Apple is all about lust-worthy and drool-worthy products. With the exception of the Mac notebook line (clearly, differentiation is a problem there), Apple’s products are easily differentiated one from another. That’s by design.
How so? Back in 2010 when Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, it was parked clearly between iPhone and Mac. Apple wanted customers to buy all three. We did. We still do. But the line between the high end iPad Pro and low-end, entry-level Mac notebooks has blurred.
Keyboard, Meet Touchscreen
After missing the mobile revolution Microsoft decided to double down on Windows with its own line of touchscreen Surface notebook tablet hybrids. No, Microsoft doesn’t sell as many of the Surface PCs as Apple does Mac and iPad but the touchscreen PC has become a standard even if most customers don’t use it as a tablet.
Despite some overlap in capability, a tablet is a table as defined by iPad. A personal computer of the notebook variety is defined by a Mac. How so? What do most Windows-based PCs look like these days? A Mac.
As much as I would appreciate a touchscreen on a Mac and some touch capability built into macOS, lack of either one has not inhibited my Mac usage. I slave over a hot keyboard all day, every day. Yet, as a certified Apple watcher and customer, I have an iPad Pro with a keyboard. The keyboard is good for quick text entry where the onscreen keyboard runs afoul of efficiency. Otherwise, iPad Pro is more of a content consumption device than the Mac, which is more of a get-things-done device.
The difference between, say, a new MacBook Air at $1,199 and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro for $1,348 with Apple’s Folio keyboard isn’t $150. It isn’t the vast array of iOS apps on the App Store.
The differences are obvious to those who, 1) prefer keyboard entry, which includes shortcuts to reaching out with finger, hand, wrist, arm, and shoulder just to navigate, and, 2) prefer to use applications which have no iOS counterpart (Office is more usable on the Mac; try editing a spreadsheet with your finger; and, does anybody believe Photoshop or Illustrator will be as precise to use on iPad Pro as with mouse on a Mac?), and 3) touchscreens are not so good when using a keyboard.
What about mobility? An iPad is slightly more mobile than a Mac notebook (much easier to handle on a lap; so maybe that’s why Apple calls the Mac a notebook and not a laptop), but add a Smart Keyboard Folio to an iPad Pro, and suddenly the tablet has become more expensive than a Mac, weighs about the same, and has more parts to carry around.
Anybody else see a problem there?
Some say the Mac and iPad are on a collision course. Some say they will merge capability as Apple’s own chip designs exceed Intel Inside. Maybe so. Maybe not. But let’s understand how product marketing enters into such relationships. Does Apple want customers to buy only a Mac? Or, only an iPad? No. Differentiation is the key to ensuring that Apple’s customers will buy both.