Apple’s Confusing iPad Product Line

Those of us who have been using Macs for a long time remember the days before Steve Jobs returned to the company and simplified the product lines. There were scads of different Macs, and it was hard to know what the differences were. Jobs killed off most of the existing models, and simplified the offering.

But things are returning to an unnecessary level of complication; take a look at the current iPad product line:

Ipad product line

Ignoring the different color, capacities, and connection capabilities (Wi-Fi and cellular), there are five different iPads. Why?

There are now two different iPad Pro models, each with some unique features. The 12.9″ iPad is, for the most part, inferior to the 9.7″ model, though it has some features that its smaller brother doesn’t, such as USB 3 transfers, and a faster processor. But the 9.7″ model has such features as Wide Color and True Tone display, live photos, a True Tone flash, and more. Rather than upgrade the (admittedly young) larger iPad Pro, Apple chose to make the smaller, cheaper model more modern.

They still sell the iPad Air 2, which is a good thing, because it is an affordable option for people who don’t need the “Pro” features (i.e., most people). But then there are two iPad mini models; the mini 4 and the mini 2. Why have two models of the small tablet? Sure, the iPad mini 4 is a bit lighter, has a faster processor, and a better camera, but why continue to sell the sub-standard model? There’s a fairly large difference in price – for the 16 GB versions, the mini 4 costs $399, compared to only $269 for the mini 2, but then the different storage options don’t match (16/64/128 GB for the mini 4, 16/32 for the mini 2).

All told, with the different colors, capacities, and connectivity options, there are 77 SKUs for the iPad product line:

  • 12.9″ iPad Pro: 15
  • 9.7″ iPad Pro: 24
  • iPad Air 2: 12
  • iPad mini 4: 18
  • iPad mini 2: 8

That’s a lot of different products to manage.

One could say the same thing about the iPhone; there is the iPhone 6, the 6s, Plus versions of each one, and now the SE. So that’s five different models, in a variety of colors and capacities. But it seems more complicated with the iPad, perhaps just because of the second iPad mini. maybe they need to kill off that cheaper model, but also match the features in the two iPad Pro models.