The iPad Pro could be just what the doctor ordered for Apple's lagging tablet sales
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
In a recent post, I shared my thoughts about lackluster iPad sales and I predicted that new technologies and possibly a larger-screen iPad Pro would help rejuvenate Apple’s tablet sales. Lo and behold, AppleInsider had a juicy story from someone inside Apple about the development of the iPad Pro.
Before I share my thoughts about this, here’s a snippet from AppleInsider’s story:
Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider:
Apple is indeed working on a larger iPad which will feature a number of changes, including an all-new Bluetooth stylus accessory with pressure sensitivity, support for Force Touch input, and a USB-C connector…
…Apple is expected to include an NFC radio within the new 12.9-inch iPad. While tap-to-pay functionality in an iPad is unlikely, the inclusion of NFC could allow for an “iPad Pro” to serve as a payment receiving terminal for Apple Pay.
The source also indicated that the jumbo-sized iPad will sport a new touchscreen with improved touch latency. It was said that this will improve the experience when used with a new Apple-built Bluetooth stylus.
The screen itself will also reportedly sense pressure from fingertips, as Apple is said to be planning to bring its Force Touch input to the 12.9-inch iPad.
So, if these rumors are true (and they likely have at least some validity) then it’s clear that Apple is pulling out all the stops in the development of the iPad Pro. And that’s exactly what the company needs to do to get iPad sales back into growth mode.
Here are five reasons why I think an iPad Pro might help revive Apple’s tablet sales.
1. The iPad Pro might be the key to the enterprise
One important reason for a larger-screen (and probably more powerful) iPad could be Apple’s attempt to make inroads into the enterprise. The company’s partnership with IBM is one very important part of that strategy, but offering a more enterprise-capable iPad that could also take the place of laptops might be another.
The iPad Pro will no doubt come with a significantly faster processor than the current iPad Air, and probably more RAM as well. A stylus could also be very useful for the mobile computing needs of some companies. And Force Touch would add another very interesting wrinkle to what an iPad can do for businesses.
And Apple will probably also include new features and changes to iOS to take full advantage of the new hardware. iOS 8 is a very good mobile operating system for consumers, but it lacks features and abilities that would put the iPad on par with using a laptop, particularly the ability to run two apps at the same time in windows on the screen.
Tim Cook has made it quite clear that he thinks the iPad has a bright future, and the iPad Pro might be the reason why he thinks that. After all, if anybody knows exactly what’s coming in terms of a larger-screen iPad for the enterprise, it’s him.
2. The iPad Pro might cut down on iPhone 6 Plus cannibalization
When Apple released the iPhone 6 Plus the company no doubt knew that it might cannibalize some iPad sales. The iPhone 6 Plus can almost be considered an iPad nano, and some of Apple customers have no doubt either cut down on the use of their iPads or simply skipped buying one altogether after purchasing the bigger screen iPhone.
But an iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen would be a significantly different experience than using the 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6 Plus. It might be enough to spur some iPhone 6 Plus users to also spring for an iPad, and use it at home instead of their phone.
3. The iPad Pro could be a wonderful e-reader
One other function that a larger screen iPad Pro might excel at is ebooks. Yes, ebooks. Right now the iPad Air is the biggest attraction for folks that love to read on an Apple device. But the release of a 12.9-inch iPad Pro could spur them to upgrade to have an even better reading experience.
I recognize that some might think that ebooks is a bit of an odd thing to consider when talking about the iPad Pro. But never underestimate the desire of bookworms like me to have the ability to read more text with less page turns. We’re book junkies and the larger screen on the iPad Pro definitely has its appeal.
4. The iPad Pro could be delightful for comic books
Speaking of reading, it occurs to me that comic book fans could also love using an iPad Pro. The current iPad Air provides a good experience with reading digital comics. But a bigger screen would be even better. Seriously, if you’ve ever read comics on an iPad Air or iPad mini then you know that a bigger screen would be significantly better.
It’s not easy reading the dialogue bubbles in some comics on the iPad mini or even the iPad Air. But a 12.9-inch iPad Pro would certainly be easier on the eyes. It would certainly make me more interested in buying and reading comics than I am right now.
And I can only imagine how beautiful the art in comic books would be on the larger, higher-resolution screen of an iPad Pro. It would probably put older generations of iPads to shame in terms of the quality of the images.
5. The iPad Pro could be a killer gaming tablet
Games have always been some of the bestselling and top grossing apps in the iOS App Store. Think I’m kidding? Take a look at the two screenshots below, and note how many of the Top Paid and Top Grossing iPad apps are games:
Gamers themselves are also very passionate about playing their favorite titles on their iPads and other iOS devices. I can see iOS gamers in particular gravitating to a more powerful iPad Pro, with a larger screen than the iPad Air. Everything about the iPad Pro would scream “awesome gaming experience!” for such users. I think they’d jump at the chance to buy such a killer gaming tablet.
Game developers are also notorious for maxing out the hardware the capabilities of the iPad. An iPad Pro with a faster A9 processor, better graphics capabilities, and more RAM would give them a lot to work with in terms of adding more eye-candy to their games. No game developer has ever complained about having faster hardware to put their games on, and I don’t see the iPad Pro being an exception to that rule.
I might buy an iPad Pro when it is released
All of this has me lusting after an iPad Pro of my own. Currently, I don’t own an iPad. I use my iPhone 6 Plus instead and it works very well for most of my needs. But a larger-screen iPad with better hardware would certainly increase the chances that I buy one. And I bet that I’m not alone in that regard.
For now we’ll just have to be patient while Apple works its magic on the iPad Pro. The rumor mill will no doubt continue to churn and more details about the iPad Pro will be released little by little. Eventually we’ll know exactly what Apple has up its sleeve for the iPad Pro, and my guess is that it will bring buyers back to the iPad in droves.
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