Stephen Sinofsky: Did Apple capitulate?

The man who brought us Microsoft Windows, Explorer and Outlook looks at the iPad Pro’s Magic Trackpad and sees the history of computing repeating itself.

From “iPad Pro Gets a Trackpad!“— a 21-part Twitter thread archived on Medium:

Is this the “convergence” everyone has been waiting for? A “2 in 1” or a tablet or a toaster-refrigerator? Did Apple capitulate? Some context on evolution of devices

Hardware evolves just like software but we don’t often see it the same way. We’re used to talking about the cycle [of] software bundling and unbundling, but hardware does the same thing. Every new generation of hardware begins this cycle anew…

With the introduction of a form, the debate immediately begins over whether the new form can take over or whether it is a substitute for the old one.

Tech dialog is rather divisive over these questions (dodged by marketing). “It can never work” or “It will eventually work”.

The first one of these transitions I remember is the introduction of portable computers. Out of the gate, these were way less powerful than “PCs”. The debate over whether a portable can “replace” a “PC” was in full force…

The evolution of new forms almost always follows the surprising pattern of *adding back* all those things from the old form factor.

So all those portables, added more floppies, hard disks, then expansion through ports/docks, and then ultimately CPUs as powerful as desktop…

Then we wake up one day and look at the “new” form and realize it seems to have morphed into the old form, capabilities and all.

All along the way, the new form is editing, innovating, and reimagining how those old things should be expressed in the new one.

So here we are today with an iPad that has a trackpad. Many are chuckling at the capitulation that the iPad was never a real computer and finally Apple admitted it.

Laptop, Apple has invented the laptop.

My take: My next computer will be a MacBook Air, despite Apple’s best marketing efforts. Cue the video:


  1. Fred Stein said:
    Wow. IMHO, Sinofsky misses the point.

    Apple positions the iPad as a super powerful device. They are selling against, in order:
    1) Your older iPad.
    2 The foldable Android phones.
    3 To a degree, windows and surface.

    Folks who love the Mac have many great options, including used Macs.

    March 19, 2020
  2. Grady Campbell said:
    I use a MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro and consider them both useful to me. However, they are not yet feature-equivalent: there are still numerous “small” MacOS features that iPadOS and associated apps lack (or I haven’t found). For example in iPadOS, how to manage encrypted files/folders, how to put a contact into a group, there are still some feature details missing in Pages, not to mention issues with multitasking and spaces, etc. (I can’t remember all I’ve encountered; is anybody aware of a list being kept anywhere of missing features?) I’m just hoping Apple continues to address these differences over time (by adding these features to iPadOS, not by removing them from MacOS or Mac apps).

    March 19, 2020
  3. John Konopka said:
    The new features look good. I can imagine using them some of the time. My mom and wife and her friend will never use the trackpad. And that is fine.

    March 19, 2020
  4. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Sinofsky shouldn’t be so certain that everyone is clamoring for a convergence-funnel of decades of computing into some perfectly-universal computing device.

    Horace Dediu addresses this perfect-paradigm notion in his recent “The Critical Path” podcast:

    In it he circles the facets of input that the iPad Pro now provides that now make it a supreme and uniquely custom computing device. Starting from the top at its introduction:

    1) touch

    2) physical keyboard

    3) camera

    4) voice

    5) pencil

    6) touchpad

    7) LIDAR

    These new input methods should more properly be construed as yet more functional facets added to an initial diamond.

    Maybe a closer-to-perfect paradigm?

    Hardly a haphazard cobbling striving to be some lame dream promise of a decades-old computing past.

    March 21, 2020

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