At an anticipated March 15 event, Apple will grow its iPad Pro line to include a new 9.7-inch model, according to a report in 9to5Mac. With overall iPad sales slowing, more Pro options will help Apple with its still-growing enterprise business.
The change -- extending the iPad Pro line to include 9.7 and 12.9-inch models -- will continue on a trend Apple exhibited with its MacBook Pro, which comes in 13- and 15-inch options, the report noted.
iPad sales are down -- Apple sold 16.1 million during its fiscal 2016 first quarter, compared to 21.4 million a year earlier -- and an additional iPad Pro would help with enterprise sales, which continue to be a bright spot for Apple.
During the same quarter, Apple added 25 new partners to its mobility partner program, pushing its total past 90, CEO Tim Cook said during Apple's Jan. 26 earnings call. Offering an example, he said Eli Lilly had switched 15,000 field-based workers form laptops to the iPad Pro.
"Our enterprise initiatives continue to expand," Cook added, noting that there are now more than 100 IBM MobileFirst apps in the iOS catalog for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
During its September 2015 event, Apple introduced its first iPad Pro, which features a 12.9-inch Retina display and, at 5.6 million, the most pixels ever in an iOS device. Apple paired the tablet's enormous display, which it calls the most advanced display it has ever made -- with another first, the Apple Pencil. This "precision input device" (no stylus here) aids in creative tasks, like sketching and coloring, but also makes for more mistake-free input in Mail, Notes, and Office 365 for iPad.
Rounding out its new accessories line, with the iPad Pro it also introduced a smart keyboard -- a sold-separately item that doubles as a Smart Cover and pairs via a Smart Connector port.
While the Pencil is priced at $99 and the Smart Keyboard at $169, they were in short supply ahead of the holidays and popped up on eBay for prices ranging up to $500 and $650, respectively.
The iPad Pro became available in the US and 40 other countries Nov. 9. Cook said during the January earnings call that it was "extremely well received."
The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is expected to be nearly identical to the larger version, boasting an A9X processor and a RAM upgrade, according to the 9to5Mac report, and expected to receive its own Smart Keyboard, Pencil, and Smart Connector port.
The report added that Apple is slowing down production of the older iPad mini and original iPad Air. The latter, as well as the iPad mini 2, are likely to be discontinued with the introduction of the newest iPad Pro.
It's also expected that Apple will show off an iPad Air 3, an iPhone 5se, and new strap options for the Apple Watch.
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Michelle Maisto is a writer, a reader, a plotter, a cook, and a thinker whose career has revolved around food and technology. She has been, among other things, the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise Magazine, a reporter on consumer mobile products and wireless networks for ... View Full Bio
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