Apple launches iPad Pro: Promises desktop performance in tablet

Apple's iPad Pro is primarily aimed at the enterprise, but it's unclear whether the device will take sales from the MacBook or even Microsoft's Surface Pro.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple on Wednesday outlined its iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch tablet that's primarily aimed at corporations that have already bet on the iPhone and iOS. However, Apple execs also made a prosumer case and argued that the iPad Pro is enterprise class with help from app partners such as Microsoft and Adobe.

The iPad Pro addresses a hole in Apple's enterprise line-up---increasingly popular 2-in-1 devices.

Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing chief, said the iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch diagonal screen. "It's as wide as iPad Air is tall," said Schiller, who also outlined a physical keyboard. In many respects, the iPad Pro looks a lot like the Surface. Apple did introduce a stylus that it calls Apple Pencil. Nevertheless, the resemblance to the Surface is obvious.

Here's the breakdown of key items:

  • $799 starting price with 32GB of storage
  • Apple Pencil at $99
  • Apple Keyboard at $169
  • WiFi and LTE and 128GB at $1079
  • Available in November.

Here's a price and spec bake-off with iPad Pro, Surface Pro and MacBook


The message here is that the iPad Pro can deliver new applications and 10 hour battery life. "It's going to enable new classes of applications for iPad. This is AutoCad 360 from AutoDesk," said Schiller in a demo.

Apple made the case that its iPad Pro is made for the enterprise. Apple even brought on Microsoft to plug Office.

Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for Microsoft Office, touted markup tools and features. "We want to extend this richness with the new iPad Pro with Ink to allow anyone to markup documents," he said. "Just like Word, just like Excel, PowerPoint has excellent support for the Apple Pencil."


Adobe was also on stage for demonstrations of the mobile apps.

On the hardware front, Schiller also said storage performance has been improved to match desktops. Key images:


What remains to be seen is whether Apple's iPad Pro will take sales from the MacBook within companies. Apple has formed partnerships with Cisco and IBM to create differentiated iOS apps in companies. A large screen iPad would be able to show off those applications better.

Another wild card for the iPad Pro is how much consumer appeal the device will have. Strategically, the iPad Pro is important since Apple is increasingly dependent on the iPhone for the bulk of its revenue.

Previously: Apple's iPad Pro: Will enterprises bite? | iPad Pro: Apple's enterprise-grade offering is an urban myth

"Given sales of iPads have been declining in the recent quarters mainly driven by declines in the broader tablet market as well as cannibalization by larger screen iPhones, we believe a release of an iPad Pro could improve growth for a quarter or two," said Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um in a research note.

On the other side of the iPad spectrum, Apple updated its mini line.

The new lineup looks like this:


Microsoft on Tuesday announced that HP and Dell will both sell its Surface 2-in-1 device, which has been popular with businesses. The additional distribution, along with a partnership with Accenture, appears to be designed to counter the iPad Pro and its prospects in the enterprise.

Apple iPhone-and-more event in pictures

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