Apple Sets Sights On Microsoft Surface With 128GB iPad

Apple announced a new version of its fourth-generation iPad today. Apple’s newest will be a 128GB version starting at $799 with cellular connectivity at $929 and hits stores on February 5th. With the tablet industry trending towards smaller, cheaper versions, why would Apple buck the trend and release one of the most expensive tablets on the market?

The answer has little to do with Google, Amazon or the Android Army. For Apple, the 128GB iPad is all about business and enterprise. What company controls the enterprise software market and is releasing its own expensive tablet?

Yeah, that would be Microsoft.

“With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs,” Apple VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said in a release. 

Apple has set its eyes on the dying infrastructure of the PC industry and Microsoft’s Windows operating system business. That is really the only reason that Cupertino would unveil an iPad with 128 gigabytes, a size that challenges many of the “ultrabooks” that have become popular in the laptop market these days. 

The new iPad also looks to compete with the forthcoming Surface Pro running Windows 8 expected to hit stores on February 9 with 64GB starting at $899. A 128GB Surface Pro is expected in the near future which will likely be $100-$200 more expensive. It looks like Apple as sitting on Microsoft’s announcement of Surface Pro price and availability and held the 128GB iPad back until it could come out a few days earlier and be more cost efficient for the amount of storage that it offers. 

If you have any doubt that Apple is targeting the enterprise and Microsoft with this new version of the fourth-generation iPad, the language in Apple’s press release leaves little doubt of where the device is targeted. 

“iPad continues to have a significant impact on business with virtually all of the Fortune 500 and over 85 percent of the Global 500 currently deploying or testing iPad. Companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data such as 3D CAD files, X-rays, film edits, music tracks, project blueprints, training videos and service manuals all benefit from having a greater choice of storage options for iPad. The over 10 million iWork® users, and customers who rely on other incredible apps like Global Apptitude for analyzing team film and creating digital playbooks, Auria for an incredible 48 track recording system, or AutoCAD for drafting architectural and engineering drawings, also benefit greatly from having the choice of an iPad with more storage capacity.”

Apple then goes on to quote three enterprise executives from AutoCAD, Global Apptitude and WaveMachine Labs. The targeting towards the enterprise makes sense for a 128GB iPad because, really, no consumer needs that much storage on a tablet. That would be a lot of songs and movies.

Over the last couple of years, tablets have dug into the revenues of traditional PC makers like HP, Lenovo, Dell and others. With Apple’s newest iPad, Cupertino is going for the jugular.