Apple has unveiled a new iPad - the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But does this new iPad have what it takes to reverse the decline in sales that the iPad has experienced over the past couple of years?
What's right with the iPad Pro:
- Bigger display offers a real, tangible improvement for those who find the iPad Air cramped.
- Exceptional display.
- More power, more performance.
- Improved speakers (something the iPad has seriously needed)
- Apple Pencil and Smart keyboard take the iPad in a new direction.
What's wrong with the iPad Pro:
- Comparatively more expensive than Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.
- Accessories feel overpriced for what they are (although graphic designers won't feel that way).
- Hard to shake that "it's just a bigger iPad" feeling.
The bottom line:
Last year Apple released a bigger iPhone and sales went through the roof. This year it's the turn of the iPad to get a display upgrade. But whether that have such a marked effect on sales remains to be seen.
As with the iPhone, it's hard to not look at the iPad and feel that this product too has entered into the maintenance period of its lifecycle, a period where improvements will come in the form of tweaks rather than sweeping changes. On the plus side, it's likely that most of the innovations you see in the iPad Pro will filter down to the next incarnation of the iPad Air.
It's also hard to not see the similarities to Microsoft's Surface Pro lineup. However, when you take a closer look the iPad Pro doesn't compare all that favorably. Not only is Apple's offering more expensive, but you're also only getting access to a "mobile" operating system rather than a fully-fledged one. I still think the ability to run "desktop" apps is still beneficial on devices with screens as big that that found on the iPad Pro. My feeling on this might change if app developers rise to the challenge of building more robust apps for the iPad Pro, but that's unlikely to take off unless sales of the device are strong.