Apple co-founder: tablets are PCs for "normal people"

By on April 5, 2011, 10:38 AM
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes that tablets are not for geeks and nerds, but for everyone else. He considers the devices the culmination of what the other co-founder, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, wanted to create at the company from the very beginning. During a keynote session at Storage Networking World in Santa Clara, California, Wozniak was asked how he thought tablets would change the computer industry. Here was his response, according to ComputerWorld:

"The tablet is not necessarily for the people in this room," Wozniak told the audience of enterprise storage engineers. "It's for the normal people in the world. I think Steve Jobs had that intention from the day we started Apple, but it was just hard to get there, because we had to go through a lot of steps where you connected to things, and (eventually) computers grew up to where they could do ... normal consumer appliance things."

I can certainly agree with this perspective. I have never been particularly excited about tablets, at least not personally I understand their importance in the news, but I don't believe such a device would fit any of my own needs. Many of my peers feel the same way, but we're all very aware at how quickly the tablet space is growing, and how much more it is expected to explode.

Last year, the iPad dominated the tablet space but this year there are many more competitors coming, including new and old OEMs pushing Android, RIM with its BlackBerry PlayBook, and the HP TouchPad. Last year, Android passed the iPhone in US market share, and there are predictions that the same will happen in the tablet space.

Wozniak hopes it doesn't. "On the subject of tablets, I read today that Android tablets are expected to surpass iPads, and I hope that never happens," he said. He may end up being very disappointed.




User Comments: 21

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mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Although I'm a CS major I would love a tablet, not for main work but for casual use and I can see how useful they can be for certain tasks.

Android may surpass iPads but that's not the important thing, as long as we have quality products with user experience in mind I will be a very happy person. Although I don't think Android or any other tablet will have an easy path towards gaining market share against the iPad since they will not have the market push that smartphones have through mobile phone companies giving them away with monthly plans, and the ones that do offer mobile plans along with tablets they all also offer the iPad, including Verizon.

And of course there's also the fact that Google have started having and demanding more control of which vendors can run and do with the Android OS since Honeycomb.

Raswan Raswan said:

Wozniak is one of the few Appleians that doesn't go out of his way to say retarded or deliberately hubris-laden things. And good article. I heartily agree (though once a ~$200 tablet comes out, I will probably get it. 2014? sooner? never?).

P.S. "there's predictions" should be "there're predictions"

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I guess normal people don't need to write anything or do anything on their tablets, just consume media.

Lets leave the thinking to a special caste of people.

Considering there is something like a 50% functional illiteracy rate in this country, he may be on to something.

yRaz yRaz said:

gwailo247 said:

I guess normal people don't need to write anything or do anything on their tablets, just consume media.

Lets leave the thinking to a special caste of people.

Considering there is something like a 50% functional illiteracy rate in this country, he may be on to something.

+1

Stuff like tablets just make it easier for stupid people to get dumber. Hardly anyone spends a moment of their day being productive and I guess this is just apple saying the iPad isn't meant for productivity. I don't understand this constant need for entertainment. People would rather be entertained than think.

Guest said:

This is why I do not like Apple. It was never about their hardware its always been the mentality that is behind the products. This whole only with Apple are you "Normal" crap. This just makes me angry beyond all ****. I will gladley stick to my Microsoft piles of escriment, atleast they dont call me nerd or geek or "normal"...

I feel better now.

Guest said:

I really tend to not like apple or jobs but I can't fault the Woz he speaks rarely and it is never to insight but with near perfect clarity. Of course he is the brains while jobs was the PR so ...

Guest said:

No, Wozniak makes a lot of of sense. It's not that "average people" are stupid, they can in fact be quite intelligent and perform demanding work tasks that would make an IT nerd blanch - it's just different work tasks, and they have zero interest in technology as such. For people like that, tablets are just right (or any computers that are hard to break and take them by the hand and guide what they do). No average user needs to have access to the innards of the operating system, for instance - in most cases, the fact that they have that is just a negative. That leads to incidents like where some average user thinks "hmm, I should just organize all these files - I'll put the DLL files in one directory, the exe files in another..." and they're digging around inside the Windows folder at the time.

Computers that are easy to use, hard to break by just using it and that protect users from most malware like the iPad are excellent. I too predict that trend will continue - for good or ill.

yRaz yRaz said:

Guest said:

Computers that are easy to use, hard to break by just using it and that protect users from most malware like the iPad are excellent. I too predict that trend will continue - for good or ill.

