If you have not heard, Apple is rumored to be working on a new 12.9″ iPad for the educational market. This new iPad is to be released in October 2014 according to PCMag.com. Samsung is also planning on 12- and 13-inch devices for that market as well.
That (Samsung planning on introducing similar devices) is one reason why Apple is doing it. The other main reason, I think, is because Apple is trying to create a new trend, just as they did with the iPhone and iPad, something that their recent products (the recent iPhone and iPad versions) and planned products (the Apple TV and the rumored iWatch) really aren’t doing or probably are going to be able to do. (I’ll explain why I think none of those aforementioned products will help Apple have a big 2014, if it has a big 2014, in a future post).
I think Apple is looking to do three things with this new iPad:
1. Try to establish a strong presence in the educational market, as the rumor says.
2. Try to take a bigger bite out of the laptop/notebook market, which would really do damage to Microsoft.
3. Try to counter the Microsoft Surface tablets, especially the Pro 2.
I say #2 because most of the laptops and notebooks that are still being produced run on Windows. Yes, Apple has MacBooks, MacBook Pros, etc., but Apple sees the future just as much as the other companies (including Microsoft) see it: There will come a point in the near future where the traditional notebook/laptop is just a chapter in a school textbook (or tablet book in all likelihood, since traditional textbooks will probably be a thing of the past in the coming decade or two). So, all makers of notebooks/laptops, including Apple, will no longer have that as a viable product line and income stream. However, Microsoft is still the predominant operating system for notebooks, so this would really take a big bite out of them than it would for Apple.
Apple (as is Samsung) is trying to accelerate the demise of the laptop/notebook by creating a larger portable tablet that can be carried around and used. Yes, it might be for the educational market at first, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple (and Samsung) both put larger tablets on the overall market if the “test” in the educational market works out well. More on the challenges facing this below.
As for saying #3, I think Apple and Samsung are both trying to come up with larger tablets that can do more “work.” Many of the complaints toward such devices as the iPad, Google Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD and HDX is that they are not very intuitive to do such tasks as creating documents and publishing them. Even writing simple emails is pretty challenging. Microsoft has, arguably, been the best at that because of the Microsoft Office Suite, something that the Microsoft Surface tablets can offer, whereas the other tablets cannot.
There’s office apps available at the App Store, Google Play, and the Appstore For Android on Amazon, but none of them really match the intuitiveness and functionality of Microsoft Office. My thinking is that Apple and Samsung are attempting to provide larger tablets that have greater processing power (which the Microsoft Surface tablets have) and greater storage capacity (Microsoft Office does take up quite a bit of room on those Surface tablets) to counter those Surface tablets both in terms of functionality and capability.
Provided this is true, and these tablets will be for the overall market in the future, the challenges that Apple and Samsung will face with the production of these tablets:
1. Can they make the tablets light enough so that you don’t feel like they are weighing you down and are a bear to carry?
2. Can they make the tablets powerful enough to handle applications (equivalent or comparable to such applications as Microsoft Office) easily that a laptop would be able to do with ease and that you would use in school or work settings?
3. Can they come up with a viable alternative office suite to Microsoft Office, or at least, come up with an agreement with Microsoft to provide Microsoft Office on their tablets? (Samsung could, being that they already have a working relationship with Microsoft for their notebooks, but the same can’t be said for Apple, Google, or Amazon).
4. Can they enable the tablets to remain cool enough so that the tablets are not only comfortable to carry while performing these applications, but also ensure that the tablets remain in good working order and not overheat? (Some Microsoft Surface Pro users who have provided reviews have complained of the tablets getting quite warm and even overheating from time to time).
These are the questions that Apple and Samsung will have to deal with as they create these new, larger, and presumably, more powerful tablets. While the educational market may be the initial staging ground for these tablets, I suspect that these larger tablets will hit the overall market in the not-too-distant future, probably either in 2015 or 2016, as both want to establish the future of the tablet as the only real “computer” you need and not any type of laptop or laptop-tablet hybrid that are still prevalent in retail and online retail outlets today.