Apple Execs: Tablets Will Eclipse PCs, iOS Stronger Than Ever

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Apple executives expressed supreme confidence in the future of iOS during a meeting with Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope, according to Business Insider. And Apple COO Tim Cook thinks the iPad is on track for even more impressive success as the tablet market moves to eclipse PC sales.

Tim Cook was joined by Apple SVP of Retail Ron Johnson and CFO Peter Oppenheimer during the meeting with Shope. Of course, they remained mum on the details of future Apple products (including iOS 5, which is due for at least a preview Monday at WWDC 2011), but they were vocal about iOS and Android as a general subject.

Shope came away from the meeting with the iOS-Android battle framed by the Apple execs as a showdown between integrated and fragmented platforms. It’s a line Apple has used before, but Apple expanded on its position, noting “that an open and free OS like Android was bound to enjoy a rapid expansion in its overall installed base near-term, but over time, the perils of platform fragmentation would weaken the value of this installed base and the overall platform ecosystem.” Basically, Shope is saying Android’s hardware agnostic approach will give it lots of users fast, but those users ultimately won’t add to the strength of the platform as much as iOS users do. Apple seems to be stalling its market share decline recently relative to Google, in app downloads and in handset use, so the negative effects of that fragmentation may already be taking hold.

I found it much more interesting that Cook believes tablet sales will eclipse PC sales, though he did say that it would happen only gradually “over the next several years,” something that seems inconceivable given the current reach of the PC. But Business Insider previously reported that consumer PC growth is set to be negative for the first time in quite a while, Gartner shows that PC growth is slowing amid a shift to mobile devices, and iPad sales are on track to increase 72 percent year-over-year for the June quarter, according to Shope’s estimates. Microsoft seems to also see tremendous potential in the tablet market, since the Windows 8 operating system it just started previewing also sports a fancy tablet mode.

In terms of use, it does seem like a lot of users are using their tablets as computer replacements already, and the iPad is leading that charge. It is very possible that one day, the iPad could be the standard computing device for most users and households, but I’d say it will be years before we see a tipping point. What do you think? Is the tablet the next PC?

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