As a developer of computer music technology, I have a keen interest in identifying the greatest opportunities in the future of computer music. Will everyone move to the iPad? Or maybe the iPad will be a passing fancy? I suspect the answer will lie somewhere in between.
People are getting more creative about finding ways to maximize their productive time compared to 20 years ago. Cell technology now allows for people to communicate in any location with cell service. If someone is going to be late to a meeting, they can now call ahead and inform the people in the meeting and make alternative plans. If you head out to the grocery store and your significant other realizes there is something else they needed you to get, they can now call you and update your shopping list. If you are lost, you can connect to the Internet on your mobile device and view a map of your current location.
But what about music? Unlike simple communication, making music consumes more of your attention, so it isn’t quite suited to the range of environments that people are using for cell phone communication. Headphones can certainly improve your listening experience wherever you are, but many mobile devices can’t be seen in bright sunlight. The smaller screens (1024×768) are limiting compared to most desktops, so apps tend to focus on a narrower set of tasks (which can be a good thing). A touchscreen is certainly better than a mouse, but the lack of a keyboard means accelerator key options are limited.
The bottom line is that iPad apps that can work with a narrow focus will be done more on the iPad, while apps with a broad range of options, or that are greatly enhanced by keyboard accelerators are going to stay on the traditional desktop or laptop. It is also a safe bet that developers will be providing better and better interoperability between iPads and traditional desktops, so that you can fly out a simple task to your iPad while riding the train to work, then re-integrate your work into a larger project on your desktop once you get there. For that reason, I suspect music production on laptops and desktops isn’t going to disappear and iPad music production will increase, but won’t be the only game in town.