With WWDC 2016 officially announced, many of us are counting down the days until Apple reveals its plans for iOS 10, tvOS, OS X, and watchOS. I’m excited about what Apple has in store for each one of these operating systems, especially for iOS 10… on the iPad Pro.
The iPad lineup
For the record, I am not an iPad owner. Many years ago I found that the iPad was a product that I didn’t use that much. Between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro at the time, it was tough for me to make a case for having a tablet. Today, I use an iPhone 6 and a 27-inch Retina 5K iMac.
When Apple debuted the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I was genuinely excited. Taking everything about the 12.9-inch iPad and putting it into a 9.7-inch body is something that peaked my interest. Soon after, I started to wonder if it was actually worth what Apple was charging. Let me explain why.
Like the majority of people, I am not someone who draws much. When I do, it’s in my $3 Field Notes. Is the average person willing to spend an extra $300 to purchase a 9.7-inch iPad Pro over the iPad Air 2? I honestly don’t think so.
The $399 iPad Air 2 is still plenty powerful and offers split-view, side-by-side apps, and picture-in-picture functionality. For $699, you get a 9.7-inch iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. My guess is at least 75 percent of folks will elect to save the $300 and go with the iPad Air 2. In fact, you can get that tablet for $339, a full $60 less if you buy a refurbished one from Apple.
I know the iPad Pro has other features including a Smart Connector and the new True Tone display, but I still don’t believe that the vast majority of people in the market for a tablet are willing to spend $300 more for those extras. The truth is only a tiny segment of creative professionals who want Pencil functionality need an iPad Pro. Other than that, it’s a hard sell.
Why iOS 10 should be different
This is why I think iOS 10 needs to be the OS that pushes the iPad Pro to the next level. I think the iPad Pro needs to be treated the same way Samsung handles the Galaxy Note. Give it truly distinctive OS features that you simply cannot get on any no-Pro iPad. Give people more than the Apple Pencil and a few other reasons to get the iPad Pro. It is the “future of computing” after all.
This is the only way Apple is going to convince folks to go iPad Pro and not stick with the iPad Air 2. That being said, something about the company’s messaging around the iPad Pro and it being the “future” is somewhat telling. I feel like we’re in for something that could be pretty impressive and perhaps only exclusive to the iPad Pro. If Apple goes that route, then I think we’re going to see iPad sales grow very nicely. If not, and the Pro is treated just like a more powerful iPad Air with a Pencil, then I think most people will default to buying the $399 iPad Air 2.
And that might not be a bad thing either. At $399, Apple can push a lot more units. However, if Apple believes in what it says, the iPad iPro’s features today is not enough. It has to be treated differently.