Apple's latest round of iPads had a bevy of observers connecting the dots and the company's intentions.
And why not? Apple is still driven by iPhone sales, but there are significant financial gains from its iPad franchise. While some folks were puzzled by the lack of a fingerprint sensor on the iPad, Apple did enough to ensure a strong upgrade cycle for its installed base.
Here's a look at five takeaways from Tuesday's unveiling.
Apple set the stage for an iPad Pro at some point. By adopting the "Air" naming convention for the iPad, Apple is signaling there could be a more power user pro version. Some analysts have speculated that an iPad Pro would include a keyboard cover as well as a 13-inch option.
The company knows the next battle is in the cloud. Free versions of software---Mavericks updates and applications such as iWork---are designed to encourage ecosystem usage. Not surprisingly, Apple's primary apps are heavily integrated with iCloud. Remember that the real battle between Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google takes place in the cloud.
Free applications like iWork are built for consumerization. Apple's move to launch new versions of iWork and iLife applications for free are Apple's way of showing that customers don't need Microsoft Office or a PC to be productive. Highlighting iWork's collaboration tools is defense against Google Apps. Consider iWork a subliminal consumerization message.
iOS and the Mac platforms continue to come together in baby steps. Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said:
Apple continues to innovate in software by converging the look, feel and consistency of its Mac and iOS platforms and the interoperability between them (i.e. iCloud, keychain etc).
There's an aggressive enterprise push by Apple on deck. Analysts such as Whitmore said Apple's iWork pricing strategy is designed to target the small business market. Whitmore added:
The SMB market segment traditionally has less legacy investment in prior Software platforms
and is likely to be receptive of this offering. Over time we view this strategy as a precursor for a more aggressive push into enterprise and sets the stage for a future ‘iPad Pro’ targeting the enterprise in the future.
Apple's iPad upgrade cycle will get a big assist from secondary markets and residual values of its devices. Cowen analyst Timothy Arcuri said:
Based on our research, Apple products generally have higher residual values than competitor products (for example a 1 year old iPad 4 still retains ~40-48% of its original value vs. competitors ~24-30%) which in term ultimately lowers the true cost to upgrade. For example, an iPad 4 user that wants to upgrade to the new iPad Air could sell their used device for ~$240-280 (to companies such as gazelle.com) and then purchase an iPad Air for $499-799 with a net out of pocket cost of ~$259-519.