Apple will add a 128GB iPad to its tablet portfolio—and anyone wanting that super-sized storage capacity better prepare to pay a hefty price, with prices starting at $799 for the WiFi-only version and gusting up to $929 for the cellular-enabled model.
By doubling the iPad’s storage capacity, Apple is taking a clear shot at PC makers, who have touted their laptops’ massive hard drives as a key selling point. Apple’s decision to release the 128GB iPad on Feb. 5 probably isn’t coincidental: a few days later, Microsoft plans on releasing its flagship Surface Pro tablet, which is targeted at power users who generally like a lot of onboard storage. If the new iPad manages to draw in a large number of tablet customers, it could blunt some of the Surface Pro’s release momentum.
Apple is clearly targeting businesses as a key demographic for the 128GB iPad; its press release cites “3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals” as possible uses for a tablet with that much capacity—depending, of course, on actual apps to perform those tasks.
Although Apple continues to earn record revenue—it made $54.5 billion in the quarter ended December 29, with a net profit of $13.3 billion—the company faces the buzzing of analysts and pundits who claim its best days are behind it. “It’s not just about sales and earnings, but also about innovation,” Dan Lyons, editor-in-chief of ReadWrite, wrote in a Jan. 23 blog posting. “It’s been years since Apple did something truly revolutionary.” And that’s just one example; the public pessimism has been enough to drive down Apple’s stock throughout December and January.
Apple has launched iterative upgrades to several of its key products: the iPhone 5 features a larger screen than its predecessors, along with a faster processor, while the iPad has undergone several hardware tweaks in its past few iterations. But it hasn’t launched a category-defining product since the original iPad, unless one counts the iPad Mini as “revolutionary.” Because of that, critics have begun to question whether Apple can indeed fend off Samsung, Microsoft, and other IT vendors determined to seize more attention and market-share.
Even so, in terms of defining continued success, it’s difficult to argue with the number of Apple products sold every quarter. And if an iPad with a larger hard drive can pose a realistic threat to laptops, then it’s clear that Apple still has its mojo.