Enough with the gaslighting, Apple: there is no iPad “Pro”

About time people called the company out for its short-sighted and self-serving tactics, now as good a time as any

Promoting a tablet as a “computer” for such a long time without ever having the intention of letting it be a true one is nothing less than a scam, Apple. It’s as simple as that… and people are onto you now. (Image: Apple)

So WWDC 2021 came and went, all the stories have been published and we now have a pretty good idea of what Apple plans to do with the operating systems and services powering its devices for the next 12–18 months. Doing the rounds on YouTube, on websites, forum topics and comment sections, though, some disappointment, frustration or even anger from fans is palpable. It’s true that the most outspoken consumers are often the ones with a bone to pick, yes. But, this time around, it seems that many somber voices — even some actual Apple fanboys — have joined in. This time is different. This time Apple seems to have truly dropped the ball.

It’s not hard to see why. Many of us watched an almost two-hour-long digital event that seemed more like a PowerPoint presentation than anything else, with smooth transitions and clear bullet points but no soul. There were a few interesting tidbits here and there but the company’s new versions of iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS felt largely like business as usual. What’s more, judging by the amount of “new features” that were either much-needed fixes or Apple versions of stuff others have offered years ago, it became painfully obvious that the Cupertino giant is officially out of ideas. That it simply cannot, or will not, “innovate” on the software front.

Sure, Apple will give us a cute pen to draw with but when it comes to actual productivity tools designed for professional workflows… no, we’ll have to buy a Mac for that. Convenient. (Image: Daniel Korpai, Unsplash)

Then it was the shuttering of expectations of some Apple fans — expectations created by media speculation, yes, but also by some of the company’s own choices leading to certain logical outcomes. New e.g. MacBook Pros were not announced, but those are not far off and — along with a refreshed Mac Mini model — they may deserve their own event anyway. Almost everyone, though, after April’s event expected big software news related to the M1 iPad Pro. It made sense. Many — including yours truly — suggested that, with M1 onboard, Apple should give owners of this powerful tablet the option to install macOS on it and, at long last, run actual pro software.

Instead of that, we got about 10 minutes of underwhelming iOS 15 additions that change very little in the way this operating system and apps are holding back these powerful tablets (dramatically more so in the case of the M1 models). It’s true that Apple never promised anything to anyone regarding macOS on the M1 iPad Pros: baseless speculation can run rampant on the Web and many of us knew very well that the chances of the Cupertino giant actually offering macOS on an iPad were slim. But the fact of the matter is that iPadOS is still too clunky, too primitive and too restrictive to be used in realistic, everyday workflows for most types of professional work. It might be OK for small projects or for stuff that’s not time-critical, but that’s it.

Apple will not give people the option of installing macOS on the M1 iPad Pro, hoping that this will force them to buy a MacBook or iMac. It will not. For actual work, they probably already have another computer, more suitable for that task. (Image: Daniel Romero, Unsplash)

Journalists and analysts insist that Apple is not giving M1 iPad Pro owners the option to run macOS on it because that “would lead to the tablets taking away sales from the MacBook product lines”. They insist that “Apple would like consumers to get both, an iPad and a MacBook” and “use each device based on what its operating system allows” (despite the fact that an M1 iPad Pro 12.9 actually costs as much or even more than an M1 MacBook). Well, of course Apple would love to sell twice as many devices, but why was ever that deemed to be an acceptable approach from a consumer perspective?

So let’s make this clear once and for all. Professional users will not do what Apple hopes they will, that is buy a desktop Mac and/or a MacBook and an iPad Pro and use each one for work in the particular way that this company would like them to. It’s all nonsense because when it comes to work — not content consumption or general use but actual work — people generally prefer to do it on one device. People writing on the move will use a MacBook and not the iPad because of the former’s proper keyboard. People multitasking on the move will not go anywhere near the iPad. People following demanding, hours-long, time-sensitive graphics or video or music editing workflows will either use a desktop Mac or a powerful MacBook with an external monitor because, well, desk, mouse, fast keyboard shortcuts, true multitasking, sizable desktop real estate. They’ll not use the iPad.

Manipulating the perception of consumers for years might be doable for a company like Apple, but it can’t last forever. The company’s choices regarding the M1 iPad Pro made that quite clear. (Image: Walling, Unsplash)

In that sense, it turns out that Apple has been gaslighting consumers from the very beginning with the iPad “Pro” models. It was pure manipulation all along: the company never intended for these tablets to be used as real professional tools and the iPadOS itself is proof of that. Apple just called them “Pro” in order to justify their higher prices, all the while meaning for them to be used more or less like “regular” iPads. So, for years now, Apple has praised professionals that use the iPad Pro “creatively” whereas, in truth, it knows that the vast majority of them are using it as a complementary device at best. It knows that there is no iPad “Pro”. There are just more expensive models that can do more …  as long as “more” is done within the usability limits set by Apple itself.

What’s funny about all this is that the one thing that could change this perception is what many M1 iPad Pro owners have been asking for: macOS on these devices. But Apple will still not offer that — despite building iPads powerful enough to run full, proper professional software — because its self-serving tactics take priority over what could be really helpful for its customers. What the macOS on M1 iPad Pro would offer, at the end of the day, is convenience: not going through the iPadOS hoops in order to do some urgent work quickly, anywhere, at any time. Nobody’s gonna buy a MacBook/MacBook Pro for the off chance of needing it while out and about. An iPad Pro on ‘double duty”, though, as a top tablet and a capable enough modular laptop, might have been an attractive choice even to those that did not plan to buy any iPad model in the first place.

Hoping for additional sales, Apple denies people that. It has every right to do so, but it may eventually find out   that greed and arrogance can drive even some of its loyal customers away, let alone mainstream consumers. A number of people are already returning their M1 iPad Pros or canceling their orders since the beginning of the week, for instance, and for good reason: why buy a “Pro” iPad that’s a professional tool by name only? There is no point. Yours truly will not be returning his M1 iPad Pro 12.9, but this is definitely the last “Pro” iPad he’ll be buying after three different models since 2016. There’s only so much gaslighting a person can take.


Kostas Farkonas

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).




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