When the MacBook Air “relaunched” in 2010, I immediately thought that it was the absolute best computer that any general computer user could buy. It was priced right, fast enough, light enough, had great battery life — and so on — it blew everything else out of the water.
More importantly it came with an SSD standard. For most users that SSD will be the single greatest speed boost they have ever seen when upgrading from one computer to another.
It seemed to me that the 2010 MacBook Air (and it’s subsequent upgrades) was the computer that 95% of all computer users should buy — not just Mac users.
I haven’t thought much about this until the never-ending debate over whether an iPad is a PC overtook my RSS reader (again) this past week. I have nothing further to comment on that debate other than to say that iPads can, and are, certainly being used in place of PCs.1
If I, and many others, believe that the iPad is actually a PC — then does my theory that the MacBook Air is the best PC that people can buy still hold true today?
That is: is the iPad a better PC for most people than a MacBook Air?
That was interesting enough to me that I started to write this post, but then something else occurred to me. If the iPad is better for most people than a MacBook Air, then is an iPhone better for most people than an iPad and thus a MacBook Air?
It’s a topic that Shawn and I discussed on the last episode of our podcast, but one that I think warrants further thought.
It’s easy2 to see why one would argue that the iPad could be better suited for most people than a MacBook Air, but a cellphone? That seems like a stretch, right?
More with Less?
I am not arguing that everyone goes out a buys iPhones and ditches all other computers. That’s short sighted.
I do however think that the iPhone can do more than an iPad while being far more convenient. Thus if you think buying an iPad instead of a PC is a good idea, then perhaps buying an iPhone instead of either would be an even better idea.
I don’t have a strong argument that the iPhone is a better computer than a MacBook Air — because it’s not. But I do think that it is by far my (a many other peoples) most used computer.
So my question now becomes: if I use my iPhone more than my iPad, and more than my MacBook Air — is my iPhone the best computer I have?
I think the answer is a resounding: yes.
Not only that, but I think that any one of my iPhones (certainly the 4S) is the best computer I have ever owned. Yet, while that is most certainly a true statement, I wouldn’t dare ditch my iPad or MacBook Air.
Niche Computer Era
The simple fact is that we now have two types of computing devices: general purpose and niche. All of these devices are “personal computers” it just so happens that not all of them a general purpose personal computers.3
My MacBook Air and everything with a “Mac” label are general purpose computers. However things like my iPhone, iPad, and the Nest are all niche computers.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing a niche computer over a general purpose computer — just so long as you can do what you need and want to do with the computer. If all I need a computer for is to control the temperature in my house, then the Nest makes far more sense than a Mac Pro.
So to get back to my original question: If the iPad is better for most people than a MacBook Air, then is an iPhone better for most people than an iPad and thus a MacBook Air?
The iPhone is probably not better for most, but certainly better for some.4 I would even argue that as time progress the amount of people that the iPhone is a better computer for is actually increasing, not decreasing.
For me the iPhone has done far more to reduce my need of a MacBook Air type computer than the iPad has ever done.5
Personally I think it is foolish to think of the iPad as anything but a PC. The more interesting debate to me is whether iPhones and Android phones are PCs. ↩
Because people are already doing it. ↩
I guess I did end up weighing in on the debate. ↩
Where the term “some” doesn’t necessarily amount to a small percentage of people. I believe this group is rapidly growing. ↩
And I love my iPad. ↩