Tim Cook may prefer the term “professional users” to “corporate” or even “business” customers, but there was little doubt Apple’s launch of a new iPad Pro and MacBook Air on Tuesday was aimed squarely at the enterprise.
Apple launched the updated MacBook Air, iPad Pro as well as a new Mini from a theater in Brooklyn, suggesting an affinity with those employed in creative professions (even if that means working at an agency that specializes in B2B marketing). Cook, Apple’s CEO, emphasized that while professional users inspired many of the new features and capabilities in the hardware refresh, they were meant to be enjoyed by everyone.
Last updated in 2015, highlights of the new MacBook Air include the addition of TouchID to unlock the device, while a T2 security chip will check to make sure software loaded during the boot process has not been tampered with. With an SSD controller and on-the-fly data encryption, Cook said customers — particularly those in the enterprise — “can feel confident their data is safe.”
The updated MacBook Air will also feature a camera at the top of the screen to allow group FaceTime sessions for those who want to collaborate, and a “butterfly mechanism” in the keyboard is intended to offer four times more stability than the previous model. Overall, the latest MacBook Air will be 10 per cent thinner and will weigh a quarter pound lighter at 2.75 lbs. The devices will also be completely made with aluminum in recognition of the environmental consequences of IT hardware manufacturing.
The iPad Pro, meanwhile, can use FaceID for authentication and will introduce USB-C instead of its own Lightning connector. That would make life easier for businesses who have to mix and match between cables for enterprise devices today.
According to John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice-president of hardware engineering, the iPad Pro has inherited all the gesture controls familiar to those who have used an iPhone X, as well as the ability to use its Split View to multitask between applications.
“If you need to respond to a message, there’s always plenty of room to get what you need done,” he said.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is nearly the size of an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, Ternus added.
“You really have to hold it,” he said, predicting, “Many more folks will move up to the larger size.”
While the applause heard via the Apple event livestream was loud, the reaction on social media included some concerns about the cost of the new devices. With taxes, accessories and two-year support, for instance, the $999 iPad Pro could reach nearly $3,000.
“All of Apple’s brand-new products are the best they’ve ever been … and also the most expensive they’ve ever been,” commented Shelly Palmer, a consultant based in New York, on LinkedIn.
“Even as a longtime, multi-line Apple customer, I find the price/“it-just-works” ratio less and less compelling,” wrote Jay Small, president Minneapolis-based Cordillera Digital in reply to Palmer. “Prices go up with hardware benchmark performance, but reliability and ease of use slip.”
Though only Adobe was welcomed on stage to talk about the applications for the iPad Pro, Apple has continued to form partnerships with decidedly more enterprise focus, including Salesforce and Cisco. CDW, meanwhile, has been offering a program called Apple at Work, and the Mac maker has also been fostering relationships with local integrators to help businesses make better use of its products.