production. And from a demand perspective, since it is used in the lower priced end of the iPad portfolio, it will appeal to a wider segment of the mainstream market than the more expensive larger sized iPads.”

But the broader market numbers are what’s of real interest here. The consumer tablet market isn’t even three years old yet, but it’s already poised to surpass the market for laptops. And by such a significant amount — nearly 16 percent. Jobs said the day would come when only one out of every few people would need a traditional computer. Hard to believe it’s arriving so quickly.

58 comments
Duane Urban
Duane Urban

The whole point being missed here is when prices go down the sizes will go up. The vast majority of teenage smartphone users only use the texting part and maybe a rare call. As for the tabs the parents get... it's usually the 10 year old in the family playing the circa 1980 type game. When PDA's first came out they sold quite a bit but then they died out as people realized that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
As prices drop you'll see tabs getting larger with more stuff added to them. Tiny screens will lead to eye strain and touch screens will lead to carpel tunnel. It will take a while for people to realize it naturally. Tablets will end up looking like laptops.
Take laptops in the office for instance. I have yet to see one that don't have a docking station, with a full-size keyboard and a regular mouse plus large dual screen monitors.
Please don't forget that we are still in a recession with money tight so sales figures for PC's and Laptops would be down even without smartphone and tablets.

Khaled Mourad
Khaled Mourad

Ultralight Ultrabook-Convertible is one vehicle that do both Tablet+PC,

so soon affordable & one for all

no need for 10" as 7" more handy

so Ultrabooks & cheap 7" tablet to grow

ERYREB
ERYREB

This article doesn't pass some basic credibility issues. Specifically this comment:

“The 7.9-inch size is expected to be the screen size leader in share starting in 2013 because it appeals to supply and demand factors,” NPD DisplaySearch’s Richard Shim toldAllThingsD. “From a supply perspective, it will be readily available, meaning it shouldn’t face any technical issues to limit its production. And from a demand perspective, since it is used in the lower priced end of the iPad portfolio, it will appeal to a wider segment of the mainstream market than the more expensive larger sized iPads.”

I suggest that Mr. Shim start taking a better look at market trends and not current sales. There is no doubt that the iPad mini is selling very well, however, the trend is a further gain of market share by the behemoth that is Android, and I don't see any other manufactures making a 7.9 inch tablet. In case some of you haven't used the iPad mini AND a standard 7 inch tablet, there's are at least a couple of good reasons why:

1. It's very difficult to hold a 7.9 inch tablet comfortably with one hand with your hand wrapped around both sides, something that most women (and men) can do with a 7 inch tablet. For this reason, a 7 inch tablet is generally a much better book reader. Typing with one finger while holding the tablet with the other hand is also much easier on a 7 inch tablet.

2. Movies are 16:9 aspect ratio. The iPad mini is 4:3 and is therefore the exact wrong size for movie viewing. A standard 7 inch tablet is typically around a 16:9 aspect ratio and is a much better device for viewing movies.

There's only one reason that a tablet made with such an awkward size is popular, because Apple is selling it. Even Apple can't change people's finger lengths and force everyone back to 4:3 movies though.

Andy Montgomery
Andy Montgomery

When the tablets become more powerful in terms of RAM, processors and memory then I think we'll see a fast shift from PC users to tablets. As a musician and user of processor intensive music programs - there are no tablets ready for the job. In terms of multimedia editing - photoshop etc....We need power. So, for now, we'll be glued to our desks until the time comes!

fring
fring

Re the chart...who is selling and buying all those 10.1" tablets? Will they really sell more than the 9.7" iPad this year? Or are we just talking screens sold here?

Michael Eldridge
Michael Eldridge

Strange as this morning i was reviewing information that i had saved to a floppy disk over 7 years ago. Records of auto repairs , articles from a church, and other use full information and all right at my fingertips no need to be on cloud or even the net thank you

Da Ge
Da Ge

tablets are a fad - cumbersome to hold, not mobile at all. My Windows PC and Android phone work great together.

skellener
skellener

Well bring on the freakin' TRUCKS Apple!!! ;)

Stacy Hunt
Stacy Hunt

Funny that in the US its the price of gas that has brought cars to an equal footing with trucks not urbanization. It's neck and neck now year to year for which sells more car or light truck - if you add in heavier trucks it's trucks that sell the most - So did
steve become "right" with a totally false analogy/. The computer of choice seems to be a smartphone.

khaled mourad
khaled mourad

Current Tablet is for Consuming

While PC for both Consuming & Productivity

So Smart Consumer will buy the new Form Factor PC-Tablet, which is the coming affordable Convertible-Ultrabooks which is a PC and with all Tablet Pros

Tablets will be very Cheap like $150, many will be sold but no money made for Vendors

Why anyone buy in the future a $400+ Tablet?

