Welcome the iPad Pro
Claims that Apple plans an iPad Pro have been around for some time, but with iOS 8 and the new A8 processor to drive the device, such a release only now makes sense.
iOS 8 introduces support for split-screen multitasking. This has been a much-requested feature but Apple clearly didn’t think its tablets were inherently powerful enough to support this effectively. The power, graphics and application processor demands of larger tablets mean those competing devices that offer this are severely performance constrained and have failed to set the world on fire.
The next breed of iPads use the new A8-series processor. This is expected to be significantly faster and more power efficient than before. In combination with up to 2MB installed RAM and lots of storage, the 64-bit iOS 8 will be a high performance mobile OS – not quite a Mac, but getting closer. One Apple watcher believes the new processor may hit 2.6GHz per core.
Apple’s recent deal with IBM is also relevant. Apple knows a high performance mobile device capable of split-screen multitasking and equipped with a larger display will attract education and enterprise customers.
This is particularly true in some of the industry verticals Apple is chasing with its IBM deal: medical and sci-tech, construction, oil and gas and financial services all use powerful enterprise software solutions ideal for larger displays.
Consumer markets too
Apple will (allegedly) launch the device in early 2015. This should help it change iPad’s feast and famine sales pattern. iPad sales reached 26 million in Q1 but declined to 13 million by Q3, not abysmal but it makes sense for the company to maintain more consistent sales pattern across the year.
iPads are also consumer devices. The main tasks consumers use them for (after surfing the web and handling email) are playing games and watching video. A faster processor, more memory and larger display have to make sense to the millions who already love their iPads but mainly use them for movies and games.
That’s even before you consider how future Apple TV improvements could be extended to other iOS devices – all those TV channels creating Apple TV apps, for example.
A final thought: Apple has been pretty quiet when it comes to product releases across the last couple of years. I believe it has been working to combine its different Mac and mobile product lines within a strong, cohesive, universal platform. This is certainly what Continuity suggests. While I think all these reasons will be part of Apple’s justification to build out its range, they are not the only reasons the company has. Next stop? ARM-based Macs? Why ever not? Under Tim Cook, Apple has been working to translate its market advantages into foundations for future product evolution. And the best is yet to come.