With the arrival of the 9.7" iPad Pro and its starting price point of $599, I began to wonder for whom is this product targeted? For starters, the new iPad Pro has many of the same features as its larger 12.9" sibling coupled with a few extra goodies, such as Apple's latest 12-megapixel iSight camera technologies, 4K video, and a higher resolution front-facing FaceTime camera. Technology aside, the answer that will – or will not – drive 9.7" iPad Pro sales is going to all about the screen size. Is it worth saving $200 to settle for a 9.7" display, or is it best to wait, save and purchase the original 12.9" iPad Pro?
I have a son who is battling this very question. He could certainly get into the iPad Pro 9.7" much sooner than saving and waiting to get the 12.9" version, but he is also an artist, and the extra screen real estate is likely to make a big difference over time. The questions for him are, how big a difference, and will he regret the smaller screen once he purchases it? If he purchases it?
The move may be more of one targeted towards the educational market than one might think. ChromeBooks are dominating the educational markets, as they are cheap and easy to replace. Apple's only hedge against them are iPads in ability and price. The K-6 market just received a healthy cost reduction in the iPad Air 2 (now just $399), before the educational buying season, while higher education markets with scientific and creative needs could stretch their budget with more 9.7" iPad Pro sales, instead of fewer 12.9" iPad Pros.
This may very well play out in the consumer market also. Those wanting a tablet to simply surf and video have an aggressively priced $399 iPad Air 2 to select, while those wanting a few more features and more power now have the $599 iPad Pro to move up into.
If you have been wanting an iPad Pro 12.9" the odds are you won't be moving down to the 9.7" version, as saving $200 isn't likely to be worth it in the long run while sacrificing display size. In fact, the 9.7" iPad Pro isn't likely to be a big seller outside of educational markets and a few consumers, but it did make the iPad Air 2 a very attractive buy, which just may be the reason it was launched in the first place.
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