Since early this year, rumors have been swirling around updates to the Apple iPad Air line. Referred to as the iPad Air Plus at first, the media quickly switched to thinking of the 12-inch-plus device as Apple’s iPad Pro. Many fans were hoping that April would bring an announcement of the supersized device, as well as an update to the iPad mini 3, which was sorely neglected in October’s rollouts.
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported this week that sources familiar with the matter could confirm that something newer may be on its way.
“Apple Inc. suppliers have been told to start production of a larger-screen iPad in the second half of this year as the U.S. tech giant wrestles with new designs and features for the enterprise market.”
Those same sources confirmed that suppliers had originally been instructed to begin manufacturing in the first quarter, but that Apple is now considering making design changes.
“Apple now is considering adding USB ports and adopting so-called USB 3.0 technology, a much faster version that promises to transfer data up to 10 times as rapidly as current USB ports, one of the people said. It is especially useful for transferring large amounts of data, such as backing up computers to USB-connected hard disks.”
At the heels of this announcement, Mashable debated just what consumers can expect at the “Spring Forward” event. They feel quite clearly that March 9 will be, as they put it, the “Apple Watch show,” but Apple has a long history of centering an event on one item, but then adding a second device later on. Mashable considers the iPad Pro a less likely announcement, however, because it’s a business-oriented product better suited to fall, when companies are planning their buying cycles. They’re hoping to see an update to Apple’s much-mocked ear-buds, now that the company has purchased the company that created the Beats headphones.
ZDNet asked whether the iPad Pro might be a case of too little, too late. After all, tablet sales have dropped off dramatically as “phablets,” devices that bridge the size gaps between phones and tablets, have become more affordable. Citing many features that already exist in Windows devices, the site concludes, “To be sure, there will be a market for the iPad Pro in the enterprise. But the degree of difficulty increases as production gets pushed.”
A USB port, a stylus, maybe a keyboard; it seems that the Apple iPad line may be headed in a direction directly opposed to what Steve Jobs originally created. There’s no way to know, of course, what the Apple founder would say about the ongoing rumors about the new iPads, but it does seem clear that the most recent iterations of the devices have pushed them closer and closer to competing with the rest of the market, instead of blazing new trails.
Would you have any use for a device as big as Apple’s iPad Pro, or do you think they’re only useful in business?