After a year or more of rumors and speculation, Apple’s (AAPL) iPad Pro is officially in stores.
The company has been unable to stop sliding iPad sales, which have hit four-year lows. Consumers are stubbornly refusing to trade in their existing iPads — which still work quite well, thank you very much — and competition from Android tablet manufacturers is fiercer than ever.
Heck, Amazon (AMZN) has already announced it will knock its best-selling Fire tablet to $34.99 for Black Friday. How do you compete with that?
So, with the consumer tablet market stagnant, Apple has turned to the business and professional market.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro — 78% larger and at $799, 60% more expensive than the iPad Air 2 — is aimed squarely at this demographic. With keyboard cover and stylus accessories, Apple is clearly hoping steal a page out of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Surface Pro book to convert some laptop owners into tablet users.
It’s questionable whether the super-sized iPad Pro will be enough to turn around Apple’s tablet business, although at least one analyst is predicting a sales surge of the high-priced device will lead to iPads accounting for 15% of AAPL revenue in 2016.
First Apple has to convince buyers they need a big tablet, then it needs to prove to them that the iPad Pro is better than the competition.
Here’s a sampling of what the iPad Pro is up against.
Super-Sized Tablets: Microsoft Surface Pro
The Surface Pro is the gold standard when it comes to big tablets aimed at the professional and corporate set.
Microsoft got off to a shaky start, but by the time the Surface Pro 3 was released, it had pretty much nailed the tablet that doubles as a laptop thing.
The Surface Pro 4 was released in October, and while the iPad Pro has a $100 price advantage, the 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 runs Windows 10 and desktop PC software, a definite plus for enterprise.
Super-Sized iPad Pro Competitors: Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2
Samsung (SSNLF) makes a huge range of tablets, so it should be no surprise they have an iPad Pro competitor.
The Galaxy NotePro 12.2 is an Android tablet and, like the iPad Pro and Surface Pro, supports a stylus and multiple open windows for multitasking.
Samsung also promotes the big Galaxy NotePRO’s KNOX enterprise security and encryption.
The company has knocked the base price to $649.99, just in time for the iPad Pro launch.
Super-Sized iPad Pro Competitors: HP Pro Slate 12
Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) has also released a number of business-focused tablets, and its latest offering is the HP Pro Slate 12.
HP says the Android-powered Pro Slate 12 is durable and drop-tested, and includes “integrated business-class hardware security.”
Notice that all these business-focused tablets, including Apple’s, stick “Pro” on the name? I’m not sure who did it first, but it seems to be pretty much a requirement now.
This 12.3-inch Pro tablet includes a Duet Pen stylus and goes for $569.
Super-Sized iPad Pro Competitors: Lenovo HORIZON 2e
Here’s an example of a tablet that takes super-sized to extremes.
The HORIZON 2e is billed as “tabletop PC” but what it boils down to is a 21.5-inch Windows tablet with a kickstand so it can be used upright when needed.
No “Pro” in this name.
Lenovo (LNVGY) is aiming it at the home PC market, touting its gaming and video-watching applications — two areas that Apple also promotes for the iPad Pro, with its Retina display, four speakers and A9X chip/Metal combination.
Super-Sized iPad Pro Competitors: Samsung Galaxy View
Finally, another entry that’s designed to head off any aspirations Apple may have had for the iPad Pro having a secondary market as an entertainment device.
Samsung just released another big tablet, and this one’s a monster: the 18.4-inch Galaxy View.
This Android tablet is aimed squarely at home users who want something … bigger. Its HD display is large enough to replace a portable TV (it comes complete with a kickstand and carrying handle).
Samsung points out the Galaxy View’s battery is good for eight hours of gaming (although who would be picking this thing up and using it on the go is beyond me) and at $599.99 it’s closer in price to the iPad Air 2 than the iPad Pro.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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