Comment on new iPads: Apple, I don’t understand you

Huge price increases, entry-level iPads sometimes better than the iPad Pro: Apple is causing confusion with its new tablets. Strategy or bad management?

iPad overview: Confused yet? (Image: Apple)

In any case, the introduction of the new iPads this week was extremely “low key”: On Tuesday afternoon, the Apple Online Store went offline for several hours before the new devices were announced after 5 p.m. via website update and press release. Observers had previously suspected that Apple would not hold its own event for the new tablets. And that’s how it happened.

It’s also fair to say that Apple did well not to host its own iPad keynote. Because the devices that can be seen there are either rather uninteresting or so confusing in their design that they cause more frustration than pleasure for many interested parties. Was that intentional or is it bad Apple management? Is it perhaps simply the aftermath of the Corona crisis, as a colleague suspects?

Let’s take a look at this strange line-up. First, there is the “highlight”, Apple’s new tenth-generation iPad. It ensures that, after an actual eternity, the company’s entry-level tablet finally has a (relatively) up-to-date design. The hardware is sort of an iPad Air 4 (same A14 SoC), trimmed in one way but boasting more modern tech in another. This creates an extremely confusing feeling for the potential buyer.

For example, Apple installs desired functions such as a camera that is correctly placed in landscape format, which is not even available on the iPad Pro. The Magic Keyboard Folio keyboard with the trackpad (which can also be purchased for 300 euros) has a function key bar (with an Escape key!), which the iPad Pro variant still lacks. At the same time, Apple is annoying with an Apple Pencil 1 obligation, an ancient pen that even needs a completely crazy Lightning to USB-C adapter for the iPad 10.

While the iPad 10 can be found interesting – especially because of said modern functions – and it could find many customers despite the price increase (starting at 579 euros), the iPad Pro M2 is a complete disaster. Yes, one has to ask oneself here whether Apple wants to make fun of its customers. The only innovations in the hardware are two things: 1. The M2 SoC, which is comparatively moderately faster, and 2. a “hover” function for the Apple Pencil 2, which allows for more pleasant drawing and/or operation.

There is no change in camera orientation, no new Magic Keyboard with function keys, and not even a mini LED display for the 11-inch version of the iPad Pro M2. MagSafe is absent, as is a new Smart Connector. The only “gift” are gigantic price increases. You can now pay an unbelievable 3024 euros for the maximum configuration with 2 TB and a 12.9-inch display. Apple is once again taking flash storage as a differentiator. But even the entry-level model has become more expensive – now at 1049 euros.

So you seriously have to ask yourself who the iPad Pro M2 is intended for. People who absolutely want an iPad Pro are better advised to get the much cheaper previous version with the M1 chip from last year. The differences are so small that the M2 is simply not worth it in my opinion. It was clear that the M2 SoC would not be a revolution like the M1. But the fact that Apple doesn’t even provide the rest of the hardware with smaller goodies is downright outrageous.

At the same time, Apple has also made its older iPads more expensive. This can be attributed to the poor euro exchange rate and inflation, but the decision ultimately rests with Apple. Fortunately, there is a way out here, to look around in free trade, which is always cheaper than the manufacturer anyway with the old goods.

Bottom Line: Apple’s iPad product line hasn’t been this unbalanced to the point of confusion for customers in a long time. The iPad 10 and iPad Air 5 are – apart from the different inner workings, a somewhat inferior display, and the pencil support – extremely close to each other. The iPad Pro M2 is not a recommendation due to its price and low novelty value. With this line-up, a good question is how Apple intends to continue to make the tablet business of the Corona period, which has been going very well in the meantime, a success. The only management strategy that can be seen behind it: users should buy more expensive devices. But what if it’s not worth it?


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