While Apple touted the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector as a valuable new port for charging and linking accessories, so far only Apple itself and its close collaborator Logitech have produced anything to make use of it, Fast Company reports. While Apple has confirmed “multiple companies are now developing Smart Connector accessories,” those in the industry are looking at a daunting task when examining the market advantage Logitech has in being able to launch its iPad Pro-friendly keyboard offerings on launch day or shortly after. “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,” said Kelly McElroy, a spokeswoman for Incipio. “So we are developing with having a point of difference in mind rather than developing to be quick to market.”
Other accessory makers complained about long lead times and high costs for the necessary Smart Connector components, with one source claiming the process was too cost- and time-prohibitive to be profitable. “For a business like us, we’ve got a very rapid product development cycle,” the unnamed source said. “When you’ve got a long lead time component that’s close to six months, that’s just not tenable.” Bluetooth is also less limiting for manufacturers who produce keyboards that can be used with other devices as well, or people like Salman Sajid, creator of the Touchtype iPad keyboard case, who prefers typing in portrait mode while the Smart Connector connection would limit a keyboard to being used in landscape. The Smart Connector’s pogo pins actually render the hinges on Brydge’s clamshell cases useless, undermining its biggest selling point. The powered aspect of the Smart Connector accessories — eliminating the need for batteries — hasn’t even proved a sellable feature since many batteries can last months or even years, making changing or charging them less irksome.