Current screen tablets will the next Netbooks and will be squished by 5-6" Smartphones & Touchscreen Ultra Convertible-Ultrabooks

Darin Brown
Darin Brown

how many of the 7.9 inch tablets will have a keyboard?
isn;t that really just a small laptop?

ChKen
ChKen

"Indeed, according to NPD the seven-inch to eight-inch screen — like the ones in Google Nexus 7 and Apple’s new iPad mini, for example — is already so popular that it’s become the preferred tablet display size. In 2013, the research firm expects it to account for 45 percent of the market, surpassing the 9.7-inch size pioneered by the original iPad, which will account for about 17 percent."

Incorrect. You have lumped all tablets between 7.0" and 7.9" together. That's a spread of 0.9". As Apple showed in their keynote for the iPad Mini, the 7.0" wide format tablets are nothing like the 7.9" Mini, because the useful area is so much different.

Even, if you used a 0.9" spread with the rest of the table, you'd find that the 9.7" to 10.6" group, is also about 45% in 2013.

observer1959
observer1959

I remember reading an article that said when the iPad mini came out everyone was comparing it to the Nexus 7 when it should be compared to the larger tablets for this very reason. Those screen size numbers are very deceiving.

dorkus_maximus
dorkus_maximus

If cars replaced trucks because of urbanization, tablets don't replace PCs because of tablets. What is the "urbanization" event that now makes tablets more attractive than laptops and desktop PCs?

Sebastian Schmid
Sebastian Schmid

Actually the "urbanization" event has already happened. It is many things: Like the daily commute to work. Before Smartphone/Tablets there simply wasn't a convenient way to do online work on the go in cramped spaces. For consumption I would say it is easier to sit in an armchair/on a sofa using a tablet than using a netbook/laptop. The use case has always been there. The technology was missing. Btw. the use case for cars was there even during the truck days. Industrialization happened way before the truck was invented. A car was simply too expensive for most people back then.

SheasSuas
SheasSuas

Consumption versus productivity - plain and simple.

FalKirk
FalKirk

"Consumption versus productivity - plain and simple." - SheasSuas

Simple? Yes. Accurate? No.

Don't make the mistake of defining the productivity of others using your standards only. Tens of millions of people are being productive on their tablets even if their definition of productivity differs from yours.

SheasSuas
SheasSuas

I stand corrected FalKirk! - more like consumption versus production. I still haven't come across a way to produce meaningful content on a mobile device since I am tied to my keyboard for that.

DigiRAW.com
DigiRAW.com

If tablets are cars.... which one is the Rolls Royce, the Ferrari and the MPV (and so on).

ChKen
ChKen

The Qualcomm tablet is the Rolls! (see CES keynote for context)

Richard Liu
Richard Liu

And the Lenovo's tablet must be the extended hummer limo with 7 ft. tall driver.

EnticingHavoc
EnticingHavoc

The aricle left out an important fact.
HW is ever progressing and therefore becoming more powerful year after year. This means that in 2 years from now an average pad will have the computing power of an actual laptop.
Therefore it makes no difference at all if you buy a laptop or a pad. It's only the way of interacting that makes the difference.
Surface Pro is in theory the culmination of that idea. A laptop that looks like a pad (actually is a pad).
The only thing missing on iPad and Android pads is some serious productivity software that is on par with MS Office.

Speaking in terms of automobiles I'd say Apple has found a way of making a truck look like a sports car. But at the end it's still a truck (in a positive sense).

Dick Applebaum
Dick Applebaum

I think you are missing a big something... Users in emerging [technology] countries.

These users, may have a dumb phone and, likely, no computer at all in the home.

As the technology evolves in these countries, most users/homes will have the choice of buying a smart phone, a phablet, a tablet, or a desktop/laptop pc.

Most of us have all these devices -- and use whatever is appropriate for the job at hand:
• video editing (and the like) on the powerful, large multiscreen desktop PC
* word processing, spreadsheets on the laptop PC
• surfing, reading, consuming AV on a tablet
• texting, calling, navigating on a smart phone

Each of these jobs can be done, to a more more lesser degree, on all the devices (above) -- after all, they are all PCs.

