iPad Pro: Analysts anticipate a tablet hybrid

iPad Pro? Is Apple creating a hybrid tablet and laptop? A recent forecasting report from an analyst indicates that an iPad Pro could be on the Apple release menu for fall 2014.

The new Retina MacBook gets a price-cut and a slim-down. The laptop now has a thickness of 0.71 inches and a weight of 3.46 pounds.

Apple customers could be getting a custom-designed Mac Book/iPad combination in 2014. Rumors call it the iPad Pro.

A report by Patrick Wang, an analyst at investment banking advisory firm Evercore Partner, predicts that Apple will release a hybrid iPad MacBook that will be focused on using in-house processing chips to meet the demands of business users, according to Barron’s.

“Arriving in fall ‘14, Apple goes Enterprise with an 12” iPad. Powered by the A8 chip (perhaps 4C), this expands ARM’s reach and, once again, transforms the traditional notebook market as we know it,” writes Mr. Wang, according to Barron’s. “Expect a 2-1 hybrid – think iPad + [MacBook Air] – similar to how most iPads are used in the workplace and in the same spirit of [Microsoft’s] Surface.”

That reference to Microsoft is a key indicator to explaining why Apple may aim to capture business consumers. Up until now, Microsoft still has hold over many enterprise customers due to its customizable features and office-oriented software. Wang points out this could give Apple a run for its money, but could be worth it in order to cut down on expensive processors from Intel currently used to power the MacBook Air.

“Two obstacles: (1) Microsoft Office not just Office 365 and (2) local storage,” he writes. “This would hit Intel in an area of strength – enterprise [notebooks] – and open up the monopoly to price competition, a common theme for Intel in 2014.”

However, as with any rumor, we can’t be sure whether something like this is likely to come from Apple. Looking at CEO Tim Cook’s recent comments about the Microsoft Surface, which marries the light weight of a tablet and fast processing of a laptop, it wouldn’t appear that Apple is heading in that direction. For example, at an Apple event last fall, Mr. Cook did not speak highly of the hybrid Surface.

"Our competition is confused. They're turning tablets into PCs and PCs into tablets. Who knows what they're going to do next?" he said, according to Business Insider.

Whether it would be a good idea financially for Apple to move in this direction is also something to consider when looking at the Surface. This fall, Microsoft had to take a $900 million write down on the Surface after it failed to sell. However, Apple’s iPad and MacBook Air have both done considerably better on their own than many of Microsoft’s products, so perhaps a hybrid from Apple could succeed where Microsoft has struggled.

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