If you see a stylus, they blew it.

September 10, 2015

Steve Jobs was no prophet. Not really.

 

He was a great inspirational leader, with a very strong personality who was able to slightly bend the universe to his preferences and wishes. Still, no one can deny he has vision, and foresight into what people want, sometimes before they even know they want it.

 

Back during the infamous iPhone launch in 2007, Steve said that “…if you see a stylus, they blew it”. However he was absolutely right back then, at least during a time when the so-called smartphones solely rely on ancient input technology, when stylus was merely something sharp and hard used to press upon small low-resolution screens.

 

But aside from technology, Steve was right in terms of user behavior. Even with the huge technological advancement of stylus from Samsung, general consumers rarely have a need to use a stylus during their everyday lives. Look around, do you still see many users take out their stylus from their android phones and poke at their screens in 2015? Not a lot.

 

Why a stylus from Apple now? You ask.

 

Apple launched their iPad Pro today. For new followers, perhaps some will confuse Apple as merely a consumer-brand, like Samsung. However, Apple has always positioned themselves as a brand for professionals. The original Mac and many later versions are tools for designers, musicians, educators and even doctors.

 

It is the success of the iPhone and iPad that made Apple popular in the mass consumer market. The professional-brand association actually helped their consumer products, so much so, that we are seeing more and more consumers buying Apple Pro-line products.

 

The hardware specs of the Macbook Pro is way beyond any general consumer usage. From the CPU, to the GPU, the Macbook Pro is really designed for productivity, and not just office productivity, but video editing, desktop publishing and music production.

 

Yet, perhaps because of its size, weight, and even price, we see many consumers buying Macbook Pro. A good news for Apple, but not what they intended.

 

On the contrary, there’s the cylindrical Mac Pro, which is the highest-end product for a very niche market of content production. Due to its size, price and the fact that it requires additional display, keyboard and mouse, the Mac Pro is not as consumer-friendly.

 

So, Apple has all along been clear in their positioning. The iPad Pro, the third “PRO” product from Apple, is for production, not consumption.

 

You don’t see an iPhone Pro, you don’t see an iPod Pro, or even an iMac Pro, right?

 

Their positioning cannot be clearer today when they introduced their first software partner for iPad Pro: Microsoft. Highlighting the Microsoft Office suite, instead of the iWork suite (Pages, Keynote and Numbers), Apple is talking to the office workers, the business professionals, when they introduced this new iPad.

 

Then there’s Adobe, a full demonstrations of desktop publishing. Don’t be fooled by the speed and ease of the demo, the app is designed for work, not for fun.

 

This is precisely why Apple launched both a new keyboard and a stylus. Consumers watching the keynote might get a sense of disappointment, as these “new innovations” are nothing new. Microsoft launched their Surface three years ago with a similar snap-on keyboard and a stylus.

 

Many consumers have a false impression that Apple is quick to launch new technology, that they are a market-leading innovator. But it cannot be further from the truth. In fact, most of the biggest hits from Apple were late-comers. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player in the market. Apple remade it, curate it and re-positioned it. The iPad wasn’t the first tablet, it wasn’t not even the first touch-screen tablet.

 

The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, and it didn’t include many basic mobile phone features of that era during its launch. The iPhone wasn’t the first to bring most of the new technology we see today, including 3G, LTE, Bluetooth, Video Conferencing, Video Recording, NFC…etc. The iPhone is surely not the first to adapt to a bigger screen size.

 

Still, when Apple adapt a technology, they seem to get it right. By learning from other’s mistakes, adding their own taste and re-making it, Apple was able to out-perform every single competitive products launched faster and earlier than theirs.

 

Could the new iPad Pro, with its Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard see similar fate?

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