This kind of reasoning is common, but overly simplistic. Actually to the point were I cannot take it seriously because the ones holding it clearly didnt put enough thought into it to make a discussion even worthwhile. There are many different kinds of creativity - some of them are a perfect fit for the iPad (even better than a notebook or desktop PC), some of them are good and some of them don't always work that well.

Where does it fit perfectly?

Anything that makes perfect use of the Apple Pencil. This starts from note taking but even more comes to creating artwork or touching up photos. There are pro level apps like Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo which essentially offer the same featureset on Mac/Win and iPad. The UI is optimized for touch and pencil though on the iPad. With the growing performance of the devices even the sheer size of the artworks isn't any difference anymore.

Where does it fit good?

Creative writing is something that does work really well on the iPad if used with a keyboard. In over 20 years of writing I learned to mainly use tools that allow me to focus on the content. My main writing app is Ulysses, which works on Mac, iPad and iPhone. Writing on the iPad combines perfect mobility, long battery life and a very focused environment. Would that be possible with - say - a Macbook Air? Yes of course - but not better in any way. And if I then want to switch to create an illustration or diagram, the iPad even fits better than the Macbook.

Another scenario where it works very good is console oriented administration or even console oriented development (server apps). There are some where good apps for this out there: Blink uses "mosh" and allows me to have an "always" on session to my development server. I can just take the iPad out of my bag and start hacking, put it away, take it out later and in a split second are back to where I left it. This arguably works better than most notebooks because of that incredible "instant on" of the iPad. The new M1 macs might be equally good though.

Software development in general is a scenario that doesn't yet work quite that well with the iPad. You can actually do alot if you mainly develop using remote machines (like the server development above). You can also do quite well using an remote desktop app. One needs a good enough online connection, but it somewhat makes it work like a small Mac or Windows notebook. But: As soon as you want to develop locally it get restricted. There are some apps like "Continuous" for C#/F# or Play.js for Node.js and React Native. But they still all have to fight with the limits of what apps are allowed to do. Up to the M1 the chips also didn't have virtualization capabilities, which makes it impossible that there could be something like docker on the iPad itself. With the new iPad Pro and M1 there is a chance, that it might get Docker container virtualization.

To sum it up: Saying that iPads are just consumption devices is far from true. My experience is actually to the contrary. Having such a powerful creativity device always with me boosts my creativity. As a mobile creativity device it does work better than ANY notebook I ever had (including Macbook Pro 15"). Does it work for everyone? Definitely not, but I'm touching up photos, creating artwork, writing articles and do coding (mostly server related)... so it fits very well for that scenarios. Where it will not work is "I need several Windows/MacOS only applications and several big monitors" kind of scenarios.

Developer — Author — Photographer — Guitarist

Developer — Author — Photographer — Guitarist