128GB iPad (4)

There’s a new top-of-the-line iPad. Apple announced the 128GB iPad (4), priced at US$799 for the WiFi model and $929 for the cellular model. Now you have four storage options: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. 9to5Mac nailed it:

With developers finding code in the soon-to-be-released iOS 6.1 that points to 128GB iOS devices, and with recent findings of 128GB references in Apple’s recent iTunes 11 release, speculation naturally points to Apple releasing a 128GB iPad in the very near future.

The preposterous happened; Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet, got it completely wrong:

Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Apple has never bumped the storage of any iOS device outside of a refresh of the product [UPDATE: Apple silently bumped the storage on the original iPhone and iPod touch from 8GB to 16GB]. The idea that will start doing this now—and with the iPad, a device that is selling very well—is preposterous.

Foretelling hardware changes on future products, especially future Apple products, is difficult. So it’s not surprising a lot of rumors remain rumors and a lot of writers get it wrong. Heck, I’ve got it wrong so many times I’m way beyond counting.

via John Gruber. Todd Haselton, TechnoBuffalo, asks, “Who needs a 128GB iPad?” Apple PR’s answer:

Companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data […]

Haselton’s advice:

I think most consumers will be better off either buying a full featured laptop, such as the MacBook Air, or for portability, the Surface with Windows 8 Pro.

The iOS-based iPad and the OS X-based MacBook Air are geared toward different usages, if that wasn’t already crystal clear. The two are not generally interchangeable and depends on what you need to do.

Take email for example. Browsing, tagging, and short replying are generally better on the iPad. Longer, thoughtful replies that require embedded hyperlinks to one or more online resources, and attaching documents (Office, PDF, etc.) are generally better on the MacBook Air. That’s just one example.

The error of Haselton’s thinking is this: Assuming the iPad and MacBook Air can now be interchangeable just because their prices become similar due to a bump in the storage of the iPad.

But does anyone really need 128GB on their iPad and be willing to pay $1000 for it?

Gamers. iOS games, especially the retina ones, can get really big. And if you have several of them along with the rest of your multimedia files 64GB might get filled up quickly.

Videophiles. Streaming your own video is possible, but without a fast and solid Internet connection the experience of watching a HD video won’t be that great. If you’re in an area where there’s no Internet connectivity (most planes) or where it’s really expensive (most hotels) it’s best to store your videos in the iPad. Several 1080p movies can eat up storage like nothing else.

I’m certain there are many other groups who would benefit from a 128GB iPad, but for the majority of us it’s overkill in terms of both storage and price.

I don’t need a 128GB iPad. Two reasons: First, cloud syncing. Dropbox, iCloud, etc. allows storage of music, photos, documents, etc. up in the cloud; we don’t need to fill our iPads with those anymore. As long as we have access to the Internet, we’re good. If not we can still get by on most occasions with a 64GB iPad. Cloud lockers and syncing services offload a lot of stuff from our iPads so we don’t need as much storage as before. So that’s reason one.

Reason two, Internet connectivity is more accessible and a lot faster. When we need our cloud-synced documents it’s a lot easier and faster to get them to our iPads. Give us a few minutes and what we need will be downloaded and we’re ready to go. The work I do requires a lot of documents; they are stored locally in my MacBook Pro and on Dropbox. When I’m on the road and need access to those documents I pull out my iPhone, launch Dropbox, and there they are. Numbers One and Two are intimately related, but not the same. Imagine having cloud syncing services in a country that has poor Internet connectivity. Having to wait a long time to download the documents you need would be frustrating. In that situation storing your important documents in your iPad would be a better option.

$929 for a 128GB cellular iPad (4) seems like a lot of money to me, but I’m not the target audience. For those “companies regularly utilizing large amounts of data” a 128GB iPad might be just the trick.