Apple's iPad Pro: Too late for huge enterprise splash?

Apple's iPad Pro looks like more of a September-October happening and the degree of difficulty for tablets replacing PCs in the enterprise is increasing.

Apple has an almost tired iPad franchise with an unknown replacement cycle. Tablet sales growth is slowing dramatically. And Apple has big enterprise plans, but the iPad Pro, a 12.9 inch device that would play well in corporations, is being put off.

Is the arrival of the iPad Pro a case of too little too late?

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According to Bloomberg, the launch of Apple's iPad Pro is being put off due to screen supplies. There was some hope that the iPad Pro would be announced at the Apple Watch event next week. The Wall Street Journal noted that the iPad Pro may feature a larger overhaul with USB 3.0 technology.

Those features would make sense since the iPad Pro is expected to be a work tool that will presumably have a bevy of IBM-powered analytics apps too. What remains to be seen is whether there's a real market for the iPad Pro in the enterprise or otherwise. Apple CEO Tim Cook is sold. "I believe that over the long arc of time that the iPad is a great business. I also have visibility obviously to what's in the pipeline and feel very, very good about that," said Cook on Apple's most recent earnings call.

Previously:Apple's 13-inch iPad suffers production delays | Apple, IBM deal set to "expand": Will 13-inch iPad model help? | Tablet sales dive, but Windows might just ride to the rescue | The Apple-IBM partnership: Apple spoils early, Big Blue's later? | Apple needs the iPad to be 'long arc,' enterprise driven

Clearly, Apple needs a larger-screened tablet just to round out the field and potentially deliver more units. The iPad is being pinched by the iPhone 6 Plus. Tablets are going commodity and the devices apparently last a long enough to approach a PC upgrade cycle. Best Buy is basically downplaying tablets due to material declines in sales.

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If you really want to go crazy you could make the case that the tablet is a netbook-ish tweener product. That argument probably doesn't hold up, but it's clear tablets are losing some of their luster.

A year ago, the iPad Pro would have had a much easier time. A few thoughts to ponder:

  • Enterprises could go for an iPad Pro, but many corporations just plowed through a PC upgrade cycle. These companies are looking to consolidate tablet and PC buys not engage in two separate replacement cycles.
  • The chatter of USB support in the iPad indicates that the iPad Pro could be viewed as a laptop replacement. The catch is that completed PC upgrade cycle. A year ago, an iPad Pro may have been more of an option as companies were replacing laptops.
  • Microsoft's ecosystem has delivered better options on converged devices. The slate of ultrabooks, two-in-one devices and similar devices has improved dramatically. The launch of Windows 10 will also help the corporate push for these devices.
  • What are the advantages of a 12.9-inch iPad Pro? Obviously, a bigger screen is a plus. But there's a direct tradeoff with portability. No one is going to carry a massive iPad and a laptop. The iPad Pro needs to do everything a laptop can and then something unique.

To be sure, there will be a market for the iPad Pro in the enterprise. But the degree of difficulty increases as production gets pushed.

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