I still remember the Saturday of April 3, 2010 when I picked up the new iPad at the Apple Store in Brea, CA. There was a line that seemed to go on for blocks. I don’t remember exactly how I was one of the first people in line, especially since I didn’t camp out. In any case, I got the iPad in my hands. April 3, 2010 was a historic day for the tablet.
We had tablet computers in the previous decade, but those all failed. Attempts to put Windows on a small 11-inch or smaller touchscreen led to nothing but failure. People made fun of Apple for putting the mobile iOS system on the iPad, but it ended up becoming a wise choice.
The iPad 2, released one year later, was the most sought-after computing device this decade. Apple Store retail locations had lines every day with people hoping to grab new stock. There were lots of fights, lots of scalpers, etc.
The iPad had a lot of imitators. There was the Galaxy Tab 10.1 from Samsung, a series of Google tablets, and even the hyped but ultimately doomed Blackberry Playbook. However, none were able to break any significant market share.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to the iPad was Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which ran a full version of Windows and came out in early February of 2013. Microsoft advertised it as a tablet that can also be your main laptop. The first and second versions of the Surface Pro were riled with issues, especially battery life. But in June of 2014, the Surface Pro 3 redefined the laptop/tablet industry and ushered in several other similar types of PC tablets from Samsung, Dell, HP, and others.
However, the iPad still succeeded because it was the perfect consumption tablet. While the Surface Pro tried to be the perfect tablet and PC, it was neither. The iPad didn’t need to be a hybrid until the iPad Pro came out in 2015. Then, Apple was claiming that their new device could be both your tablet and computer. Unfortunately, they were wrong; iOS wasn’t and still isn’t robust enough to run a computer. But just don’t tell Apple that.
By the end of the decade, tablet sales were decreasing just as smartphones were increasing in size and could be used in place of a tablet. The iPad is still a hot product, but it doesn’t produce the same fire it did earlier in the decade. Perhaps, when Apple decides to ditch iOS and put macOS on their iPads, the tablet industry will be completely revived. The next few years will be very interesting for the tablet industry.