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No, Apple’s iPad Pro won’t make kids forget what a computer is

by Justin Herrick | December 9, 2017

The iPad Pro is a powerful machine. Apple reintroduced the high-end members of the iPad line earlier this year with 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch models, and it didn’t seem like the company was pivoting away from targeting professionals and designers. The iPad Pro still ships with a roomy display featuring enhanced visuals, a processor capable of tearing through any app imaginable, and a tailor-made version of iOS. If you visit the product’s page on Apple’s site, you’ll notice productivity is where the focus lies.

Something is a little different now, though. The iPad Pro appears to be going after a new demographic. Apple wants children to own its most expensive iPad.

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Just as the holidays began, the company released a new advertisement in which a young woman carries around her iPad Pro. It highlights so many areas of the iPad Pro and iOS 11 that you could lose track of it all within the first few seconds.

Using FaceTime, she video calls another friend and takes a screenshot to sign his cast. Of course she uses the Apple Pencil to leave her signature. And, thanks to the multi-window view on iOS, she drags and drops the image to iMessage. Then, later on in the day, she’s putting together an assignment using Microsoft Word, but her schoolwork takes a pause when she spots a plant to photograph. The Apple Pencil again appears when she’s drawing a very details illustration. Even the Smart Keyboard subtly gets showcased multiple times.

Nothing is wrong with the ad’s content. Apple goes through the various things an iPad Pro can help you accomplish, but it’s what the woman says at the end that’s perplexing.

Here’s the video to watch for yourself:

While laying in the grass in her backyard, a neighbor walks outside and asks a very simple question. The neighbor inquires, “What’re you doing on your computer?” She could’ve responded by saying she’s working on an assignment, messaging friends, browsing the web, or even watching TechnoBuffalo videos on YouTube. Really, anything would’ve been fine. Instead she replied with a statement only Apple could think of.

“What’s a computer?” is her courageous statement.

If you were about to apply your palm to your face, don’t bother. I’ve done that for you dozens of times already. There’s just pure ridiculousness oozing from that little question. And yet we’re totally unsurprised to see Apple to pose it. It’s 2017, and tablets are losing popularity. The iPad Pro is also a premium product while a huge number of Windows-based and Chrome OS-based products can be bought at a fraction of the cost.

We’re nowhere close to living in a time when a child doesn’t know what a computer is. Desktops and laptops still outnumber tablets in enterprise, education, and the home. The iPad Pro, given its price and limited software, won’t be showing computers the door. The world remains reliant on them to function.

Apple proclaims in the description for the ad that “a post-PC world may be closer than you think.” Not true, my friends. The tablet market is shrinking. Apple still leads the way, but shipments for the entire market have been shrinking for twelve consecutive quarters. If tablets are going to replace laptops, the Cupertino-based company might want to just discontinue the MacBook line and focus on the iPad line. Well, that’s not going to happen. Let’s be realistic here.

Also, it’s not feasible to go all-in on Apple. Price alone should be enough to tell you why the iPad Pro isn’t going to change the way we operate. Apple’s high-end models start at $649, and that’s without the Apple Pencil or Smart Keyboard. Those two accessories raise the total price to nearly $1,000.

With the discounts available to organizations buying in large quantities, there’s no reason to get an iPad Pro over a Mac or PC. Businesses need to operate effectively, so they’re ignoring the tablet since functionality is greater on desktops and laptops. Assembling reports, crunching numbers on a spreadsheet, and giving presentations is a lot easier on a traditional computer than a tablet paired with a crammed keyboard. Education recognizes this split in price and functionality, too.

School districts are looking to cheaper alternatives amid budget cuts. Unfortunately, Apple’s ecosystem is anything but cheap. While Microsoft has long dominated education with Windows, trouble looms from Google. An increasing number of school districts are switching over to Chromebooks. The hardware is astonishingly affordable, and administrators can easily manage the software on every device distributed.

Try finding a non-affluent school district in the U.S. that would choose a $649 tablet over a $200 laptop. You won’t, and that’s why Google is bound to see long-term gains in education thanks to Chrome OS’ practicality.

Apple’s tablets definitely hold advantages over computers in the classroom, though. Teachers can provide more immersive lessons on an iPad, but any school district will switch to a cheaper but comparable platform if possible. Most of them have been using desktops and laptops for years anyway, including after the iPad’s arrival.

The iPad made a name for itself in education due to portability and versatility; however, even Tim Cook’s own high school ditched Apple for Google’s Chrome OS in 2016. It’ll never be the iPad Pro taking over the majority of classrooms, and an iPad will never be alone. Computers are always going to have a presence regardless of what Apple does.

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Parents, too, are unprepared to spend a fortune for their child to have Apple’s iPad Pro. Affluent families could drop big bucks without hesitation, but maybe even they’ll consider Amazon’s Fire line, a Chromebook, or one of the countless Windows laptops on the market. Everyone else is already choosing those devices because they’re also all cheaper than the base iPad.

Apple has every right to attach large price tags to its products, but the public also has the right to say “no thanks.” And that’s what they’re doing. Businesses, school districts, and families are seemingly rejecting Apple’s strategy, which is proven in tablet shipments continued to decline. If the iPad line was indicating the world’s trajectory, Apple would still be seeing growth. Truth be told it is not.

Creating a post-PC world is difficult when enterprise needs versatility, education needs practicality, and families need affordability. Apple isn’t checking off any of those boxes with the iPad Pro. So the young girl roaming around town with her iPad Pro in Apple’s latest ad is living in a bubble. She or her parents can afford an iPad Pro, but she’s in denial not knowing what a computer is. They’re all around her.

Welcome to reality, Apple. Computers may have taken a hit ever since the iPad was launched more than seven years ago, but now the iPad’s turn to fight changing consumer needs has arrived.

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Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...


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