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Apple Is Prepping Larger iPad To Challenge Surface Pro

Forget about next week's anticipated launch of the Apple Watch or the fact that the company will be added to the select 30 companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, knocking out AT&T. Apple's latest assault on the enterprise -- a market it has largely eschewed over its 39-year history -- is said to include a new iPad which, in many ways, could appeal to the same potential users of Microsoft's Surface Pro 3.

A larger iPad has been rumored for some time now. The new device is said to include a USB 3.0 port, keyboard and mouse, according to a report in today's Wall Street Journal. At this point, according to the report (which, as usual, Apple had no comment), the company is still just considering the USB port -- a feature the late Steve Jobs was staunchly against. Apple had originally told suppliers it was looking to deliver the larger 12.9-inch iPad this quarter. Now it apparently is in the pipeline for the second half of the year.

At 12.9-inches, the new iPad would actually be slightly larger than the current Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which now sports a 12-inch form factor. It would be considerably larger than the current iPad Air, which is 9.7 inches.

Would a larger iPad with USB support, a keyboard and mouse compete with the Surface Pro 3 and other Windows-based PCs? Before jumping on me for comparing apples to oranges, keep in mind that an iPad that could let people run Office for basic work processes could appeal to numerous individuals, even if the tablets don't have the 8GB of RAM and latest Intel Core processors that the Surface Pros have.

The move makes sense for Apple, which sold a mere 21 million iPads last quarter. While Microsoft hasn't shipped a fraction of that many Surface Pros, sales are also on the rise. However, they still lack the momentum some would like to see. Certainly the new extra-large iPhone 6 Plus is cannibalizing sales of iPads so the natural way to target the tablets is toward enterprise workers. Just as the bolstered iPad will compete with Windows PCs, it also has the potential to cut into at least some sales of low-end Macs.

In the latest boost for Apple's iOS platform, the company's new enterprise partner IBM this week launched additional applications in its MobileFirst for iOS suite at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Among the new apps are Dynamic Buy for retailers, Passenger Care for companies in the travel and transportation industry and Advisor Alert for banks. Big Blue said with the launch of its latest apps, 50 customers are already using them including Air Canada, American Eagle Outfitters, Banorte, Boots UK, Citigroup and Sprint.

The rise of iOS in the enterprise may yet to have peaked. But at the same time, it's not a death knell for Windows. Microsoft's well aware of the new client device landscape and the fact that these new device types aren't going away. From my standpoint, different devices are suited for various purposes and it's nice to have both at my disposal.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/06/2015 at 11:28 AM


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