New versions of iPad Pro and iPad Air reportedly on the way, as Apple seeks to make iPad portfolio less confusing
Apple is reportedly planning a major overhaul of its iPad portfolio, as the tablet family has been described as confusing due to the sheer number of different versions and models.
Bloomberg’s noted Apple leaker Mark Gurman reported that the Apple overhaul of its iPad lineup will take place in 2024, “in an effort to boost sales and make the assortment less confusing.”
This is not the first time that a revamp has been mooted. In August it was reported that Apple was planning a major revamp of its iPad Pro for 2024, as Apple sought to shake up a moribund tablet market.
Apple’s full year 2023 results in November for example had revealed sales declines in the Apple Mac, iPads and wearables, home and accessories portfolios.
Apple recorded a 3 percent decline in iPad sales in fiscal year 2023, which fell to $28.3bn from $29.3bn in fiscal year 2022, which may explain Apple’s interest in shaking up its tablet portfolio.
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a decade ago, the iPad lineup was fairly clear: There were two main models – a big one and a little one. And the previous year’s versions were sold at a discount.
Gurman noted that over time, Apple added more options. In addition to the standard and mini iPads, there were new low-end models, a high-end Air and more powerful Pro versions – packing big screens and extra horsepower.
But Gurman argues this came at a cost and the iPad lineup has become cluttered and confusing.
“Between the various models and generations, the menu of options could bewilder even savvy consumers,” he wrote, pointing out that Apple currently sells five main iPads: the Pro, Air and Mini, as well as the ninth and 10th generations of the regular iPad.
“In some cases, the products have just marginally different screen sizes and similar features. It’s hard to know which one to pick,” he wrote. “For instance, the 11-inch iPad Pro of today is only millimeters larger than the iPad Air – and the other differences are negligible for most people. The 10th generation regular iPad, meanwhile, is nearly as good as the Air, but they’re priced $150 apart.”
According to Gurman, Apple wants to reduce the confusion between the iPad Pro and the Air.
“The Pro is set for major changes, including an OLED screen, updated design, M3 chip and revamped Magic Keyboard attachment,” he wrote. “That will make it unmistakably the highest-end model.”
He added that in terms of screen sizes, the two models will be similar – but the Pro will have slightly more real estate. The iPad Air will come in 10.9-inch and 12.9-inch configurations, while the Pro will be 11 and 13 inches. This mirrors the approach with the MacBook Air and Pro, where the latter model has a slightly larger screen.
The iPad Air will still be the model below the Pro, but it will offer two screen sizes and an M2 processor.
“As I reported this past week, the new Pro and Air models are coming around March,” he wrote. “When the 11th generation iPad is released, Apple will also phase out the ninth generation model, which still has a home button and big bezels. The iPad mini will also get a refresh later with a faster processor.”
Gurman noted that the ultimate way to simplify the iPad would be slim the portfolio down to just the iPad Pro and Air. But Apple needs a cheaper model to sell into the education market, or it risks losing more ground to Chromebooks, he noted.
And it would be hard to axe the iPad mini, as some people prefer a smaller tablet, as it is easier to hold for longer periods of time when consuming media.
“One big question is if this simplification will be enough to reinvigorate the tablet category,” Bloomberg’s Gurman wrote. “In the short term, new models at higher prices will help generate more revenue. But in the long run, an iPad comeback is anything but assured – especially when the device has to compete with touch-screen MacBooks in a few years.”