Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook was in London town spruiking his latest toy in an interview with the Independent magazine.
Cook has been emphatic the iPad Pro, with its massive 12-inch screen, miniscule RISC smartphone processor, integrated keyboard cover, running the iOS 9.x smartphone and tablet operating system, is not just an oversized tablet but a notebook computer replacement.
According to Cook, the only Apple products he took on his trip were the iPad Pro and his iPhone. Surely not! No Apple Watch? Perhaps the Independent is not so independent to let him get away with that one. However, he does appear to be wearing a watch - no doubt an Apple Watch - in the publicity pic accompanying the article. However, I digress.
Cook points out that the iPad Pro’s design coupled with amazing apps developed by software companies, such as UK-based Touchpress, will open up an amazing world of touchy-feely goodness. It will enable users to play piano without a real piano, sketch amazing drawings using the attached ‘pencil’ without a real pencil and sketch pad, and play scintillating, thigh slapping games.
As for real work that we all do on our computers - well, as John Gage of Sun Micrososystems famously said, the network is the computer.
Except, as anyone who uses a computer for real work (not CEOs) will tell you, the network is NOT the computer - at least not yet. It’s not the computer if you want to keep your information stored locally. It’s not the computer if you have a slow Internet connection or, worse, no Internet connection.
And it’s certainly not the computer if you happen to be a power user that needs to perform significant multi-tasking operations.
For Apple, which these days makes the lion’s share of its profits from iPhones, iPads, and other consumer oriented devices and accessories, the move to marginalise its Mac business makes perfect sense.
After all, who needs to make and sell expensive computers that are so good that people hang on to them for five to ten years? Better to replace them with cheap products that can be bought on a plan and which people need to replace every two or three years.
Except in the case of the iPad Pro, it’s not cheap. In Australia, an iPad Pro will cost anywhere from A$1249 to more than A$2,000 - depending on the model and accessories. And in most cases, unlike the iPhone, users will not be buying them on plans.
In fact, pricing is in the same ball park as the MacBook Pro range. This means that Apple is asking its users to sacrifice the far superior computing power of the Mac for the form factor of the iPad Pro. And therein lies the crunch. Will users pass on buying Macs (or PCs) for an expensive underpowered, oversized iPad? Probably not.
If Apple is serious about getting users to replace their Macs with the iPad Pro, then why not go the whole hog and spin the Mac business off in an IPO? At least then, we would start to see real development of the product line again. But that’s another story.