We all have our own stories and usage patterns. For me:
• heavy lifting is done on a loaded iMac 27" with a second display and 2 12-TB RAIDS.
• I don't use my laptop anymore -- it's too clumsy and inconvenient.
• I use my iPad everywhere -- next to my iMac, out and about, on the couch in front of the TV, in bed, instead of the TV...
• I don't use my iPhone much anymore -- except for making/receiving a few text or voice calls

I don't have a personal iPad Mini, but I bought one for my daughter -- thinking of getting one for myself.

When I am out and about, I usually take my iPad 4 and my iPhone 5. Mostly I use the iPad. I wish I could just replace both with an iPad Mini -- that would be the best mobile solution for me -- even though I can afford/have all the toys, I would choose the iPad Mini if I could choose only one device.

Now, back to the premise of the needs of Users in emerging [technology] countries.

I posted this in another forum:

Two things:

1) Add whatever it takes to make the iPad Mini a viable alternative to a cell phone -- BT earphone/mic and hold to ear in a pinch.

2) Office Apps... Legacy PC Apps... Emerging countries don't need no stinkin' Legacy PC Apps!

The iPad Mini is just about the perfect vehicle to satisfy the mobile computing/communication needs for most of the people of the world...

There, I've said it!
-------------------------------

Edit: My point in all this is that there are hundreds of millions of people who will choose and experience their first computer in the next several years... And I don't think it will be a desktop or laptop -- they have no need for that complexity.

FalKirk
FalKirk

"... in 2 years from now an average pad will have the computing power of an actual laptop. Therefore it makes no difference at all if you buy a laptop or a pad." - EnticingHavoc

Only a person who doesn't use a tablet could say such a thing. It is not the PROCESSING POWER that distinguishes a tablet from a laptop, it is the form factor. The notebook was made to be used on a surface. The tablet was made to be held, touche and used on the move. They are fundamentally different tools that do fundamentally different tasks.

skruis
skruis

One could only agree with your statement if they also agree that there's a single ideal usage of a particular form factor whereas the suggestion was the ideal usage of any particular device of any form factor was subject to the software it runs and the intended usage.

skruis
skruis

"Jobs said the day would come when only one out of every few people would need a traditional computer. Hard to believe it’s arriving so quickly."

But that's not exactly what's happened and the sales figures don't tell the whole story. If your PC is the truck and your tablet is the car, Jobs prediction is a bit inaccurate because what's happening is that everyone already has a truck, they maintain it and use it, but now a large portion of those truck owners also want a car.

So the whole car replacing truck thing in the computing world hasn't happened yet...at the rate you're implying. If anything, his explanation about how tablets will supplement PC usage and help to shift data storage from the local PC to the cloud thereby decentralizing the role of the PC in your digital life was far more accurate. This truck car description was just marketing fodder.

Sebastian Schmid
Sebastian Schmid

Look at it this way. Back when all the cars were trucks, most people did not even have cars. I would guess that in todays world truck producers sell even more trucks than back in the times. Still, cars (including SUVs and all form factors) are sold way more often. So the PC will be sold less than the tablet, but not necessarily less than today. When you look at a family of four. In the future they may have two PCs just like today. But everybody will probably have his/her own tablet.

RichardMitnick
RichardMitnick

Interesting, since the Ford F150 pick-up is and has been the single best selling vehicle in the U.S.

His Shadow
His Shadow

No one should be allowed to use analogies ever, given the inability of most people to understand how analogies are used.

apppletini
apppletini

Some people are way too literal. How many uncultured comments have we read that misinterpreted that Picasso quote? They really think that someone stole something! How uneducated, how sad!

FalKirk
FalKirk

Misstatement of analogy. A single truck may outsell many other vehicles but cars far outsell trucks which was the point of Steve Job's original analogy.

Joy
Joy

You seem to have a lot of problems with analogies. Perhaps you should stop trying to use or analyze them.

jsk2
jsk2

Actually, that wasn't the point of his analogy. It was that trucks came first and that cars replaced the use of trucks as time went on.

Too bad the analogy is pure fantasy. Cars came first (they first became commercially available in the 19th century and were motorized wagons that could haul two people at best, short distances). Farmers didn't start with trucks, they started with tractors. Trucks came much later (their wide spread use didn't happen until well after WWI), replaced the use of heavy wagons and trains (it took a long time for engine technology allow the hauling of anything over a cubic yard), and have had an ever increasing use by the public.

skruis
skruis

A good example would be that the iPhone outsells any individual Android device but that the Android phone platform outsells iPhone overall.

