Tim Cook says the new Apple iPad Pro could kill the PC
Five years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPad and kicked off a sea change in how people gamed, browsed the Internet, and watched video. While the iPad and the Android tablets that shipped afterwards didn’t single-handedly wreck the PC market, they definitely played a role in the decline in total sales. Now, Tim Cook thinks the iPad Pro could hammer the corporate PC the same way that the original iPad cannibalized mainstream PC sales.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Cook states that he thinks the iPad Pro obviates any need to own a corporate PC at all, saying “No, really, why would you buy one?” He continues: “Yes, the iPad Pro is a replacement for a notebook or a desktop for many, many people. They will start using it and conclude they no longer need to use anything else, other than their phones.”
Is this realistic? I think not, for multiple reasons. First, the iPad Pro starts at $799 for a 32GB model and $949 for a 128GB model with WiFi only. That’s far more expensive than the typical laptops and desktops that are mainstays in corporate America. Cook believes that the iPad Pro will appeal primarily to creative types, who will fall in love with the stylus, and music and movie consumers, who will love the powerful audio that apparently makes the iPad Pro “appear to pulsate.” Whether any movie buffs want a device that offers sonic antialiasing is an open question, and I can’t comment on whether the iPad Pro’s stylus will compare with, say, a Wacom tablet.
The Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil both cost more, at $169 and $99 respectively. That puts the baseline price for an iPad Pro at $1067 for just 32GB of storage and $1217 for a 128GB version. Microsoft’s recently launched Surface Pro 4 offers 128GB of storage, pen, and keyboard at a price of $1057, though we’ll have to wait and see how the devices’ compare in performance tests.
When the iPad debuted in 2010, there were no comparable Windows or Android devices. Now, there are — and that’s going to blunt some of the potential disruption from Apple’s new hardware. That’s not to say there’s no market for the iPad Pro — it’s going to appeal to certain customers and Apple faithful who want a device that’s big enough to serve as a PC replacement, with a larger 12.9-inch screen than what you find on a traditional iPad.
I suspect, however, that this will ultimately come down to IT support and corporate management tools. If the requisite software exists to integrate iPad Pros into existing corporate ecosystems and manage them appropriately, than we may see increased uptake. Otherwise, as Cook has said, the device will be more limited, appealing mainly to creative types.
There’s a reason that Apple is talking up the iPad Pro as a machine designed to appeal to consumers and that elusively defined “creative” audience — it wants to reinvigorate iPad sales.
This graph shows how iPad sales have slumped in recent years as consumers upgrade the devices less frequently the phones. 2014 started with a bang, but sales fell every other quarter compared to 2014. 2015 has been even worse, with first quarter sales below 2013 levels. Last quarter, Apple sold fewer iPads than in any year since 2011. None of this is to say that the iPad is in any kind of danger, but Cook would obviously like to show steady growth for the company’s tablet division, not a meandering decline.
Will it work, in the face of more determined opposition from the PC space and multiple vendors already offering hardware with similar specs? We’ll see.