Smart post from Samantha Bielefeld, deconstructing and extrapolating upon a 2014 discussion on the Accidental Tech Podcast about the then-rumoured iPad Pro. I particularly like this part:
There is an undertone to Apple’s message with the introduction of the iPad Pro. You can purchase an extremely mediocre Mac Mini for the same $799 starting price of the iPad Pro, that doesn’t include a display or input devices. Or, you can get on board with the post PC era and choose a flagship iPad. One that might possibly provide an even better fit for your needs if the optional accessories are something you can make use of. Apple has now created specific divisions within the iPad lineup; the Mini, the Air, and the Pro – including choices at various price points within those respective divisions. The question has transitioned away from simply, Mac or iPad, and now extends to a range of options that align with the varied use cases of the iPad.
A while ago, Apple made the switch from genericizing their lineup to making more specific products for different uses. If you break most of Apple’s product lineup today into their components, you’ll see pretty much the same stuff inside: an Ax system-on-a-chip, flash memory, communications radios, a battery, and — most of the time — a high-resolution display. Apple is trying to communicate the idea that small variations in this formula can radically alter the context in which the product is used, which means that products like the iPad Pro, Apple Watch, and new Apple TV each have their place.