A car up on cinder blocks: the disappointing launch of the iPad Pro

To begin with, let me say that this post is definitely about a first-world problem. Given the horrific events that unfolded in Paris last night, there are much more important things to think and write about. That being said, this isn't a world news or political site, it's a site about Apple and its products and this post was planned prior to the Paris attacks.

Last night I had a Twitter conversation with an Apple World Today reader in which I described the launch of the iPad Pro without the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil as making the iPad Pro an "expensive grand piano without strings." Here's a better analogy -- let's think of the iPad Pro as a car. 

Before you buy the car, you check out the specs online, gaze through the beautiful brochures, choose your color and interior/exterior options, and build the model of your dreams. You probably even go to the dealership for a test drive, further fueling your anticipation. Finally, you have the cash in hand or your loan lined up, and you make the purchase.

You buy your car with the full expectation that it's going to come ready to drive, loaded with the accessories that you selected in advance. Instead, you look outside your house and see that the dealer has propped it up on cinder blocks, and the air conditioner and infotainment system haven't been installed. In a case like this, you'd most likely be at the dealership as fast as you can, demanding the car that you purchased.  

The dealer is apologetic; "we'll have regular shipments of those parts over the next few months; in the meanwhile, here is a third-party infotainment system that's not quite exactly like what you ordered, but close. And we can sell you another brand of air conditioner for a temporary installation, although it only works when the temperature outside is between 70 and 80 degrees. Sound good?" My response would be "Hell, no it's not good. I can't use what I paid for!"

After the announcement of the iPad Pro in September, my anticipation level for this device was probably higher than it's been for any other Apple product this year. Most of that anticipation was driven by the fact that I would be able to replace two devices -- a 12-inch Retina MacBook and an iPad Air 2 -- with one device capable of performing most (if not all) of the functions of both. I looked at the Apple website repeatedly, and saw the Apple Pencil as being the tool that could finally let me take handwritten notes on an iPad without fighting the lag and lack of palm rejection I've despised with other styluses. The Smart Keyboard? I really looked forward to having a full-size keyboard with a similar feel to the Magic Keyboard on my Mac, one that I wouldn't have to wait a few seconds to connect through Bluetooth and that wouldn't require charging every so often. 

Instead, my "dealer" at the Apple Store, after having me "test drive" the Apple Pencil in Paper by 53 and giving me the chance to run the Smart Keyboard through its paces, reiterated what the Apple online store had told me -- "You'll have to wait until mid-December for the Pencil and Keyboard. But we do have the Logitech CREATE Backlit Keyboard, and you can choose from a variety of third-party styluses... only they won't work the same way the Apple Pencil does."

At least my iPad Pro isn't up on the analogous cinder blocks; it's usable in its existing accessory-free condition and I'm busy loading apps onto it. But without having the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard available at launch, I feel like I only have about half the total package. Those manufacturer accessories are what will turn the iPad Pro into the high-powered cruising machine I wanted, and fortunately I have other "cars" (my Mac and existing iPad) that I can "drive" while I wait for Apple to get my accessories to me.

Not being able to ship the two almost-necessary accessories for the iPad Pro at the product launch was a big mistake on Apple's part in my opinion. Can you imagine the hue and cry we would have heard if Apple had shipped the Apple Watch, then as an aside said "Oh, by the way, your charging cable will ship in 3 to 5 weeks"? 

Sure, this is definitely a first-world problem, and it will be resolved in the next few weeks. But I'm just not sure I've ever seen Apple blow a product launch this badly due to accessory unavailability. Yes, the company wanted to get the iPad Pro into the hands of consumers before the holidays and to businesses while they still had end-of-year budget money available, but waiting a few weeks for launch in order to sync up supply of the device and the accessories would have been a good idea. Instead, I've seen a surprising number of "The iPad Pro is great, but..." comments from other disappointed early adopters. 

Do you agree? Disagree? Are you waiting on the accessories from Apple as well, or are you holding off on buying an iPad Pro until the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil are readily available? Leave your comments below.