At Apple, ‘Pro’ is the new normal

And it’s getting better all the time

Apple, iPad, iPad Pro, iOS, A9, A10, processor

Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad Pro changes the tablet game. While it continues to sell an iPad Air and iPad Mini, it's crystal clear the Pro tablet range is now Apple’s main attraction.

Why would it turn out different?

Apple took possession of the tablet industry when it launched iPad in 2010. Since then he sector has become a more complex place, with Android tablets impacting sales at one end and Microsoft’s Surface range pressing at the other. Apple now commands around 24.5 percent of this diverse sector, a sector that encompasses a broad space, from devices little more sophisticated than eBook readers all the way to the iPad Pro.

Apple saw that as tablets become more commoditized it needed to reset its place in the industry. That's precisely what the company is doing as it refocuses its iPad arm around one magic word: “Pro”.

What is “Pro”?

Pro is not about tablets with which to consume digital experiences.

It is about tablets you use to create those experiences.

“We believe that iPad is the perfect expression of the future of computing,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on stage before marketing VP, Phil Schiller introduced the new iPad Pro.

This isn’t hyperbole – you only need to ponder Apple’s move to ensure most iOS users are on the latest chips. There is a connection between increasing levels of computational power in mobile devices and the company’s future platform plans.

That’s why I think the company should introduce an iPad Pro mini. I think it will be the best reporter’s notebook I’ve ever used and I can't wait to see it.

Are we there yet?

I’ve used every iPad since the product's launch in 2010. I can still remember the reaction when I took one along to a C-level executive conference shortly after it first appeared. These days those executives are using iPad Pro.

I've worked with both sizes of iPad Pro, and while the specs are impressive I don’t intend repeating them here, as you’ll find them everywhere. Anecdotally I remain very impressed by the near zero latency you see when you use an Apple Pencil to draw.

In combination with the huge range of productivity apps, I think Apple is well on course to position iPad Pro as the PC replacement. There are some obstacles, principally compatibility between iOS and existing enterprise systems, such as content management systems.

For me this means I can’t fully make the transition to using iPad Pro for my work because the content management systems I use for some projects don’t support iOS. That’s a typical example of the kind of incompatibility that's getting in the way. Legacy systems (and developers too highly invested in such systems) just don't yet play nice.

It is also ironic that I can’t yet use an iPad Pro for is to build iOS apps, though I think Swift will be part of a solution to this.

Transition tales

Apple believes iPad Pro will be at the center of the new post-PC paradigm. Everyone who knows people working at Apple knows many who use iPad Pros for much of their work, and this feeds into product development – including processor development.

WWDC 2017

We already think we know Apple’s A10 chip (the next iteration of the chip used inside iPads and iPhones) may host six cores. If this turns out to be true then we’re looking at true desktop performance in a mobile device.

That’s when things will become even more interesting. Apple won’t be replacing PCs with devices that can’t quite do everything a PC does, but with tablets that are capable of doing even more than the PCs they replace.

This is why Pro is the new normal.

I wonder what hints Apple will drop of its wider transition plan at WWDC 2016, and what it will reveal at WWDC 2017, when it is likely to invite developers to its newly built HQ.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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