How is the iPad harder to break than a normal PC? For one, desktops don't move and you don't carry them around everywhere. YOU WILL drop your ipad(in general, not saying you have one). It is unavoidable. The glass screen with break just as easily as any other touchscreen. I have a feeling that it being bigger might make it easier to break than a "normal" touch screen. I have no proof of that, just a feeling.

Ever since tablets came out we have been asking ourselves what they are used for. Apple pretty much confirmed with this statement that they don't know either. They have no real-world use aside from media consumption.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

This is where most technology people get things wrong, "average people" are not stupid they just don't care about technology like we do. If I develop a piece of software that a normal user finds hard to use I should be called "stupid" and not the user. This has been a long problem when engineers/scientists design stuff for users without taking into account ease of use or security, a lot of airplane accidents during the 70s where caused by poorly placed controllers and I'm sure this still happens on other areas.

And to all of you short sighted people that think you can only type on a computer I assume you've never heard about music, art and movies being created on an iPad, there's also music being mixed on it, photo editing and blogging (yes you can connect a keyboard wirelessly to an iPad). Gorillaz even released a whole album created on an iPad. And all these with tools that haven't been around for more than a year, imaging what can be done when software is more mature and when people start understanding better how people can interact with a tablet.

[link]

Remember that tablets are a new paradigm in computing, forget the old way of doing things.

Whoaman said:

Guest said:

This whole only with Apple are you "Normal" crap.

I think you are taking "normal" here in the wrong sense. Granted Steve could of chosen a better word like "typical".

I think he's more or less spot on in his comments. I so badly want to want a tablet but as a techie who enjoys creating at least as much or more than consuming... well.... these tablets still leave a lot to be desired. They're still mostly a comfort device for media, entertainment and generic communication.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

And to all of you short sighted people that think you can only type on a computer I assume you've never heard about music, art and movies being created on an iPad, there's also music being mixed on it, photo editing and blogging (yes you can connect a keyboard wirelessly to an iPad). Gorillaz even released a whole album created on an iPad. And all these with tools that haven't been around for more than a year, imaging what can be done when software is more mature and when people start understanding better how people can interact with a tablet..

And how many of those people did it on an iPad just for the sake of doing it on an iPad? The point is not what CAN be done on an iPad, but if the iPad is the best device for a given task. Not sure how much work you've done with graphics or media processing, but I can guarantee you that a real computer handles those tasks much better than an iPad.

A tablet is primarily a media consumption device. People have turned Kinect into a whole bunch of things, but it primarily is still a game control device.

A tablet is a portable monitor with a computer attached. Its a paradigm shift for people who grew up with laptops and take them for granted. In five years there will be another technology.

Its not being short sighted, its called being around for a few years. When I was in 7th grade I went to a museum which had touch screen technology. That was 1988.

Cota Cota said:

I so agree, in the time i had worked fixing up PC's i had met a ton of people that would do super whit an atom CPU no videocard (integrated only) and 2Gigs of ram, since they only need more storage capacity and a defrag software that does it automaticly, oh! and not have Norton :P.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

gwailo247 said:

I guess normal people don't need to write anything or do anything on their tablets, just consume media.

mmmm, in my case, i'll have to disagree. The tablet has made my (and my librarians life) SO much easier. I'm a choir director and my tablet does wonders for me and her. We no longer have to cart the laptop over to the book shelf or waste paper printing out the list. We just carry the little tablet with us to the shelves, open up the inventory file, and there's all of the information we need. How many copies of a certain song there are, when a song was last used, what scriptures the song coincides with, is it a regular anthem or something to be used in a special cantata, etc etc. All this in our hand, but on a device that's big enough not to have to squint to see the info (i.e., on a smart phone).

In a store I used to work at in the mall, the manager walks around with a tablet to keep track of inventory once a week, and has it in his hand as soon as a new shipment of stuff comes in.

So as you can see, tablets can be extremely useful in the work place. Small enough to comfortably carry, but big enough to see the information without having to look at very small text. People just don't realize how helpful they can be. They don't realize the other uses for a tablet.

The great thing about the tablet I have is that it has a HDMI port on it. So if I need something on a bigger screen, just hook it up to a monitor, turn on my wireless mouse and keyboard, and off I go. Or if I need to sync information to my computer, just hook them up and do what I need to do.

Guest said:

I use my "tablet" (Dell 5" Streak) when I'm sitting around watching tv or something and need to look something up, without having to go to the "computer room". Or, once in a while if I need to check my business website, I can look it up on the streak, instead of going back to the car for the laptop.

