What it is: iPad sales have been steadily dropping over the past few years, so how can Apple get people to buy more iPads?
It’s easy to get people to buy new iPhones because after two years, most people can upgrade to the newer model. With some carriers, you can even upgrade to the latest model every year. Because carriers subsidize or lease iPhones, people don’t need to pay full price ($700 or more) every time they want a new iPhone.
However, when people want to buy a new iPad, they’ll have to pay for the whole price themselves. That alone keeps people from upgrading every year or two. Now combine the fact that each iPad tends to still be useful years later and there’s little reason to upgrade for anyone.
So that’s why Apple just made the iPad obsolete for everything except the first generation iPad Pro. That’s because Apple’s new augmented reality kit (ARKit) only works on the iPad Pro or later models. That means every single iPad model (except for the latest iPad Pro models) is now obsolete.
That’s only a problem if you want augmented reality features on an iPad, but when Apple introduces augmented reality on the next iPhone this fall, you can bet that most people will want augmented reality on the iPad. That means every current iPad owner will need to upgrade to the iPad Pro.
The key is whether augmented reality will capture the imagination of people or not. It’s easy to see the appeal of augmented reality games like Pokemon GO. It’s harder to see the appeal of augmented reality for everyday use. That’s why Apple is also promoting the Apple Pencil as an additional user interface tool for the iPad Pro.
Right now, the Apple Pencil is mostly useful for artists and other people who need to draw. For non-artists, the Apple Pencil can be handy for jotting down notes just like using a pen and paper. Still, this feature alone likely won’t be enough to convince people to buy an Apple Pencil and a new iPad.
Eventually, the only way Apple can get people to upgrade to another iPad is to keep improving its features to the point where the older models just won’t do what the newer models can do. That’s why Apple is also promoting their optional keyboard to help turn the iPad Pro into a laptop computer. With the new Files app that lets you manage files, and multitasking, the iPad Pro with iOS 11 will make the iPad nearly equal to a laptop but with the greater convenience of a tablet.
Microsoft is busy trying to turn a laptop into a tablet with the Surface Pro. Apple is trying to turn a tablet into a laptop with the iPad Pro. The Surface Pro is far better as a computer than a tablet. The iPad Pro is far better as a tablet than a computer.
The difference is what you want. Do you want a laptop? Then get a Surface Pro. Do you want a tablet? Then get an iPad Pro. Do you want both? Then neither works equally well as a laptop and a tablet.
As the iPad Pro gets more powerful hardware, it will soon rival the power of as laptop. The key is whether the iPad Pro can remain light and easy to carry while offering the equivalent power of a laptop. To duplicate a laptop, an iPad Pro would need to duplicate a Windows PC.
If the processor in the iPad Pro becomes powerful enough to surpass Intel processors and be capable of running Windows, that’s when you’ll know that the iPad Pro won. If Intel processors can get more power efficient and the Windows operating system gets more tablet apps, then the Surface Pro will win.
The race for the future is split between the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro. Chances are good both will survive in the long run.