Kill the PC? The new iPad Pro probably won’t even save Apple’s tablet line

At a special launch event on Monday, Apple launched a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It’s certainly an impressive device — as Apple’s Phil Schiller noted on the day, it has plenty of “grunt” — but is it the device to convince PC owners to move away from their clunky Windows machines?

During the event, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller pointed out that there are around 600-million people using Windows PCs that are more than five years old. “This is really sad,” he said.

The bigwigs at Apple might believe that’s the case, but I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m not entirely certain that new iPad Pro, promising as it is, can even rescue the Cupertino giant’s flagging iPad sales.

Before I explain why that’s the case though, it’s worth taking a closer look at the new, smaller iPad Pro. A return to original screen size of the iPad, the new iPad Pro is the first to come in rose-gold, features Apple’s A9X processor, is 40% less reflective than the iPad Air 2, and is compatible with all of Apple’s iPad accessories, including the Pencil.

There’s a whole lot of other stuff too, but we’ll it to our colleagues over at Gearburn to tell you about those. The other important thing to remember for the purposes of this article, is that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at US$599 for the 32GB model, going up to US$899 for the 256GB version.

And that’s where the iPad Pro’s plan to kill the PC starts to fall apart a little.


So here’s the thing about those 600-million PC users Apple thinks are so sad. They’re not choosing not to upgrade because they’ve been waiting for Apple to come along with the perfect device, just for them. Some of them might be aging technophobes resistant to change, but I’d wager that a great many of those PC users simply can’t afford to drop anywhere from R9100 to R13674 on a new device. And even if they can, there’s bound to be more than a few who don’t see why they should.

My work PC is nearly five-years-old, runs Windows 10, and does absolutely everything I need it to. And if it needs to be upgraded, components can be bought for hundreds of rands, rather than thousands.

However much Schiller might protest that PCs were built for an era before the internet, social networking, and apps, they’re still perfectly capable of doing all those things. And unlike the iPad Pro, you don’t need to buy a boatload of over-priced accessories for it to do all heavy-lifting stuff PCs do out of the box.

The iPad problem

The problem of people not needing to upgrade isn’t confined to PC users either. Even Apple’s most loyal customers increasingly can’t see any reason to upgrade their existing iPads. During the first financial quarter of 2016, Apple only sold 16.1-million iPads, compared to 21.4 million in the same quarter in the year 2015.

the thing is, as long as Apple allows iPad users to keep upgrading to the latest version of iOS, they’re not going to really see much point in upgrading. Whatever advances are made in the hardware, the stuff we do on tablets hasn’t changed dramatically enough to warrant a constant cycle of upgrades. And as phones have become bigger, so tablets have increasingly become devices that we leave at home. That in turn means, they’re less likely to be seen, resulting in less pressure to upgrade. Small wonder then that as late as November 2015, the iPad 2 was the most used of all Apple’s iPads.

Sure the new iPad Pro will sell, but it’s hardly likely that it’ll do record numbers. Far more likely is that Apple’s take on the Microsoft Surface will be just another marker on the iPad’s continuing cycle of decline.

Don’t get us wrong: the PC isn’t about to experience a miraculous comeback, but a smaller iPad Pro does not represent its death-knell.



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