It's a handy tool because the older I get, the lazier I get LOL.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

@ matrix86

but neither you, nor your librarian nor the store manager are creating content on the device. you're displaying content. you're using it as I said, as a portable monitor.

a tablet is a great adjunct to a normal computer, but so far they're not the best thing to create content on, just consuming it.

and we are talking about computers for normal people, so I'm assuming this refers to home use.

so what I'm reading Woz's words as, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that a "normal" person would only need a tablet, not a desktop PC in their home. (Says the man whose company still practically has the same desktop share it had 3 decades ago. Of course HE thinks desktops suck.)

Guest said:

i think woz thinks he and other nerds are not normal haha

Guest said:

"... In five years there will be another technology. ... Its not being short sighted, its called being around for a few years. When I was in 7th grade I went to a museum which had touch screen technology. That was 1988."

Oh, isn't that mutually exclusive? You're saying that in five years the tablets will be gone again, yet you say that touch screen tech has been around for 23 years. Why would proven technology that has just matured enough to be user-friendly (starting with smartphones) be gone again in a few years? Once the market has adjusted to a new product and starts using it, it will become much more of a standard instead of being replaced with something new. Smartphones will probably be with us for a while too, and they are based on the same technology.

As for people claiming that the iPad is "primarily for consumption" and not for productivity, the above link is great evidence for the opposite. As a matter of fact, many people don't really know WHAT you can do with an iPad at first. It's just a computer that needs the right software, like any other computer. I myself didn't know what the iPad could do and I didn't care about the first iPad either, being very experienced with computers. But with the release of the iPad 2 I've decided to get one and even sell my laptop in turn.

I wondered what my iPad could do for me, and just a little bit of research turned up a few very interesting apps that allow me to do so many productive things like photo editing, writing, sketching, recording and mixing on the fly, video editing, scheduling and whatnot; all of these being things that I found difficult to do on the go with the laptop. I'm just going to be so much more *mobile* with the iPad compared to hauling a laptop around (and it's a 13", so it's not really big, but that doesn't make it easier).

The most creative use I saw out of an iPad was when I had a gig recently and the mixing engineer carried an iPad to the stage, checking monitoring levels and remote-controlling the mixer from the tablet using a mixing app. That was ingenious!

And why is a "real" computer better for photo editing than a tablet? Does it matter whether I use the mouse, my fingers or a stylus for input? Isn't it even easier to draw masks and arrange layers on a touch screen? Sure it's different and you need practice with it, but you can't tell me using a trackpad on a laptop is much different from touching the screen (and when being on the go, most people have to use their laptop's trackpad instead of a mouse).

matrix86 matrix86 said:

@ gwailo247

I understand what you meant, now. Indeed, the normal user doesn't write anything on the tablet. I do still stand by my comments about how you can do more than "just consume media", but I see what you meant. You can't really write anything on a tablet in the same way you could on a PC (you can, just not to the same extent) but indeed, the "normal" user only uses tablets for media anyway. That's the same for the "normal" PC user. "Normal" people typically watch movies, browse the web, and check email.

I do agree with something another user said..."normal" should have been replaced with "typical".

Guest said:

Another Yank completely out of touch with reality.

DokkRokken said:

I'm sure the people decrying the iPad for being a mere consumption tool, were using their PC's for totally useful, productive tasks like crunching budgets or doing mapping for their country's geological surveys. Right? Riiight?

You guys were just taking a thirty second break from your super important tasks to read TechSpot, and comment on this article. Yep, no idle consumption going on here.

Actually, I used an iPad for mapping and tracing wiring diagrams for two motorcycles recently. It made my task far easier, not to mention saving myself time, which translates to my client paying less money, and riding away happy. So no, it's not just for consumption. Maybe the 'holier than thou' crowd ought to realize that they aren't all that smart themselves.

Guest said:

Tablets aren't for normal people, their for stupid people.

Oh wait maybe they are for normal people?

Imagine a real laptop, with real computing performance, a real OS, the CD drive and screen removed and the key board replaced with a touch screen

If your think that's the description for a tablet then your in the market they target

Tablets run apps (because people that use tablets struggle with big words like application)

PC/Laptops run programs (because they can)

Apps are designed to make money

Programs are designed to be a useful tools and make things easier

Tablets need to be hacked to gain root access

PC/Laptops work properly out of the box

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