Apple’s event today confirmed the rumors that had been floating around the Internet for variable periods of time. In the case of the iPad Pro, the rumor mill had eluded to a release of this product for years. Perceptions of the iPad Pro are drawing comparisons to the Surface Pro lineup due to input device similarities (magnetically attached keyboard, pen/”pencil” provisions). The edge on screen resolution currently rests in Apple’s camp. The release of the Surface Pro 4 may or may not bring parity in this final aspect of differentiation. The $799 entry point for an iOS device with a better-than-Macbook Pro with Retina Display screen may be a very tough pill to swallow. There is certainly a market for the iPad Pro, and we would posit that the focus will be more on the enterprise and less on the consumer space.
Partnerships with IBM and, more recently, Cisco lend credence to this idea. When combined with a remote app and VDI implementation using solutions from VMware or Citrix, it would certainly be possible to offer the best of both worlds to meet the needs of a diverse user base. The target users would simply launch an app to access a published application or desktop. The Apple Pencil ($99) provides a key navigation element to move around and manipulate a given desktop without instituting a virtual graphical mouse within the session. WAN acceleration and latency mitigation technologies that are currently available will further enhance the proposition of adopting the iPad Pro and running it until the iOS support wheels fall off.
In addition to the iPad Pro, the refreshed iPad Mini with nearly identical capabilities to the currently untouched iPad Air 2 also graced the stage. The delay on implementing the A8 SoC last year felt artificial. Its arrival this year with some other hardware upgrades makes this worthwhile if you’re coming from the original iPad mini. It may be a harder sell for the market that remains for tablets in the 7-8″ range.
The iPhone 6s/6s Plus were also unveiled, and the official specs match what has been noted from “anonymous sources” for months. The new A9 SoC, stronger 7000-series aluminum, memory increases, imaging boosts on both cameras, and architectural changes feel like much more than what has previously been associated with the S-series refresh. Historically, Apple would introduce a new SoC, a new “unique” feature (Siri for the 4s, Touch ID for the 5s) and the market loved it. While the new iPhone may not please everyone, it does feel like one of the most comprehensive top-to-bottom upgrades that can reinvigorate interest in the device. As long as issues related to the use of a new camera, modified antenna design/arrangement for WiFi, or stronger metal do not result in the reinvention of past errors, the potential for new sales records is Apple’s to lose.
Finally, Apple has revamped the stagnant Apple TV product with much of the functionality that customers have become accustomed to through use of iOS devices. Many of the newly introduced features have been available for some time on direct and indirect competitor’s products. Hopefully, the long game for Apple plays out as it has been rumored. Over-the-top TV service and compelling games to capture the casual gaming market may finally improve the adoption of the product by more households. Enabling the creation of apps may finally solve one of the biggest gaps that has plagued the outgoing A5-based Apple TV – Amazon Instant Video. Having “an app for that” would help with streaming service parity compared to less-expensive offerings from Roku, Amazon, Google, etc. While you can work around the lack of native integration, fewer hoops to jump through is key.