Apple’s education-focussed event for 27 March caught many of us by surprise. The company does not normally host events in March, with announcements being restricted to June (WWDC) and September (iPhone event).
Given that rumours of low-cost iPads and a new MacBook Air have been swirling around for so long, and that Apple’s scheduled the event at a school rather than a theatre, it’s more than clear who Apple is targeting.
Since the announcement, we’ve been getting several reports of the devices that Apple will be launching, and the latest one, from MacRumours, suggests that Pencil support is coming to a low-cost iPad.
The Apple Pencil is a stylus that debuted with the company’s first 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Since then, the device has been restricted to the iPad Pro series (we don’t know why it’s not been compatible with older models). However, Ming-Chi Kuo, in a note to investors, indicated that Apple is likely to support the Pencil in an upcoming, education-focused iPad. He adds that future iPhones may also get support for the Pencil.
Kuo is a KGI Securities analyst who has been almost unerringly accurate in his predictions for Apple’s plans.
The Pencil, says Kuo, is expected to ship 9-10 million units in 2018 following the announcement on 27 March. He adds that 2017 saw an unforeseen demand for the low-cost 9.7-inch iPad, and that Apple is looking to carry that momentum forward this year. He indicates that Apple is bundling Pencil support to “differentiate the product from low-cost Android tablets in the market.” This new iPad is expected to make up for over 70 percent of iPad shipments this year, says Kuo.
The MacRumours report adds that Apple is likely to drop the cost of the low-cost 9.7-inch iPad down to $259 from the current price of $329.
We’re more curious to see if Apple bundles a keyboard deal with the iPad, however. The iPad is an unmatched media consumption tool to be sure, but as a content creation tool, it’s severely hampered by its mobile operating system (OS) and lack of any suitable input mechanism. To top it off, only the Pro model iPads officially support the keyboard accessory. Other iPads have to make do with Bluetooth keyboards.
This news comes at a time when Google’s Chromebook and Microsoft’s Surface devices have started making in-roads in schools and colleges, which, in the US market, is a very big deal.
Apple, for whatever reason, seems to think that the limited functionality of the iPad is best suited for a learning environment and is expected to unveil several initiatives for the same at the event at Tuesday’s event.