In less than 24 hours, Apple will unveil the latest slew of devices designed to make our lives easier and wallets lighter. Typically, the focus is on consumers but recent announcements of partnerships and alliances with IBM and Cisco point to a more business-focussed Apple.
Having snuck into corporate boardrooms with the iPhone and iPad, they’re now making a full frontal assault. And, the almost certain release of the new iPad Pro – a 12.9-inch Microsoft Surface killer will be the big gun in that battle.
Apple’s end game for the corporate board room isn’t really clear yet. That’s not surprising – I’m not sure anyone anticipated quite how popular iOS would be but the combination of great hardware, an enthusiastic developer community and the rise of BYOD created a perfect storm.
Apple backed up the iPhone and iPad with some great notebooks that targeted the most influential IT users in companies. Typically, computer makers focussed on the IT department, selling their wares by touting better speeds and feeds. Apple took a completely different approach and had CEOs, CFOs, CMOs and other execs reaching for their iPads in the boardroom and forcing traditional IT departments to completely flip the way they chose and deployed hardware and applications.
The halo effect that lead a resurgence in the Mac as new Apple customers began their journey with an iPod has been repeated with the iPhone and iPad driving enterprise Mac sales. And the new MacBook is clearly focussed on traveling execs who want a fast, light notebook.
So, what will the iPad Pro do?
Take the usability of iOS, the massive number of enterprise apps available for the platform, and the desire for an integrated keyboard and stylus and you have a recipe that will, once again, pit Apple’s team in Cupertino with their northern neighbours at the Microsoft campus in Seattle.
It’s iPad Pro in the blue corner and Microsoft Surface in the red corner.
It wasn’t so long ago, as we travelled, that airport lounges were completely dominated by iPads. But recently, we’ve seen an increasing number of the latest Surface devices in use. Many schools have either shifted away from widespread use of iPads and are only using iPads in particular contexts with the Surface Pro elbowing its way into schools.
The iPad Pro will change that discussion once again.
There’s no doubt in our mind that the iPad Pro is very much a corporate play. And, although it’s likely been in development for some time – possibly years as Apple rarely rushes a product to market these days – the timing of its release is no doubt driven by the surging popularity of the Surface and Windows 10.