Different strokes for different folks means that it’s difficult to put pit one new Apple product against a rumored product. Alright, that said, Apple’s many critics often compare a currently shipping Apple product with something coming down the road from Google, Samsung, Microsoft, et al, that I thought it only fair to compare a currently shipping Apple product to a non-shipping, but much rumored Apple product.
How would one go about comparing a new 12-inch MacBook with an as-yet-unannounced 12.9-inch iPad Pro? Actually, it’s easy.
Both have a Retina display. Both have many tens of thousands of applications available. Both have RAM and flash storage, long battery life and underpowered CPUs, and only a single external connector port. Both devices have different but similar value propositions and capabilities, though the MacBook is a more powerful and complex solution.
In hardware, the MacBook weights barely two pounds, sports the latest Intel Broadwell Core-M CPU (meaning; underpowered battery sipper), but has 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and runs the more powerful OS X Yosemite.
I’ll need to speculate on the iPad Pro’s hardware, but this is likely; weight just over a pound, the latest Apple class of the ARM CPU family, 2GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and runs iOS 9.
What about price? For the Mac, that’s easy. $1,299 gets you one of three colors, and the aforementioned 8GB of RAM, 256GB of flash storage, but only a single USB Type-C connector port.
For the iPad Pro, not so easy, but start with the current iPad Air 2 to get a view on where pricing will go. The top of the line Air 2 comes with 2GB RAM, 128GB of flash storage and weighs in at $699; a $600 gap only partially closed by adding a decent Bluetooth iPad keyboard for, say, $100. So, $1,299 vs. $799. That’s $500 difference.
I expect an iPad Pro model with a 12.9-inch display to top out at $999 for 128GB of storage, dropping the difference between the two to a mere $300 (while recognizing the MacBook Air starts at only $899).
Will Apple include a keyboard and stylus for the iPad Pro? The former, no. The latter, yes, I think so, but Apple may have an official, extra-cost keyboard available for the iPad Pro (though the third party market seems to have that covered).
No matter how you look at it– price, weight, screen resolution, CPU power, storage, portability, usability– the MacBook is a more powerful, more capable beast, nearly as lightweight, with similar battery life, and an array of more useful applications. Why would anyone buy a larger iPad when a few hundred dollars more gets far more capacity and capability?
Again, different strokes for different folks.
Why are Apple’s iPad sales dropping? As a new product category there is not a clearly defined refresh cycle; there is for Mac and iPhone, and while iPad’s sales have dropped year-over-year, no other manufacturer makes more money on tablets than Apple, and no manufacturers tablet is used as frequently as an iPad.
What Apple could do to improve the iPad’s sales are simple. Lower prices, greater value, more capability. Unfortunately, an expensive iPad Pro isn’t likely to change Apple’s current modus operandi.