The WWDC 2019 Keynote happened yesterday. Amongst a plethora of exciting announcements, it was also revealed that the iPad OS will received a lot of meaningful enhancements to enable iPads to be used much more like PCs. Although it is debatable whether iPads will now be full PC replacements for the majority of people in 2019, what is more important is that Apple is fully committed to making this happen and is laying the groundwork for faster improvements by liberating the iPad OS from any restrictions that the association with iPhone may have caused. The iPad OS is free to innovate and pursue the goal of fulfilling its true potential.
Instead of being an entertainment device, there is no question that in the not too distant future, the iPad will evolve to be a fully capable productivity tool. Therefore the next platform war will be PCs vs iPads, and unfortunately neither Android nor Chrome OS is a viable contender yet.
One feature that I think is exceptionally worth mentioning is that iPad Safari will provide a full desktop experience. For the last several years, innovation in productivity tools on PCs happened mostly on web applications. Very few interesting applications were written in platform native code. This means that if iPad Safari truly delivers and is able to run web applications just like a PC, a big chunk of the PC advantage will evaporate within a very short timespan.
A platform war of PCs vs iPads will have a lot of implications that I don’t think have been sufficiently debated. Of course there is the Windows Surface vs iPad aspect, but in reality, the stakes on Microsoft’s side are not particularly strong here. Google is also a stakeholder because if the importance of PCs deteriorates and is replaced by iPads, then they will lose their strategic position as the owner of the dominant browser. The war will also be played in a very different way because it involves an already mature market and will not be a simple Gold Rush land-grab.