As was reported earlier today, Apple announced a new 128GB iPad model. The thing that was noticed most quickly by the tech media was the fact that there was a significant storage contrast between this new iPad and Microsoft’s soon-to-be-released Surface Pro tablet. The Surface comes equipped with 64GB of storage. The thing to keep in mind is that all operating systems have a footprint; they will take up some storage space. To Apple’s credit, iOS has a relatively small footprint (under 1GB), whereas Windows 8 on the Surface pro, takes up an astounding amount of storage space.
For instance, the 128GB Surface Pro will only have 83GB of free storage available to user. The 64GB model has even less- only 23GB for customer use. So, by necessity, the Surface Pro has to have a large amount of storage. More insidious, is the fact that Microsoft does not make it very clear that user storage is significantly reduced by the OS. Granted, I’ve always thought that manufacturers should be more honest about actual storage space available to the end-user, and not what sounds more impressive in advertising. But on the other end, having a 16GB iPad that has 14GB available to the end-user sure beats a 128GB Surface Pro with only 2/3 that available to the end user.
That leads us to why someone would need a 128GB iPad. The iPad inherently has more of it’s storage available to the end-user, so a bump in storage isn’t elevating a problem caused by bloated software here. No, I think it’s a little more simple than that. There are pro users out there, who prefer the iPad over other means of computing. Yes, you could get an MacBook Air for just a little bit more, but many prefer to work on the iPad, and they want one with more storage. Apple is filling a niche. Plus, another even more obvious answer is that some customers want to carry most of their music and movies around with them on their iPad. For these people they now have their device.
Sure, some will claim that this is a competitive move just for the sake of competitiveness, which is true. But it is not the sole reason. Apple timed this to interfere with Microsoft’s Surface Pro launch. Surface Pro strikes me as a bloated, slow implementation of Windows 8 on a new form factor, which may or may not stick in the market. Surface RT is far more fascinating to me, because it cuts the cord from traditional PCs, much in the same way that the iPad has done–but I digress. This was a planned introduction that will hopefully, at least from Apple’s standpoint, slow 128GB-equipped, “professional” Surface Pro from getting a foothold in the market. This likely wouldn’t happen, but Apple is being cautious nonetheless. Besides, Apple now has the manufacturing might to keep up in the system specs game.
As much as anything though, this modest announcement shows me that Apple is aware of, and actively participating in the financials game. That is, they are looking for a way to bolster their quarter. A modest bump in one of their hit products will help to do that. This move is to help fight off the inevitable financial drama we will hear about at the end of this quarter. By padding their sales numbers with a spec bump to a hit product, they hope to keep both the stock market, and the consumer electronics market happy.