Apple wants you to believe that the iPad isn't just a tablet, but the future of the computer. Are they on to something?
The consumer electronics giant now sells iPads with the “Pro” branding, starting at $599 and ranging in price to $1,229. That jumps to a laptop-like $748 and $1,398, respectively, if you opt for the Smart Keyboard. In marketing terms that means Apple is upping its tablet game to appeal to laptop users. And to make the iPad Pro as appealing as possible, the Smart Keyboard option can, theoretically, turn the iPad into a laptop.
Over the past couple of weeks, Apple has been revving up its push to win over PC consumers and business users alike.
This week Apple started running an iPad Pro ad entitled "What's a computer?" The answer: "Just when you think you know what a computer is, you see a keyboard that can…get out of the way. And a screen you can touch and even write on."
So, the computer of the future has a keyboard. But that’s just one of several options for data input. That thinking hasn't been lost on Microsoft, which has been aggressively promoting its tablet-laptop hybrid Surface products for years.
But with two iPad Pro models on the market – the 9.7- and 12.9-inch – Apple is pushing harder to redefine the personal computer paradigm. And CEO Tim Cook has been one of the biggest cheerleaders.
"The iPad Pro is the...ultimate replacement device for customers switching from PC notebooks," Cook said last week in Apple's earnings conference call, repeating what seems to be a new mantra. Last year, he told the Independent that “I’m travelling with the iPad Pro and other than the iPhone it’s the only product I’ve got.”
"Apple goes where their bread is buttered. The future is in iPad and mobile devices," Jerry Zigmont, owner of MacWorks and an authorized Apple Consultant, told FoxNews.com.
But does that mean that Apple is going to give up the MacBook? No, says Daniel Matte, an analyst at market researcher Canalys.
"I feel very confident that Apple is far from done advancing and pushing Macs," he said in an email.
"While the iPad and iPad Pro can very much replace a traditional PC for many people, maybe even most, they will probably never be a complete replacement for the PC. There is inherent value to a Mac with a mouse and keyboard," he said.
Evidence of Apple's continued commitment to the laptop is the 12-inch MacBook, introduced last year. "The new 12 [inch] MacBooks are a strong hint as to where Apple is taking the Mac," Matte added.
Hurdles for the iPad Pro as a complete laptop replacement
Personally, I'm lucky because I can work in both paradigms. I use both the 12-inch MacBook and 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard interchangeably every day. A lot can be said for a traditional clamshell laptop with a fixed keyboard and a trackpad, and the precision of the mouse and keyboard can’t be overstated. And editing tools, for example, are still heavily skewed toward traditional laptops. Not to mention, the majority of mainstream "productivity" (aka, work) applications favor the precision of the mouse/keyboard.
That said, the iPad Pro is more versatile because of its touch-screen (and option for pen input), and I find myself using the Pro and the Smart Keyboard more every month. Will the day ever come when I put down my MacBook for good? That depends on what Tim Cook and Apple dream up in the future.