One of the biggest questions around the new iPad Pro, the new workhorse of a giant tablet from Apple, is why you wouldn’t just get a laptop at that $800-or-more price point.
There’s an easy answer: The apps.
On stage today, Apple showed off gorgeous new apps from Adobe and Microsoft, highlighting how the combination of the iPad Pro’s increased horsepower and its new stylus enables people to get more stuff done faster.
It’s a sales pitch that Microsoft has been struggling to make with Windows 10, which has made touchscreen-friendliness and stylus input a big priority. With the Windows Store, Microsoft is promising that developers can make these apps once, and sell them to desktop, Windows Phone, and tablet users from the same app store.
That strategy has been struggling largely because there’s not really a good reason for developers to make Windows 10 apps when the ones that they already made for Windows 7 or 8 run just as well on the new operating system. Plus, Microsoft has a mere 3% market share on mobile, making that part of the vision not especially compelling.
But with the iPad Pro, there’s nothing holding developers back.
If Apple’s sales pitch for a productivity tablet pans out with consumers, developers have an easy path towards upgrading their existing iPhone and iPad apps to recognize stylus input, without being beholden to their legacy apps.
That would mean a whole wave of new, exciting apps for both consumers and business users that go beyond what we think of as desktop apps.
Apple’s plan seems to already be paying off, judging just from today’s event.
Adobe, which has been dragging its heels on releasing updated Photoshop apps for Windows 10, showed three brand new apps for the iPad Pro. And Microsoft’s Office apps for the iPad Pro already look shinier in some ways than its touch-enabled apps for Windows 10.
And then, here’s the really brilliant part: If and when Apple decides to make a fully-touchscreen MacBook or iMac, it can follow in Microsoft’s footsteps and open a universal app store that works across platforms – a store that’s already stocked full of touch-enabled apps that users know and love.
All this hinges on the iPad Pro vision resonating with consumers, because that’s what will compel developers to make apps especially for the iPad Pro.
But given that Microsoft has had success with the Surface Pro tablet among consumers and enterprises alike, there’s every indication that Apple could turn it into a smash.