The sense of making an iPad Pro

I guess by now almost everybody heard the rumors about an iPad Pro (or iPad HD), which could be released by Apple this fall and among other things would feature a “high-resolution” (presumably 2048 x 1536 pixels) display. Recently there was another spike of articles concerning this device, like an article at Display Blog from Jin Kim. Quoting the mentioned article, John Gruber from Daring Fireball makes a very good remark, which has the part about the sense of making this iPad Pro from the perspective of Apple. John sums up that “So even if Apple could do a retina-display iPad this year, I’m not sure there’s any reason they should.”, but I disagree with this statement.

Like John, I do believe that Apple could certainly engineer and produce a high-performance variant of iPad, which can include a display with a “Retina-display” grade resolution. And I think there certainly can be found a sense of making one, from the perspective of Apple. If his remark, John makes a good statement that “But Apple still can’t make the existing iPads fast enough, and none of their competitors on the market seem to be making any dent in the market.”, but the truth is that the said was also true for the original iPad! Demand for the original iPad was significantly higher than supply and Apple could delay the iPad 2, still selling the original iPad like hot cakes for another 6 to 12 month, not really caring about “competitors”, but it didn’t.

Yes, the iPad 2 was a good update to a good product, but it really wasn’t that necessary, nor did the original iPad suffer from competition. So why can’t this iPad Pro be like that? Is it absolutely necessary to release? Nope, but releasing it has some logic:

Splitting up the demand. The demand for the iPad 2 is incredible and it’s hard to meet it for various reasons, one of which is that the suppliers can’t make enough components, like displays. Adding a new variant of the product will certainly divert some of this demand (presumably the demand from creative professionals) to a more expensive high-performance model, freeing up supply of the ordinary iPad 2 to more regular customers. This way the new model will help to meet the demand for Apple tablets.

Expanding the iOS ecosystem. Since Apple clearly sees tablets as post-PC devices and believes that they are the future, it could be wise to make iOS slightly more capable, e.g. focused at creative work, which in many cases would require more capable hardware. Just think of something like Aperture or Final Cut Express on an iPad Pro — yes, the majority of people wouldn’t need them or the hardware that’s necessary to run those kind of applications, but it would be a right step in making iOS a more mature “work” platform.

Deploying future iPad technology at a more easy pace. When designing new products, Apple is constantly bound by capabilities of their suppliers, an excellent example of which are AMOLED screens — the main reason why Apple doesn’t currently use them (and probably won’t any time soon) is that Samsung couldn’t, can’t and probably won’t be able to supply enough of them for Apple even in the future. Problems like this are very hard to deal with, especially when you need something, that wasn’t widely used (and produced) before, like high-resolution screens in the iPhone 4. So by first implementing a Retina-display in the iPad Pro (which obviously would be a less high-volume product, that a regular iPad) Apple could easy wait for it’s suppliers to ramp-up production in year or two, before installing Retina-displays in regular iPads.

Will Apple really release an iPad Pro this fall? Who knows, but you can certainly find some logic in doing so. But logic isn’t the only thing you have to consider, it’s quite possible that a such product wouldn’t be commercially viable now namely it will be released some time in the future.

Thoughts on tech