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Apple's iPad Tech Advances Will Catch the Competition Off Guard

Stocks in this article: AAPL MSFT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) has been incredibly smart about understanding the difference between how people want to use a modern tablet like the iPad compared to how they want to use, say, a notebook computer. Microsoft (MSFT), take note, the status quo is poised to change dramatically. 

The first personal computers evolved into a natural separation of design. Legacy human interactions with a PC or Mac focused on the keyboard and the mouse. Users are comfortable with a notebook computer with a great keyboard and mouse and/or touchpad, and they have no desire to reach out with an aching arm to touch, say, a MacBook Air's display.

On the other hand, it was no accident that Steve Jobs introduced the iPad tablet in 2010 while sitting in a sofa. The natural mode of use is with an iPad held like a book in one hand and touched with the fingers of the other hand. That essential understanding drove the success of the iPad. And yet, to this day, Microsoft's Surface tablet has not come to embrace that reality. Thin, unimpressive keyboards do not make for either a stellar tablet or a substitute notebook computer.

This natural distinction between the two kinds of devices is driven by the state of the art in technology. So long as a traditional PC/Mac in notebook form must interact with a human with a visible file system and a keyboard, the standard PC/Mac will endure.

As a result, a keen understanding of what customers want and need is more important than trying to force a hybrid technology down users' throats. That's why the Microsoft Surface tablet series will continue to have difficulties in the consumer market.

That deep understanding by Apple in how customers approach a tablet differently than a notebook computer has led to avoiding a merger of the two operating systems, sometimes called "iOS-ification." What's best about an OS X is continually refined apart from iOS developments. However, as we saw at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote, on June 2, Apple continues to improve the way these devices work together -- without making them the same.

That's fine for today's technology. However, a change is coming.

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