Commentary

Apple Touts New Updated iPad And Mini, Boosts Prices, Too

In a cheerful event in the Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music yesterday, Apple turned its attention to a couple of long-neglected segments of its business: computers and iPads.

Following up on last month’s new iPhone and Watch rollouts, the Cupertino, Calif.-based “biggest competitor by far” to Facebook in messaging, as Mark Zuckerberg puts it, focused on updated versions of the iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini.

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In his keynote, CEO Tim Cook waxed lyrical about the iPad -- “a magical piece of glass that transforms instantly into anything you want it to be.” Apple says the new version contains the biggest changes since the device’s inception eight years ago, and “its new features play in to Apple’s mission to make the tablet more adaptable and appealing to a larger audience,” Samantha Murphy Kelly reports for CNN Business.

“The new iPad Pro is 5.9 mm thinner -- about 15% slimmer than its predecessor -- and no longer features a headphone jack or Home button. You'll need to swipe certain spots on the screen to get back to previous pages. The iPad Pro also features nearly an edge-to edge-display and rounded corners,” as well as face recognition, a USB-C port and the ability to charge an iPhone, Kelly continues.

But when you attach all the possible add-ons, it’s quite pricey. “To be clear, $2,356 is what it costs for a one-terabyte 12.6-inch iPad Pro with Pencil, Smart Keyboard and Apple Care. (We haven't included the cost of any cases or extra adapters you might need…,” writes Chris Taylor for Mashable.  

The “standout feature” of the new Air “is a higher-resolution 13-inch ‘retina’ quality screen, which features four times the pixels. Despite that power-demanding leap, Apple says the Air’s 12-hour battery life remains about the same -- and superior to the more powerful MacBook Pro that costs $100 more,” writes Geoffrey Fowler for the Washington Post.

But the Air has a bigger problem than lacking “the common USB-A style port and an SD-card reader,” Fowler continues. “It looks expensive in the competitive world of Windows PCs and Chromebooks, yet has few totally unique hardware capabilities. While the Mac operating system has many advantages and loyal fans, the Air’s improvements are mostly table stakes.”

The desktop Mac Mini “strikes a familiar look on the outside, but its support for up to 64 GB of RAM and quad-core and six-core Intel processors instantly separate it from the most recent update, launched in 2014,” writes Sean Burch  for The Wrap. It “will have up to 2 TB of storage and sport Apple’s new T2 security chip. It has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, and an HDMI and USB-A port. The 8 GB base model starts at $799 and will start shipping November 7 -- but if you get it completely tricked out, you’re looking at upwards of $4,000,” he continues.

Do you see the perpetuation of a recent theme -- namely, price escalation -- emerging?

“The new devices are likely to lift Apple’s sales from these categories over the next year. They are unlikely to alter the company’s longstanding dependence on the iPhone, though. Those devices still comprise more than 60% of Apple’s annual revenue,” writes Dan Gallagher for the Wall Street Journal.

“But, as with the iPhone, Apple also wants its supporting players to play a role in its latest effort to use higher prices to drive overall growth. All of the new devices announced Tuesday feature higher starting prices than their predecessors. The MacBook Air was Apple’s only laptop with an entry price below $1,000. The new version starts at $1,199 -- a 20% boost from the previous iteration,” Gallagher adds.

One thing that’s absolutely free? The 158 new emoji in the latest iOS update, 12.1, including one for the “drunk weirdo at the bar,” as a headline on The Verge puts it. But Megan Farokhmanesh asked her colleagues for their own takes on what has been officially dubbed “Face With Uneven Eyes and Wavy Mouth aka ‘Woozy Face.’”

In closing, let’s go with the rendition of Farokhmanesh’s co-worker, Natt: “Y’all got this all wrong. This is just the face we all make when we watch an Apple keynote, and then see the pricing announcement at the end. A MacBook Air costs how many of my firstborns, Apple!?!?”

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