In my main column on Monday, I talked about how iOS could become the enterprise OS of the millennial generation. I argued that, as Gen Z and Gen Y become millennials who cut their computing teeth on iOS, they would take tools based on this into the business world and, over time, iOS would become defacto for this younger generation in business. But I also mentioned that, if Apple is successful in getting this younger generation to make iOS the standard business operating system, then its impact on Microsoft, Intel and their OEM partners would be impacted by this over time.
If you look at kids in college, high school, and even grammar school, iPad and Android devices dominate their mobile tools and the Mac is their preferred computer for most in college and high school. When I spoke to an MBA class at a major university last year, there were 101 students in the class and all but one had a Mac. Although one could argue that if these kids move into the business world and are forced to adapt to Windows they would. But it is more likely that, because of BYOD, Apple-based products would come into these IT departments in increasing numbers. Also, there have been many stories written in the last three years about companies realizing they need to support Macs and iPads if they want to entice the type of top talent they need to run their businesses in the future.
Apple’s new iPad Pro gives this younger generation a new tool to add to their Apple product mix when going into the business world. Apple could use this to drive iOS into mainstream business and, over time, make iOS the primary business OS. In the article, I talked about its ramifications for vendors in the Windows ecosystem and the challenge this has for Microsoft in trying to keep the Windows franchise the center of the business computing world in the future. Had Steve Ballmer invested in Windows Phone once the iPhone came out and made it a serious competitor, perhaps this younger generation would have this option and, if enough people were Windows Phone users, that could translate into them keeping Windows as their business tool once they went into the workforce. But that ship has sailed and the momentum has swung, particularly to Apple, when it comes to making a mobile OS grow up to become something even business users could embrace.
If this plays out as I suspect it could, it also presents an interesting problem for Apple. Unless the Windows crowd can find a way to convince a younger generation to switch to Windows, iOS seems to be on track to become at least a major enterprise alternative in business settings for this next generation of workers. But the iPad Pro could be problematic for Apple.
Apple seems to have purposely positioned the iPad Pro directly at the business community and if successful, its flexible nature could end up being the preferred business tool of the millennial generation and end up cannibalizing sales of the MacBook and Macbook Air line of Apple laptops.
This is only problematic in that they have spent decades positioning the thinner and lighter MacBooks in this area and it would be a change of direction. From Apple’s standpoint, they would still get the revenue and, as Cook has stated, the iPad Pro is more in line with their purest vision of portable computing in the future.
However, its impact on Intel could be significant. For years, many people have wondered if Apple would use their own chips someday in their MacBook, Mac Pro and iMac line. But I’ve always thought Intel’s processors made more sense for these products and, with Intel constantly upping the power threshold as well as lowering the energy draw, that Apple would use Intel’s chips for a long time. I still think that is the case for the MacBook, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac Pros. But the MacBook and MacBook Air represent about 50-55% of all personal computers Apple’s ships. If the iPad Pro catches on and can deliver a more flexible MacBook-like experience, then this product could eat into Apple’s MacBook demand and Intel would lose significant business — fewer Intel chips would be shipped to Apple customers.
As I have written a couple of times over the last week or two, I see the iPad Pro as being much more disruptive to the market for laptops. Even Apple’s own laptop business could be affected by this move. The good news for Apple is even if it does affect them, their revenue stream will not be impacted and indeed it will probably grow. But for those in the Windows world this could, over time, impact their current business model and strategy. It will be interesting to see how the iPad Pro influences the overall market in the next three years. I sense that it will present a serious challenge to the Windows crowd.