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iPad & AI – the perfect partners & a 1st for Apple

A lot hinges on Let Loose in a fortnight – Apple has high hopes!

iPad in 2024 - getting a makeover

The iPad lineup hasn’t seen any changes since October 2022 which in tech terms is an eternity. Imagine just for a moment if the iPhone were not to be refreshed for nearly two years – there would be uproar!

Now I know the two are not quite alike, but you get my point. Even with all the new developments in Apple silicon the most powerful iPad is still only running on the M2 version of their chip.

That is all set to change of course over the next few weeks & months and Apple is pretty serious about trying to drive up iPad sales as other sectors have been taking a hit. Whilst we knew that Vision Pro sales were never going to be high the sales have been even slower than they had first projected.

Originally Apple had hoped to ship around 800,000 units in its first year but that figure has been slashed virtually in half to only 400k to 500k units with sales expected to decline next year too – and that’s allowing for the fact that during that period the headset will be made available in other countries such as the U.K., Canada & Japan.

The bad(ish) news doesn’t stop there either. The wearables and home accessories markets saw an uncharacteristic dip dropping by almost $1.5 billion year-on-year while Mac sales were at best flat.

Focus on iPad

Apple seems almost resigned to the fact that Mac sales will remain in the doldrums in the wake of false pandemic highs and of course the march of Apple silicon.

If anything Apple has been guilty of hurting themselves. No one could have anticipated just how good Apple silicon and the M series of chips would be – it was a once-in-a-lifetime generation seismic shift in computing. Only now four or five after it was first unveiled is the completion starting to play catch-up with Qulacomm’s new Snapdragon X Elite for example.

The problem Apple has created for itself with the Mac is that those original M1 chipped Macs are still fast and competent. They’ve created a beast of their own making. If you bought an M1 Mac there is precious little reason for you to swap anytime soon – particularly if it was a highly spec’d example.

So with Mac sales in a little bit of a slump, Apple it would appear has decided to almost accept defeat for the time being and shower some love on their tablet. The sales figures for iPad were not great in the Q1 results either – down almost $2.5 billion.

But unlike Mac which has constantly been updated to the latest silicon with the tablets, they have some wiggle room. The new iPad lineup we are about to see is hoped to breathe some new life and excitement into the range – and spark a surge of sales.

A trick up their sleeve

The timing of the release of these devices is strange and yet perfect.

They will release four new iPads – 2 iPad Airs and 2 iPad Pros on 7th May which is only one month before WWDC. On the one hand, you could argue that it would have been better to wait until then to show off their new iPads to a guaranteed large worldwide audience.

But by having the two events they have effectively created two bites at the cherry. The clever part is that at Let Loose they can announce the new, latest hardware and then tease us by saying just wait to see what we have in store with iPadOS at WWDC. It should create a second wave of interest.

With the rumours of a new keyboard and pencil coming along with the new OLED iPad Pro, they will create a swell of interest. Is Apple finally about to unlock the potential of this device? You can rest assured that the PR team at Apple will ramp up the excitement.

They’ll try to make us focus on what we’ll be able to do when iPad meets AI and doubtless make it seem like the perfect AI partner – interactive, light and super-powerful. If they manage to pull that off and create interest in iPad even at the expense of Mac sales then it will have been a worthwhile exercise.

They will have achieved what almost seemed to be impossible and have made it sexy & desirable. There is one other trick available to Apple to drive sales too, which is that the full raft of AI features that will be announced at WWDC may only be available on the latest models – you have to admit that sounds very Apple, doesn’t it?

Touching distance

More details are coming out of the 2024 line-up as we get closer to the May release and the indications are that these iPads may mark the shift of focus to AI on their hardware from here on in.

Over the weekend stories surfaced that the new iPad Pro may well jump to M4 Apple silicon with its beefed-up neural engine making it highly AI capable. We had thought Macs would be the first devices to get M4 in an expected re-vamp late this year, but now it seems like the tablets will steal that glory.

I had decided a while back that I’d be buying the new 13-inch OLED iPad whatever – but now I’m even more excited. I could be getting into iPad at the perfect time. Apart from merely buying an iPad Pro, I could also be buying Apple’s first device aimed squarely at their vision of AI.

Ok, we’ll have to wait until June to understand what that future is to be but using the M4 chip in it sounds like a pretty serious statement of intent to me.

One problem though…

Part of Apple’s iPad hopes and dreams would have been to generate more revenue from new AI-focused apps for iPad and iPadOS 18 – but today that has hit a bit of a roadblock.

The EU’s antitrust officials have decided that iPadOS should added to the list of significant gatekeepers according to their tech regs.

Their investigation found that Apple “presents the features of a gatekeeper about iPadOS,” for the following reasons;

  • Apple’s business user numbers exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while its end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.
  • End users are locked into iPadOS. Apple leverages its large ecosystem to disincentivise end users from switching to other operating systems for tablets.
  • Business users are locked into iPadOS because of its large and commercially attractive user base, and its importance for certain use cases, such as gaming apps.

But even with this unwanted twist, Apple knows there is a chance to make iPad great – possibly better than it’s ever been.

In from the cold

iPad and the iPad range have been lost and confused for too long.

The range has become bloated and unwieldy but maybe its saviour has just come into view – AI.

The touch screen and stylus-led UI of iPad combined with its portability make it a perfect AI work tool. They can sense it as well – which must be the driver behind bringing M4 to the iPad now. That chip has been designed to be powerful enough to deal with the on-device AI that Apple is planning so placing it in the iPad this early in the year is a pretty clear sign that they feel they have something to crow about.

If you know you’ve got it right – why wait? The closer we get to May’s iPad event and WWDC in June the more intrigued and just damned right excited I’m getting.

I may just be in the right place at the right time…and iPad too!

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2 Responses

    1. Thank you, Tony – that means the world! There is plenty of content for you to work through and loads more planned! Great to hear from you…D

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