Apple Introduces New 4″ iPhone and 9.7″ iPad Pro Models at Cupertino Event

apple cupertino eventThe Apple event that everyone expected would introduce a new 4" iPhone and a new 9.7" iPad did just that. As there was very little news regarding new products one wonders why an event was actually needed.

But the event began with a bit of corporate PR, with CEO Tim Cook reiterating the company’s stance on unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. The company also tested a marketing theme – “we want to change the world for the better” – a little more subtle than “don’t be evil” but just about as meaningless. After three years of Apple messing with publishers, from letting the Newsstand fall apart, to its pretty ragged launch of Apple News, there can’t be many publishers that are still true believers.

But Apple hammered the message home, telling the tech journalists attending at the Cupertino campus location of the company’s environmental and health related initiatives. The messaging was not subtle, but at least the achievements mentioned were impressive (especially in the area of health studies).

Once that was out of the way Apple started in on products. First was new Apple Watch bands. I couldn’t help but feel that Steve Jobs would have been embarrassed standing on stage talking about watch bands and might have just made a side comment about them. Instead, current CEO Tim Cook tried to sound excited about a new nylon watch band.

Next was the iPhone se, a new 4-inch model with updated specs. When it came time to announce its price – $399 – there was not much reaction from the tech press. $399 seems expensive because smartphones are no longer sold exclusively in the US under contract, where the buyer pays only $100 or $200, then pays the rest over time. At $399, Apple may find the new model does little to spur iPhone sales that even they say will slow this quarter.

iPhone 5se

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which was introduced next, provides iPad owners with a good opportunity to significantly upgrade their tablets. As the lifecycle of tablets has proved longer that that of smartphones, many iPad owners have tablets that are over two years old and may be looking to upgrade. At its fall event, Apple failed to introduce a new 9.7-inch model, concentrating on its larger iPad pro introduction.

This new iPad Pro has essentially the same specs as the larger iPad. But will it lead to a significant increase in sales? I doubt it, due in large part to the higher prices Apple introduced.

ipad-pro-9.7-2016

Whereas the older iPad Air 2 was priced at $499 for the base model with 16 GB (far too little), the new base model comes with 32 GB, but is now $599. The older model priced 64 GB of storage at $599.

The new model now has a 256 GB option, like the larger iPad Pro. In fact, there is so little different between the iPad Pro introduced in the fall, and the new one introduced now (other than size, of course) that one has to conclude that not introducing this new iPad last fall was likely a marketing decision, one that didn’t pan out as iPad sales tanked during the holiday, the eighth straight quarter of declining iPad sales.

The new iPad Pro goes on sales March 31, with the older iPad Air 2 having its price cut by $100.

I might be a candidate for a new iPad had Apple not chosen to kill off the Newsstand and not bother to maintain the Magazines & Newspapers category. My two existing iPads are getting a little long in the tooth, though I feel my iPad mini 2 is fairly speedy still.

But why do I need a new model? Apple has upgraded the specs – but those are features, not benefits. I now use my iPad far less often than I used to, instead using my iPhone and Macbook Pro far more often. If more and more digital books, magazines and newspapers were interactive – the direction Steve Jobs assumed publishers would go – I might need a more powerful tablet.

But I don’t sense that CEO Tim Cook, and especially iTunes czar Eddy Cue, care much about digital publishing, possibly feeling a bit burned by the government’s eBook lawsuit. Or maybe they are reacting to the major publishers who would just as well give readers unreadable PDF replicas than invest in a quality digital edition. Whatever the case may be, Apple has given designers and a few others a reason to upgrade to an iPad Pro, but that represents a tiny piece of the market.

Apple also announced that iOS 9.3 and a new update to tvOS will be released today. The latest version of the company’s mobile operating system introduces several new features:

  • Nightshift, which shifts the color to a warmer tone for better night reading
  • Notes gets new passcode protection
  • News, nothing new, but Apple claims that there are 50 million users should have gotten chuckles from the tech press were they not such a handpicked group of fanboys
  • Maps adds a ‘nearby’ feature
  • New Car Play features.
  • The Apple TV will now have folders for organizing apps
  • Siri will work with more apps, and can be used with such things as log-in names and passwords

The event marked the last product event that will be held at Apple’s current Cupertino campus theater. Both WWDC and the fall iPhone event will likely be held at Moscone in San Francisco, leaving any minor event to be held early in 2017 to occur at Apple’s new spaceship-like campus currently under construction.

