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.
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.