Wade
Wade

Every ten years or so someone predicts "the death" of the PC, and yet we still have them. PC's are not going anywhere, and at the end of the day you can find just as many turcks/SUVs in suburbia as you will in rural America. Features like all wheel drive and raw horsepower will always have a market because of the American mindset of "I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it." The same will be true of PCs vs tablets for the foreseeable future.

As far as Steve Jobs predictions, he also said the 7" touch screen would never gain traction citing thumb placement and media consumption as limitations that size just can't overcome- and yet that has become the preferred size, with neither of those issues actually being validated concerns among consumers. Jobsian's will always find a way to rewrite history to make this guy look more innovative that he truly was. Like Edison, he was a damn fine salesman who surrounded himself with innovators and was credited by association. He is a visionary in terms of marketing and sales, nothing more.

Apple's point of difference is their position in the market as a premium brand. With Jobs no longer there, Apple is looking at devaluing their flagship product with rumors of a $99 iPhone built with cheaper materials and lower build quality. When Jobs was forced out of Apple the first time around, the company fell from grace with a speed unprecedented in the the tech world; upon his return it took nearly 5 years to pull the company back from the brink and 10 years to actually become the Apple we know today. He has been gone just over a year now and Apple is already looking to repeat the mistakes of the past- taking this premium brand he has rebuilt back to the bargain basement once again.

Richard Liu
Richard Liu

Nonsense. You're no better then the ones who screamed "computer is dying" in the era when the growth of mainframe shrinking and XT/AT eating the market.

PC is not dying. PC is evolving. To the form that will better fit the creator / consumer market division. Tablet is only a form of PCs. Get used to it.

His Shadow
His Shadow

Every ten years or so someone predicts "the death" of the PC

Like whom? Find us these predictions, because when one is attempting to discredit a prediction, one doesn't get to make up claims from which to make further unwarranted claims regarding said prediction.

Apple is looking at devaluing their flagship product with rumors of a $99 iPhone

So Apple is >declativie< based on >unverified rumor<. Nice try, but the "cheap iPhone/iPhone nano/iPod Phone" has been a fever dream of analysts for 4 years and it's never happened. What DID happen was that the previous models continued to be sold at lower price points.

built with cheaper materials and lower build quality

Looking dumber by the minute...

Apple is already looking to repeat the mistakes of the past-

That's quite a castle you've constructed. Too bad you didn't mix a little concrete with that sand.

apppletini
apppletini

"As far as Steve Jobs predictions, he also said the 7" touch screen would never gain traction citing thumb placement and media consumption as limitations that size just can't overcome- and yet that has become the preferred size, "

When has 7" tablets become the preferred size? The majority of tablets sold before iPad mini was the iPad. Among the smaller sizes, it's the 8" iPad mini that's taken the world by storm. At 8", iPad mini has 50%-65% extra viewing area than 7" tablets. Get your facts straight.

And the tirade based on a $99 iPhone rumor is absurd. I suggest you stick with facts and not others' speculations and your own misguided assumptions.

FalKirk
FalKirk

"Every ten years or so someone predicts "the death" of the PC, and yet we still have them."

We still have land line phones too, but they're become less numerous and less important every day.

Joy
Joy

Obviously you don't work with a company that cares about the quality (and privacy) of calls. Landlines are still very much in use and will continue to be used as long as the companies who control mobiles do such a poor job in vast swaths of the United States. People who live in major metro areas forget that there are lots of us who don't live on top of each other.

Joy
Joy

Um, exactly. I took your analogy and used it in a different way. That is the way that I see the use of PCs as well. People who care about quality and security will continue to use them. There are many tasks that will continue to require desktops for a variety of reasons, location is one of them.

Did I *really* need to spell that out? Wow. Stunned.

FalKirk
FalKirk

It was an analogy, not a 1 for 1 comparison. I was talking about how landline are sinking both in numbers and significance. If you want to argue that point, then argue with the facts, not with me.

Joy
Joy

Perhaps you should read the rest of the paragraph. You might see the connection.

FalKirk
FalKirk

"Obviously you don't work with a company that cares about the quality (and privacy) of calls. "

Obviously, you missed the point I was trying to make..

