I think it’s a fine plan, and Apple would be wise to follow it. Tim Cook, are you reading Macworld? There’s more at the link, but here’s the meat of it:
Step 1: Simplify the range
I write about iPads all the time and even I find the range baffling. How the average consumer is supposed to know which is which, and how to choose the right model for their needs, is beyond me.
So here’s the plan. We simplify things. From now on, there are just two iPad sub-brands, to match those of the MacBook: the iPad Pro and the iPad Air. The Pro models are costlier, more powerful, and fuller-featured, with a wider range of premium accessories, aimed at those who want to use them for work and getting things done. The Air models are cheaper, lighter, and more portable (more on that in a bit), and aimed at those who want to check their email and watch Netflix on the sofa.
If that seems like I’m not offering enough choice, note that there will still be some size variations. Like so:
- iPad Air (8.3 inches)
- iPad Air (11 inches)
- iPad Pro (12.9 inches)
- iPad Pro (14 inches)
Again, this is to mirror the MacBook range, where the Air models come in 13- and 15-inch sizes, and the Pros in 14 and 16 inches. It’s also to preserve the iPad mini form factor, which offers something different and will now be the cheapest model in the range. Most importantly, this removes the situation where someone looking for a mid-size iPad is faced with four different models and has no obvious way to tell which is best. In this system, it’s straightforward: do you want a basic or advanced iPad? And how big does it need to be? Easy.
This means that the two just-iPads will be retired and the iPad mini will need to get a little cheaper to fill the void. (I’m thinking $399 will do nicely.) Oh, and you may have heard that Apple is reportedly working on a larger iPad Air. Don’t do it, Apple! That will only make things more confusing, and won’t be part of our imaginary revamp.
Step 2: Normalize the update cycle
From now on, all of the iPads will be updated at the same predictable time. Customers should be aware that, just as new iPhones come out every fall, there will be new iPads every spring. Or, if that’s too frequent, then it could be an 18-month cycle that alternates between spring and fall. But Apple should establish a proper upgrade cycle in 2024 and stick to it in 2025.