2. Demand for PCs is growing, not shrinking
Jobs' argument that fewer people will need PCs in the near future falls flat when you look at the numbers. Sales of desktop PCs, laptops, and servers slumped during the economic recession, but 2010 figures show all three categories on the rebound.
It's too early to predict just how good a year PC vendors will have, but analysts are uniformly optimistic. IDC expects worldwide PC sales to grow by almost 20 percent in 2010, while Gartner puts the figure at 22 percent. Meanwhile, market research firm The NPD Group has reported gains of 30 percent year-over-year in early returns.
Even more astounding, many of these sales are going to desktop PCs, rather than laptops -- a category many analysts had left for dead. According to Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis, desktop PC revenue has actually grown faster than notebook revenue in some recent months.
"The resurgent desktop market is great news for the OEMs, especially Dell and HP," Baker writes, "as at least some of the rebirth is the result of consumers' need for more powerful, more capable family PCs."
That's one need the iPad and similar devices won't be able to fill.
3. Hype is not reality
Remember the Segway? If you believed the early hype, Dean Kamen's novel electric personal scooter would revolutionize the transportation industry. Cars themselves would soon be obsolete.
At that point, Steve Jobs was particularly effusive, telling Time magazine that the Segway would be "as big a deal as the PC." Jobs reportedly told Kamen, "If enough people see this machine, you won't have to convince them to architect cities around it; it'll just happen."
But according to journalist Steve Kemper, behind the scenes Jobs was far less optimistic.
"I think it sucks," Jobs reportedly said of an early Segway prototype. "Its shape is not innovative, it's not elegant, it doesn't feel anthropomorphic." These were grave sins to the Apple CEO, who suggested Kamen consult a product design firm.
In hindsight, the Segway fell victim to the very issues Jobs, Kamen, and others discussed prior to its launch: Not only was it a hard sell to consumers given its unfamiliar design and high price point, but regulatory pressures literally forced it off the road in many cities.
Mind you, none of this is to say Jobs doesn't believe his new baby, the iPad, has a bright future, but it's wise to take Jobs, a self-confessed "big bang guy," with a grain of salt. For all his talk about saving newspapers, revolutionizing media, and transforming computing, we're a long way from an iPad in every home. TVs, Blu-ray players, phones, MP3 players, and plain old PCs wield a lot of influence, and they'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future.