The naming scheme of the latest iPad models have caused a bit of pontification in punditry. The full sized iPad is no longer just numerically named, it’s been dubbed the iPad Air. Apple explained the designation by noting the extreme thinness and lightness of the new iPad, much like Apple’s MacBook Air laptop lineup. But because of this comparison some have taken it a step further- could the designation of Air mean that there will be a matching Pro model as there is in the MacBook lineup?
Bringing some validity to the question are the reports that Apple may be bringing a larger 12.9 inch iPad (dubbed by some as the iPad Max). There isn’t much to the rumor other than the idea that it would simply be an iPad with more screen real estate- enticing enough for some, but simply making a large screen iPad doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The cost would likely be close to that of the 11 inch MacBook Air; the only differentiating factor would be iOS versus OSX. The iPad has a wealth of Bluetooth keyboards that can be used- some even hold the iPad in clamshell mode making it appear to be a thin laptop. The larger iPad would almost certainly sport a Retina display, better than the 11 inch Air’s 1366 by 768 resolution, but would lack the full operating system’s ability to properly multitask.
To date other attempts at making tablet forms run a desktop operating system haven’t been very successful. Microsoft’s first generation of Surface tablets have been widely judged to be a commercial failure, and the second generation haven’t been widely embraced despite a huge advertising and product placement push. Third party manufacturers have tried to create new product hybrids to take advantage of Windows 8′s touch screen support, but again they haven’t been successful enough to create a new market niche. From laptops that have a detachable tablet screen, to laptops that follow older ideas of flipping or rotating the screen.
It’s not common knowledge, but there IS a tablet that sports a full installation of OSX. Modbook provides a service as much as a product- it’s Modbook Pro is a reconfigured MacBook Pro, not an original creation (thereby not violating Apple’s terms of service). The Modbook Pro’s interface is based on a Wacom pressure-sensitive stylus, but still sports just about all of the features of a proper laptop- input slots like USB, a DVD drive, and the ability to boot to Windows via Bootcamp. The Modbook Pro is a fascinating device, but it’s not an iPad replacement due to it’s thickness and weight; the device is a fringe device developed for specific users.
OSX has incorporated some of the touch-based design of iOS. The Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse has allowed Apple to incorporate the multitouch gestures of iOS, and things like Full Screen App mode and Launchpad have given OSX a very iOS feel. It wouldn’t be inconceivable to envision a device like an iPad Pro that harnesses Apple’s engineering might coupled with the software trends in its dual operating systems to try to do what Microsoft hasn’t been able to.
Apple is known for product testing a number of devices and configurations that never make it to market. The larger iPad could easily be yet another such a device. For Apple to release a product to market, it has to offer some unique value to both customers and the organization. They have some devices that overlap (the 13 inch MacBook Air and 13 inch MacBook Pro, for instance) but the devices have enough difference to not cannibalize sales. Should an iPad Pro be in the future I’d wager that it will be something other than just a larger version of what we already have.
- REVIEW: The New iPad Mini Is Nearly Perfect (AAPL) (businessinsider.com)
- The resurrected Modbook MacBook tablet gets a price (reviews.cnet.com)
- More on the iPad Pro (zacjszewczyk.com)
- Apple’s 12.9-inch Retina Display iPad Will Launch in 2014, Rumor Says (technobuffalo.com)