Image credit: Apple
Apple rolled out some very nice products during its September 9 event. The new iPhones are suitably drool worthy, and the new Apple TV has a lot of design thought put into it and will be the signature device from the event. However, I was particularly impressed with the iPad Pro and its implications for the future of the iPad line.
As someone in a galaxy far, far away might have said: this is the iPad I was looking for.
The whole design philosophy of the iPad Pro, it appears, is to breathe new life into the iPad product line. Yes, the iPads as they were originally conceived, were brilliant. Millions of Apple customers have enjoyed using the iPads shipped to date in the manner in which they were intended.
However, that crystal clear vision was a product of 2009-10. Now, five years later, the product has to grow. It has to meet the needs of more people in new ways. In other words, it has to evolve, but evolve in new ways according to Apple's unique vision. I wrote about this just recently. "Apple’s iPad Pro Will Be an Evolutionary Product."
Some readers may surmise that Apple is following the lead of the Microsoft Surface series, most notably the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. But that's a simplification. The reason is because Apple laid a crisp foundation with iOS and Cocoa Touch to reimagine how a modern tablet should work. Microsoft, on the other hand, crammed a version of Windows into a tablet platform and tacked on touch sensitive features.
The fact that Microsoft touts the Surface series as "The tablet that can replace your laptop" is a blurry vision of a Windows computer inside a tablet, and so a keyboard and stylus are necessities. The iPad, on the other hand, is the purest of modern tablets that can be used with an optional keyboard and Apple Pencil for certain productivity applications. But these accessories are not needed for other activites, such as movie watching or book and magazine reading. The difference is important and dramatic.
The iPad Pro extends the reach of the legendary iPad, instantiated in the iPad Air 2. It both affords additional capability and proposes a vision for a full-featured product line. The ideas is that the customers pick the product they need for the kinds of activities they engage in. Accordingly, I expect the iPad Pro to supplement iPad sales in parallel with customers who find themselves ready to retire their original iPad, iPad 2,3 and 4.
Along those lines, does this new iPad Pro compete with and cannibalize the new MacBook? I don't see that happening. I don't think we're looking at any kind of need for a merger or the demise of any one line, MacBooks or iPads. One may guess that the iPad is the future of Apple, but for today, there are still millions of customers who want and need a MacBook of some kind with OS X. Apple will let these product lines play themselves out over the next 10 years.
The thing to note is that Apple has breathed life into an evolving product line with the iPad Pro. Where it can take us next will be fascinating to observe in the coming years.
The fact that its design and vision are so compelling (I instantly wanted one when I saw it in the presentation) tells me that Apple has a crystal clear vision of what an iPad should be and how it should start to evolve again.
This will be a winning product because it will connect with customers in all the important ways that a pure tablet should. I know I'm inspired and full of excitement about what the iPad Pro will be able to achieve.