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Apple Aims New 128 GB iPad at Professional Users

With a newfound emphasis on using the iPad for work, Apple has announced a 128 GB version of the fourth-generation iPad. The new model will cost $799 for the Wi-Fi model and $929 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model, and will be available in all the usual places on 5 February 2013.

At the hardware level, the 128 GB iPad model is easily described, merely doubling the storage capacity of the 64 GB model. What jumped out at me from Apple’s press release, however, was the company’s emphasis on using this more-capacious model for business purposes, rather than media storage. The press release leads off with a quote from Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and every day they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs. With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”

Note the position of “work” in the first list of iPad activities, and “business” in the list of customer needs. Looking back at the press releases from previous iPad announcements, I don’t see a single mention of business or professional use.

The press release continues with a paragraph pushing the business uses of the iPad and making the case that certain professional activities require significant storage space:

iPad continues to have a significant impact on business with virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global 500 currently deploying or testing iPad. Companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals all benefit from having a greater choice of storage options for iPad. The over 10 million iWork® users, and customers who rely on other incredible apps like Global Apptitude for analyzing team film and creating digital playbooks, Auria for an incredible 48 track recording system, or AutoCAD for drafting architectural and engineering drawings, also benefit greatly from having the choice of an iPad with more
storage capacity.

To drive the point home, the press release features three paragraphs of quotes from executives from Autodesk (CAD), WaveMachine Labs (multitrack recording and editing), and Global Apptitude (football playbook software).

Obviously, Apple has previously acknowledged that the iPad could be used for work, but this is the highest profile mention of that fact — perhaps we’ll see more people signing up for Joe Kissell’s “Take Control Live: Working with Your iPad” presentations now that Apple is pushing it more.

Also interesting is that the announcement is couched largely in the context of storage space, since while there are certainly examples of professional needs that require massive file sizes (CAD, audio recording and editing, and video playback among them, of course!), there are plenty of professional areas in which the iPad has either long excelled (ease-of-use, security, stability, backups, ease of updating) or never handled well at all (text input and manipulation, true multitasking, document handling, interapplication communication, and so on). We’ll be watching closely to see if Apple starts bringing some of these key professional features to future versions of iOS.

But my real question is if Apple is going to give professional iPad users the kind of respect they deserve in terms of software updates, documentation, release notes, and tech support. Yes, people everywhere have started using the iPad for business purposes, but as we ran into recently (“Pages 4.3 vs. BBEdit 10.5: How Apple Doesn’t Respect Its Users,” 26 January 2013), just because you can get your work done on an iPad now, Charlie Brown, doesn’t mean that Apple isn’t going to pull the football away from you in the future.

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