The iPad vs the PC – Don’t buy a Model T in 2010

The personal computer is like the Model T.  Henry Ford was noted as saying:

“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one—and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.” [1]

One could easily make the comparisons that IBM was the Ford of PC hardware manufacturing and Microsoft the Ford of Operating Systems.  The evolution of personal computing devices in the past 20 years has been as dramatic as the past 100 years of automotive evolution (and to some degree the past 15 years they’ve been closely entwined).  But for some reason, we have people arguing today to continue producing Model Ts and not Ford Fusions.

How is that you ask?

Originally Model Ts owners were content to own the vehicles and use them.  Most of them were just happy when the were running and not requiring maintenance or repair.  I liken this to the early IBM PC users in the 80s.  If they could get it to perform as designed, they were quite happy.

After World War II, young gentleman with new ideas and expanded skill sets decided to start modifying the evolved Model T (or Model As)  into unique hot rods.  They pushed it beyond the limits of it’s original capabilities.  The personal computer evolution of the 90s can be likened to this period.  Machines were more stable, parts became cheaper and widely available to the general public so they were able to customize and modify systems on their own.

Is this what you want to drive every day?

Now we make a jump to modern vehicles.  GPS, traction control, lane departure warnings, air conditioning, heated and cooled seats, satellite radio, anti-lock brakes, remote start, keyless entry, I can go on for a while here…  While the Model T didn’t have any of these features, the basics of transportation were met in 1908 and now in 2010.  However I don’t think we’re reached this level of evolution in the personal computing market, until now.

I’m going to invoke the 80/20 rule here (though it’s probably more 95/5) and say that the majority of automobile owners purchase their cars and use them as intended without modification.  Then there is a percentage of users that customize their cars for styling, performance, or function.  So why then do computer companies continue to produce Model T computer systems expecting the end users to do all the modifying and customizations when the Ford Fusion would better fit them?

The iPad is the evolution of personal computing devices.  I know Apple would love to have it be revolutionary, but it’s not that significant of a departure.  The iPhone and iTouch really couldn’t be a replacement for a PC for a general user, they were more like a device that augmented the PC.  They are more like motorcycles and scooters;  fun to have and fun to use but not very good in the snow, can’t haul the camper, and you can’t bring home groceries in them.  The iPad has the potential to be a full replacement device for the user who browses the Internet, does email, and has needs for a few applications.  I does this in a simpler (and so far more secure) manner than a traditional PC.  So the iPad has all those electronics safety and security features that your new car has, and you like them.

Then why do we base on computers on this?

I’m still astonished at the articles I read regarding the iPad (and Apple in other cases) where users complain about the closed systems and how they are against the governance Apple has over the hardware, operating system, and now applications on it’s devices.  I say this evolution is exactly what we should be expecting (and wanting), not arguing against.

For those who say, NO!!! I want to be able to do all these highly complex things.  No problem, there’s an F350 out there for you, it will do all the heavy lifting you need.  For those who want to modify their systems and play games, etc.  No problem for you either, there is a Mustang or Focus for you to buy endless aftermarket parts for.  But for the 80%+ remaining that want a device that works every time they turn they key and has a maintenance scheduled they can live with, there is the Fusion, I mean iPad.


5 thoughts on “The iPad vs the PC – Don’t buy a Model T in 2010

  1. I would like to say, nice webpage. Im not sure if it has been addressed, however when using Firefox I can never get the entire page to load without refreshing alot of times. Could just be my modem. Appreciate your work


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