Apple has started selling the capacious new 128GB iPad, the latest update to its fourth-generation Retina Display-sporting tablet design. The 9.7-inch iPad is pulling away from its 7.9-inch younger sibling, desperately crying out “I'm different!” with a flash storage bump. But more importantly, it's also narrowing the perceived gap between itself and competitors like Microsoft's Surface Pro.
The Surface Pro, an iPad competitor? Nay, you say. Microsoft's computer is a computer, running a full-fledged desktop OS capable of running powerful apps like Photoshop and more, powered by an Intel Core i5 processor. It, too, comes equipped with up to 128GB of storage, features a number of input and output ports, and has a fancy stylus for handwriting.
But the iPad is not, nor has it ever been, in direct competition with incumbent devices running Windows software. In fact, the iPad has made its enterprise progress in spite of not being able to do all those things the Surface Pro is trumpeting about. People seeking out the Apple tablet for business use aren't doing so because it has full Windows software support – it doesn't. They're doing it because what Apple does provide is conducive to changing practices in the workplace and new ways of getting things done.
The Surface Pro is a device that could potentially hold a lot of appeal for users who are stuck on legacy systems in workplaces where there's little flexibility for switching to entirely new platforms, but for the crowd already eager for hardware innovation, the iPad will remain an attractive option. And with the introduction of iPads with much improved storage capacity, at prices that, while expensive, still come in under their Surface Pro equivalents, with double the battery life and a lot more actual usable space.
Apple's 128GB iPad, timed for sale as it is just under one week ahead of the Surface Pro's official launch, was not planned coincidentally. But it's also an indication that Apple doesn't seem all that scared of what Microsoft is putting out there: they've taken the one spec they suspect could actually matter to their prospective enterprise and education customers and matched it (on paper, and exceeded it in practice). Let's see if that's enough to cut Redmond off at the knees in terms of its attempt to take the wind out of Apple's enterprise sails.