Before the iPhone, there were good MP3 players, good phones and good PDAs that could browse the Internet. But efforts to combine all that functionality into one device failed, because software and hardware weren’t ready for that convergence.
To replace several devices with just one device, the replacement had to replicate the functionality of those focused devices well enough to justify its existence. The iPhone was the first to succeed, and today you no longer buy MP3 players or mobile Internet devices; you just buy smartphones.
For the last several years, Microsoft has been trying to do the same trick for laptops and tablets. It’s been trying to create that one replacement device, and that device is called the Surface.