We’ve probably spent more years speculating about the product than Apple perhaps spent developing it, but the stage seems increasingly well staged for the enterprise-focused productivity tablet we like to call iPad Pro, (if it exists at all). Here’s what you need to know:
Apple the enterprise company
I’ve written so much around Apple’s growing position in the enterprise, but try these three more recent tales for a sense of what transpires:
- Now, even the Apple Watch is an enterprise product
- CIO: Apple’s enterprise credentials continue to grow
- Yes, Apple does own the mobile enterprise
Good Technology recently reported iPhone 6 devices comprised 72% of all enterprise smartphone activations and 81% of tablet activations. Apple’s solutions are tools of choice in regulated industries, such as the public sector and financial industries, they said.
Partnerships are helping Apple to consolidate its enterprise position, from Microsoft’s support for iOS to the Apple/IBM big data alliance. It also comprises Apple’s recently announced partnerships with a enterprise solutions providers, including bigtincan.
“In a few short years, Apple has moved from a specialist minority device provider, popular in certain creative applications, through a consumer-led initiative, into general-purpose enterprise use,” said Quocirca analyst, Rob Bamworth.
This is the context into which Apple could (perhaps) launch its heavily speculated upon 12.9-inch iPad Pro. We don’t know if it will appear, but if it does it should be something like this:
At 12.9-inches the iPad Pro straddles the space between tablet and notebook and should kill off any remaining pockets of netbook demand. Reports earlier this year claim the device will use IGZO panels. Apple is also rumored to be examining use of a new silver nanowire component that can be used in thinner touch panels, capable of detecting pressure…
In keeping with the future of the iPhone, it is thought iPad Pro will support ForceTouch, as used on the latest MacBook. That’s interesting in several ways, not least the ease with which users will be able to access contextual menus, but also because it lets you draw on your display as if it were a graphics tablet -- handy for signatures to digital business processes.
Of course, if you are drawing (or signing a digital document) on a display with your finger you may sometimes pine for the chance to draw with a pen, and that’s where Apple’s strongly speculated upon iPad stylus plan comes into play.
The device is expected to host a built-in NFC chip for Apple Pay. This will also make the iPad Pro the go to device for retailers as a new payments terminal at a relatively affordable price in comparison to existing systems. Some claim the iPad Pro will boast a USB Type-C port. Apple partners are working to ensure a range of interconnects for iOS products.
Recent reports suggest Apple won’t introduce a 12.9-inch iPad until 2016. This follows waves of conflicting release date claims, last December analysts predicted June; more recently Bloomberg cited September 2015. A move to ship in September or beyond makes sense, particularly if Apple introduces new enterprise focused SDKs within iOS 9 at WWDC 2015 – success demands great apps.
The notion of iOS 9 raises interesting possibilities, not least in combination with Apple’s next-generation A9 (?) processor, this is already expected to deliver 64-bit desktop-class power in a smartphone.
Think what iPad Pro would offer enterprise users in that event: the solution is an incredibly fast, advanced tablet in conjunction with a reputable partnership-based enterprise ecosystem.
If Apple introduces this device it will be offering the most sophisticated tablet designed for enterprise class productivity along with numerous apps and services to support it. In some cases it will replace the PC.
While I think it will take a few years for Apple's full plan to flesh out, I humbly suggest the strategy is sufficiently robust that earlier reports claiming the death of the iPad will prove foolish, simple-minded and utterly exaggerated.
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