The biggest news out of today’s press releases from Apple is probably the new 9.7-inch iPad.
Tech wise, it’s more or less an upgraded iPad Air 2. It comes with a A9 processor, 8 MP cameras and 10-hour battery life. None of Apple’s Pro features are here. It doesn’t support the Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil or include that fancy four-speaker sound system.
The price is decidedly un-Pro, as well. At $329, the 32 GB model a full $270 cheaper than the 9.7″ iPad Pro with the same storage space, and that’s before the extra $248 the Smart Keyboard and Pencil will set you back.
In short, this is a cheap full-sized iPad, and I think that’s the point. Schools (who will undoubtedly pay less than retail price) are going to like this. Parents looking for a tablet for their kids are going to like this, especially now that the only iPad mini for sale runs $399.
This goes beyond schools and families, though. Just look at how Apple is pitching this device on its website:
Learn, play, surf, create. iPad gives you the incredible display, performance, and apps to do what you love to do. Anywhere. Easily. Magically.
Compare that language with this, from the iPad Pro webpage:
Super. Computer. In two sizes.
iPad Pro is more than the next generation of iPad — it’s an uncompromising vision of personal computing for the modern world. It puts incredible power that leaps past most portable PCs at your fingertips. It makes even complex work as natural as touching, swiping, or writing with a pencil. And whether you choose the 12.9-inch model or the 9.7-inch model, iPad Pro is more capable, versatile, and portable than anything that’s come before. In a word, super.
This is the iPad for the large group of consumers not interested in turning their iPads into their work machines. These people don’t care about Workflow or advanced multitasking or Swift Playgrounds. For the masses who are still streaming Netflix and checking Facebook on iPad 2s and 3s, this new price may finally be enough to lure them back into the Apple Store.
For the first time, getting a cheap iPad doesn’t mean buying one that’s been on sale for a couple of years already.
The decision is pretty clear now. Want something for games and for light tasks? Buy an iPad.
Need a keyboard or Pencil with as much power as you can stuff into a tablet? Buy the iPad Pro.
Apple’s tinkered with their business philosophy surrounding the iPad for years now. I think this one may finally stick.