There is little doubt that Apple would like customers to purchase a Mac, an iPhone, and an iPad, and each product’s capabilities– features and functions– are cleverly positioned to optimize those multi-device sales. That explains why many, many Apple customers have all three devices. Each has functionality that is different enough from the other two to be beneficial as a standalone device, or in concert with the other two devices.
Each device provides great usability and value as a standalone device, but works in a blended harmony with the other two in such a way as to entice customers to purchase one of each.
Here’s an example of what Apple could do but will not to make the iPad more usable. Multi-user iPads.
Your Mac has multiple user capability built-in to OS X. Multiple users get their own accounts for Desktop, Documents, iTunes, iPhoto, and so on. iOS is based on OS X so adding multi-user capability to an iPad is trivial. Why doesn’t the iPad have a multi-user option? Apple wants more iPad sales; especially to families where older devices, still very usable, are often handed down as new ones are purchased.
We don’t use the Mac for the same tasks as the iPhone which isn’t used the same as the iPad, though there are similar functions across the board. Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Photos, Music, Calendar, Mail, Contacts, Messages and Notifications are obvious.
The Mac is home to more powerful and capable applications than either iPhone or iPad and that’s not likely to change soon because of the gulf that separates Apple’s mobile device ARM-based CPUs vs. Intels high end CPUs. Yet, Apple realizes that all three devices need to work together in harmony. With iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, you’ll be able to answer incoming calls or place outgoing calls on either Mac or iPad while your iPhone stays charged or stuck in a pocket or purse.
The Mac is all about power applications, larger screen, and full size keyboard. The iPad is all about personal convenience; with modest sized screen, built-in keyboard though a full sized keyboard can be added if needed, tablet optimized apps, and it can use cellular data to always be connected to the internet. The iPhone is the most portable of the three devices but suffers from tiny keyboard and screen, which limits usability for certain functional requirements which may be more easily accomplished on the other devices.
Apple balances the capabilities in all three devices in such a way that each has special and distinct value and usability, yet each device works well with the other two, and customers can benefit by owning all three. Notice how OS X is beginning to look and function more like iOS? Apple has ten times as many iOS customers as Mac customers.
Apple’s entire ecosystem is designed to complement each device and to work seamlessly between devices in such a way that customers will be comfortable using all three, therefore, comfortable owning all three.
I don’t doubt that Apple– engineers, designers, executives– enjoy designing, building, and marketing products that customers love to use. But Apple wants us to buy as many of its products as we can.