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Apple wants the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro to replace PCs, but businesses don't

Apple’s really pushing the idea that the iPad Pro can replace a PC, but not everyone is on board — especially in the business world.

At this week’s launch of the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple noted that 600 million PCs in use today are at least 5 years old. Phil Schiller, the company’s head of marketing, called this fact “really sad.” The counterpoint to his argument, however, is that PCs are solid long-term investments, and there’s often no reason to replace them. Nowhere is that more true than in the enterprise.

As Notebook Review’s Jerry Jackson writes in his Apple event analysis:

One of the major reasons that so many old PCs are still in use today is that a 5-year-old PC is still capable of running most of the Windows software that is available today. Try running the current Facebook app for iOS in all its glory on a first-generation iPad … spoiler alert: you can’t.

Product life cycles might not matter to people who can afford to buy a latest device every year. But there are more than 600 million users out there who clearly aren’t buying the newest and most expensive tech. Apple wants [to] gain market share among both education and enterprise clients. Guess which customers tend to hold onto their PCs the longest … education and enterprise clients.

Another sign of the PC’s steadfastness is Dell’s decision to get out of the Android tablet market. In USA Today, analyst Mike Feibus argues it’s not so much a victory for iOS in the tablet wars; it’s a recognition that Windows PCs are still where the money is:

Apple, a company forever relegated to the fringe of big business, holds onto the misguided belief that it can forge into the core of business computing with a new tablet, and supplant hundreds of millions of aging PCs in the process.

It can’t. Like Apple, tablets were never able to break into the heart of enterprise computing. And the iPad Pro brings too little too late to change that.

There’s also the question of whether the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro — or any iPad, for that matter — can replace a PC’s functionality. Technically, it can, but the user experience isn’t always as seamless as it is on Windows.

9.7 inch iPad Pro

The new 9.7-inch Apple iPad Pro supports the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. (Photo: Apple)

For example: Late last year, we deployed Box for file sync and sharing at TechTarget. Now, instead of sending email attachments back and forth to each other, we use Box links. On my PC, when I click a link, it takes me to the document’s page on Box. I click a button on that page, and the doc opens in Microsoft Word.

On my iPad, clicking a link also takes me to the document’s Box page. But then I have to press a button to open the doc in the Box app, and only then can I open the doc in Word. It’s only one extra step, but it’s a needlessly cumbersome one. On the road, is it better than lugging around my laptop? Yes. But would I want to go through that process multiple times a day at my desk? No.

Other essential business tasks are similarly difficult to perform on an iPad. As analyst Jack Gold says in our news writer Ramin Edmond’s story about Apple’s new devices:

Are you going to do a 500-cell spreadsheet on an iPad? No.

You certainly can get a lot of real work done on the device. But if business users were to move off of PCs en masse, they’d need a compelling reason. The iPad Pro does not provide that reason.

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I totally agree. I have a Lenovo Yoga. I get the best of both worlds. It's a touch screen tablet and a pc in one. We have three ipad's in our home so I have a good place for comparisons. The ipad is no substitute for a MacBook Pro either.
Every device has its purpose, in both our personal and our work lives. The iPad can do a lot of previously PC-only tasks. But it can't do them all and it can't do them all as well. It may replace PCs in some use cases, but it won't replace PCs overall.
As the author states, there's a lot of things which are either impractical or just harder to do on an iPad, beginning with his example of even relatively small Excel spreadsheets. The lack of desktop class applications (an iPad just doesn't have the RAM and processor a PC or Mac has) means this will likely be for the email and light word processing crowd.
The iPad would have a hard time, but it is closer than it ever has been. The statement "the user experience isn’t always as seamless as it is on Windows", suggests a bias. So be it, but lets hear a truly balanced consideration. I was told by someone who should have known better that "Apple has no place in business". It does. It shows what can be achieved with ICTs that are less demanding in support. As IBM.
iPad for its all its glory is still a mobile OS but on steroids. A full windows experience can never be replaced. If an enterprise has to look for alternative it would be surface lines. Also with win 10 as core OS on all platforms, you can use mobile continuum to do basicall same task as an ipad pro.
@johnarudkin: How does my statement that the user experience isn’t always as seamless as it is on Windows suggest a bias? I have a pretty clear example of how opening and editing a shared Word document is not as easy to do on an iPad as it is on a PC. And the fact that I still do that regularly on my iPad, even though it would be a better UX on a PC, should demonstrate that I don't have a bias toward Windows.
@etechie: The iPad doesn't need to replace a full Windows experience to be an enterprise success. It needs to make it easier for workers to get their jobs done. Some of that may be accomplished by replicating traditional PC functionality, but some may come from new, mobile-first innovations in workflow and user experience. It does this really well for some use cases at the moment, but not for all.
The heavy application that runs on traditional desktop will not run on I Pad and also adobe full suite dosnt work on Ipad. SO yes it needs to replace full window experience to replace desktops in enterprises.
How about accessory support and expansion? Thanks to USB and VGA, I can plug in a mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, SD card Ethernet cable, and external monitor, and it will "just work" with a PC, to borrow an old Apple phrase.

How many old monitors and keyboards do offices have lying around? Will they really invest in $170 Apple Smart Keyboards, when a USB keyboard can be had for less than $10?

In terms of what you can actually do with a device, there is little difference between a $200 Win 10 tablet, and a $600 iPad Pro. I very much welcome Apple's new push into the enterprise market. But it won't get far in a market where dollars and cents carry more clout than style points and branding considerations.
We replaced the ipads and laptops with the MS Surface and users were very happy with it doing both jobs better. Runs all our apps.
What kinds of apps does your company run?