Note: Early reaction to the new iPad Pro on the Apple rumor boards, usually a home for fanboys, is not positive (to say the least). The problem is that incremental hardware improvements rarely result in a price hike, and the small increase in storage is something everyone has been screaming about for a long time, accusing Apple of being stingy with storage in order to get buyers to upgrade to the next level.

reposted with permission from TNM

About D. B. Hebbard (25 Articles)
Douglas Hebbard (or if you are using D.B. Hebbard use that) is a 30+ year veteran of the newspaper and magazine publishing business, and has been publisher of the digital publishing website Talking New Media since 2010.

12 Comments on Apple Introduces New 4″ iPhone and 9.7″ iPad Pro Models at Cupertino Event

  1. Anyone else not planning to replace their iPad?

    My iPad Air works just fine, and if I knew where it was then I would definitely see no reason to replace it.

  2. I held off on the larger iPad Pro and am glad I did since they just upped the optional memory for both sizes to 256 GB. (It was only 128 before.) For me (and I think many more) it’s all about the new pencil. The reason I held off was because the Pencil was constantly backordered (for up to five weeks) until recently and then figured I might as well wait for the next announcement.

    Given that Apple had difficulty meeting demand for the Pencil (I think a manufacturing issue), which was a huge selling point for the iPad Pro, they might have held off this model to make sure they sold the bigger more expensive versions.

    You missed what I think is the most newsworthy aspect of the event, something I suspect will be talked about and argued about and then yelled about for some time. Cook and Schiller both said that this new iPad pro was… get this: A PC replacement. They emphasized that there are hundreds of millions of PC’s that haven’t been upgraded in over five years and that the new iPad Pro is perfect for them.

    This is likely to be a very controversial statement, like Jobs original statement about PC’s being trucks. I think it was very deliberately inserted into the presentations to set off arguments (like Jobs statement was deliberate). And I think it means that Apple is serious about continuing the battle to make the iPad a a replacement for laptops and even desktop computers.

    Which tells me Apple is not giving up on iPad sales or assuming they will keep trending down. I think Apple focused on Smartphones when it needed to, but now that those are leveling off, they are back on the tablet warpath. It will be interesting to see how they do with it over the next few years. And interesting that they publicly announced that their target are the owners of aging PCs. Not getting Apple fans to upgrade their old tablets, but getting old PC users to dump Windows and get an iPad Pro with a keyboard.

    • What I took from his statement was that the iPad Pro was a replacement for old, out of date PC’s.

      From my experience its a compliment. I still have to go to my Surface and my Note 12.2 when my iPad Pro can’t do something I need it to do. Luckily I bought it mainly for writing and OneNote and it handles both of those things really well.

    • Cook and Schiller both said that this new iPad pro was… get this: A PC replacement.

      I didn’t miss that detail. I’m just stunned that they’ve ported OSX over to the iPad. I’ve been wanting that for years.

      Oh, wait, it still runs iOS? Then they’re full of shit. iOS apps are still anemic knockoffs of desktop apps, and even Apple’s own apps are laughably limited in what they can do.

      And don’t even get me started on multi-tasking.

      • Nate what he said was that there were 600 million Windows PC users that haven’t upgraded in five years. He went on to say he thought it was sad. Why? I have no idea, there is nothing wrong with a five year old pc if it still gets the job done. If anything it shows the strength of the PC, not a weakness. I waited seven years when my laptop video card struggled to play a game I wanted to play. Everything else ran like a champ but games are the benchmark for me on when I need to replace something.

        But to the point, he basically said for the people on five year and older PC that iPad Pro would an upgrade. So I took that to mean he was saying the iPad Pro was better than these old, out of date PC’s. That argument to me makes absolutely no sense. Why would anyone spend near a thousand bucks for an iPad when they can spend that on a PC and still run circles around the iPad.

        Outperform a five year old Windows PC when iOS has no Desktop Apps. If they marry Mac to iOS I’d be all over that but Surface still suffers from being built to run legacy Apps that aren’t touch friendly. I’d guess that could be whats holding Apple back from making the leap.

  3. I will buy the SE. Thank you Apple for producing an affordable new iPhone.

  4. The article has the incorrect name for the new iPhone, it is called the “SE” not the 5SE.

    I have a iPad Air and I will not replace it yet. It works fine for what I use it for, i.e. reading and games, that would not be helped much by the much powerful specs in the Pro. The Apple Pencil is pretty neat, but I have little use for it.

  5. Note, anytime there is a new iPhone and/or a new iPad it demands a proper on-stage unveiling. Proper public relations is important to the brand.

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