During Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) education-focused event on Tuesday morning at Lane Tech College Prep High School, the tech giant unveiled a new version of its 9.7-inch iPad, as expected. With a low starting price relative to its impressive specs, the new iPad marks an aggressive effort to offer value to consumers, schools, and students.
Here's what you should know about the new device and how it could help reinvigorate Apple's iPad business, which saw revenue slide 7% in Apple's fiscal 2017.
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Apple's new 9.7-inch iPad
Priced at $329, Apple has packed as much value as possible into its new 9.7-inch iPad.
Starting with its guts, its A10 Fusion chip with 64-bit desktop-class architecture gives the new iPad 40% faster CPU and 50% faster graphics performance than the previous 9.7-inch iPad. In addition, the iPad is "designed for powerful [augmented reality] apps" thanks to its advanced cameras and sensors.
Further, in a move aimed directly at targeting schools, students, and professionals, Apple finally gave its standard iPad Apple Pencil support. Previously, only iPad Pro devices supported Apple Pencil.
Despite its Apple Pencil support, its $329 starting price is well below starting prices for Apple's two iPad Pro models. Apple's 10.5-inch iPad Pro starts at $649 -- nearly twice the new iPad's starting price. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799.
Perhaps even more startling is the fact that the new iPad is priced lower than the iPad mini 4, which starts at $399.
Yet Apple didn't stop at an aggressive $329 price tag for its new, beefed-up iPad. Apple is making the new iPad available at a starting price of $299 for schools. In addition, schools can now buy the Apple Pencil for $89 ($10 below the standard Apple Pencil price).
A catalyst for Apple's iPad business
Though Apple's revenue from its iPad segment climbed 6% year over year in the company's most recent quarter, it's clear that Apple's iPad segment has been struggling when investors look at iPad revenue over a larger time horizon. In Apple's fiscal 2017, for instance, iPad revenue fell 7% year over year -- and this followed a year in which iPad revenue fell 11%.
With the new iPad, Apple is making a concerted effort to reinvigorate the segment. And it may very well pull it off. Not only is Apple targeting large orders from schools with the iPad's low price point, school discounts, and Apple Pencil support, but Apple is also aiming to garner mass-market interest from consumers; the 9.7-inch iPad is Apple's best-selling iPad. By offering Apple Pencil support at the lowest price point yet for Apple's most popular iPad, Apple could be opening itself up to a much larger addressable market.
Though there will certainly be some cannibalization of higher-priced iPad Pro models, this value-packed iPad will likely more than make up for its lower selling price with higher sales volume.
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