The iPad Pro Smart Connector accessory business isn’t exactly booming, with Logitech’s Smart Connector-enabled backlit keyboard case among a small handful of third-party options currently available on the market.

As a matter of fact, only four accessories support the iPad Pro’s snap-in connector, one of those being Apple’s own Smart Keyboard. The other ones are all made by Logitech.

That’s a pretty skimpy selection given that the pogo pin connector made its debut on the original iPad Pro nearly two years ago, back in in November 2015.

Apple claims more Smart Connector products from third-party makers are on their way.

A recent article by Fast Company took a closer look at the Smart Connector landscape, quoting the Cupertino company as confirming that “multiple companies” are now developing Smart Connector-enabled accessories for the iPad Pro lineup.

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The fact that Apple partnered with Logitech on a Smart Connector keyboard for iPad Pro may have created complications for other vendors, who must compete with both Apple and Logitech.

According to Kelly McElroy, a spokeswoman for Incipio:

With an iPad Pro keyboard on the market already, we are evaluating the market’s appetite for another iPad Pro keyboard and identifying if there are any gaps that we can fill. So we are developing with having a point of difference in mind rather than developing to be quick to market.

Vendors mention issues with procuring Smart Connector components that are time and cost-prohibitive. “For a business like us, we’ve got a very rapid product development cycle,” a source said. “When you’ve got a long lead time component that’s close to six months, that’s just not tenable.”

Other vendors have focused their energies on Bluetooth accessories that work with non-Apple tablets and allow users to prop up their iPads in portrait mode, which isn’t possible with the Smart Connector as it only works with keyboards in landscape mode.

Despite the adoption hurdles, the Smart Connector still has lots of potential.

Taking advantage of a three-pin connector found along the tablet’s bottom edge, this technology allows your iPad Pro to receive input from an accessory and supply power to it. This lets vendors build thinner accessories and, as a cool bonus, connections are instant because the user is never engaged in the cumbersome Bluetooth pairing process.

As much as the snap-in port is a great idea on paper, Apple’s long approval process and pricey components have left third-party makers unimpressed so far. For now, the article concludes, what could be a platform for accessory innovation instead seems like an afterthought.

  • Jamessmooth

    Good article and good point – there should be way more smart connector options available at this point.

  • John

    Wow, I forgot that the smart connector was even able to be licensed…

  • A-thought

    Nice about the backlit thing with the logitech. too bad it’s not thin & lightweight at all, can only be in one position (flat but not raised), only allows the tablet to be in one position, can’t hold the pencil..and then of course there’s that no trackpad crash-n-burn with this and any other iPad keyboard.

    Well, I guess I’ll stick to my surface pro type cover that delivers on all the above. Yep, I can even clip my pen to the keyboard when I don’t have it magnetically attached to the tablet.

    Seriously, I just don’t understand why fans let Apple be 5-6 years behind without a single criticism..

    • Sunshoopa

      I totally agree with this. I’m not going to buy the $150 Smart Cover, because it’s $150. I don’t get why the Surface pro type cover costs $129 and it has a bunch more features to it. I’d get it if it had a backlight, and even more than the Surface one, as it costs $20 more.

      Yeah, that’d be cool for more smart connector stuff, as long as it’s not overly expensive :P.

  • Urname

    The Apple Smart Keyboard is pretty perfect except it’s missing the function row. I hated having to reach up to use the home button, to adjust volume or even just control center for brightness.

    I tried both the Apple and the Logitech keyboard and ended up returning both. Logitech’s keyboard made the iPad Pro thicker than my MacBook Pro. What is the point of an iPad that’s thicker than a MacBook Pro?!

  • Bacillus

    Oops, it’s to connector with that nobody is waiting or wants to be paying for.
    Were it available on an iPhone, it would have some sense for a battery adapter that doesn’t tie up your lightning port.
    But it isn’t.
    On an iPad a high-speed (USB) connection would make sense for things like media I/O – (which is denied because an iPad is supposed to not need a connection)
    But then why this low throughput port, that nobody needs at all ?? External keypads use BT 4/5 and don’t need that much power let alone a licensed port.
    It is s the wrong port, for the wrong purpose, at the wrong time at the wrong location, making you wonder which engineering or marketing mastermind was behind it at all