Tou Karl
Tou Karl

The biggest problem I have with most folks is the thinking that in order for tablet to succeed the pc has to lose. I think only fanboy thinks that way, because they will both co-exist for a while at least. Let's take my family (family of 3) as an example we went from 1 desktop and two laptops 3 years ago to 1 laptop and 2 tablets now. We can go weeks without touching the laptop and I am the one who uses, most often to help manage our local home server for our centralize photos, videos and other media files. The pc will always be around, although I suspect the number of pc's sold each year will slowly turn negative year after year. A lot of people just can't yet accept that pc's (laptop/desktop) is no longer a growing market, that's what IBM realized a few years ago and HP came to grip with it that reality 12-18 months ago and tried to abandoned that business but quickly had an about face once they realize it would have a negative effect on the other part of their business. Tablets will be the dominant form factor simple because most of us don't need a pc to do what we need on a daily basis, my wife who is a nurse is a prime example of the average user, she has not touch her laptop in seven months.

Kent Adams
Kent Adams

Has anyone with any credibility predicted the death of the PC? I can't remember such a person or quote.

Wade
Wade

Do a quick Google search on Death of the PC- just about every 6 months there will be a news story that says the PC is now dead because of the latest mobile device, typically following some Apple announcement. Now I can't say any of those articles are credible because obviously, they have all been wrong.

Dobby
Dobby

Content creators will always use PCs. But the masses are mostly content consumers. A tablet or smart phone is good enough for that. Microsoft and Intel should be scared.

zato
zato

"Content creators will always use PCs. But the masses are mostly content consumers. A tablet or smart phone is good enough for that."

There is no need to divide the world. There is already enough division. We will ALL use whatever tool will enable us to do what we want. Tablets are still "beta". They will become much more capable, and will mostly replace desktops, even in enterprise.

Jeff
Jeff

I'd clarify by saying that tablet application creators, aka developers, will (probably) always use a pc. A lot of content these days is created by the consumer, in the form of comments or messages. I've yet to hear of an adequate development environment on a tablet, though.

Jurassic
Jurassic

It is really amazing to consider that the first iPad went on sale less than 3 years ago... and that this year more than half of all mobile PCs sold will be multi-touch tablets (which are mostly iPads).

There hasn't previously been a new technology product category that has grown this quickly

apppletini
apppletini

"Content creators will always use PCs"

False. It's both. Content creators use PCs as well as tablets, it depends on the nature of the project. Most musicians have migrated over to the iPad. In fact some things are better done on a tablet.

You need to realize there is a world of difference in ecosystems. That statement would be true for Android tablets, or Windows tablets, or the defunct Blackberry Playbook, because those platforms lack optimized tablet apps of any kind. (Office on the Surface isn't a draw not because of lack of productivity, but probably a misconceived piece of software for a touchscreen environment.)

However there is a wealth of productivity apps for iOS. If you don't know that means you've either never owned/used an iPad, and/or you have zero knowledge of the kind of productivity iPad apps that have been available since day one. In either case, you really should avoid making (or repeating) blanket statements like that.

Guest
Guest

I am not sure that most musicians will have migrated to the iPad. They may use one as there are many very useful apps for them but more likely as an adjunct to a Mac/PC in the studio rather than a replacement. People have done proof of concept albums on iPads but they barely proved it.

Yacko
Yacko

Actually I think Sony, Dell and HP have more to lose.

FalKirk
FalKirk

"Content creators will always use PCs." - Dobby

False dichotomy. There's lot's of content creation going on in tablets too. But that's irrelevant. The question should be, which tool is right for the job, not which tool does or does not meet the antiquated expectations of how one formerly defined what a computer was and what a computer could do.

Stop comparing the tablet to the PC and start comparing it to the job it is being asked to do. If you do that, silly distinctions like content creation and consumption simply fall away.

McAuliff
McAuliff

Your point is a good one. But Jobs' point can be expanded or viewed as a spectrum. Between trucks and cars, we've got pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. Like you said, whatever tool is right for the job.

zato
zato

Tablets will gain in power and screen size, so that they will eventually become desktop computers. They are all computers. The form factor will innovate, become more energy efficient, more reliable, fewer moving parts, etc. Software will get cheaper, i.e. apps. This is what people and businesses want, so the market will follow.

McAuliff
McAuliff

Funny, the first time I read your comment I interpreted "content" as "satisfied." Then I realized you meant "information" but I think it works both ways in this paragraph.

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