Apple's 9.7-inch 'iPad Pro' to bring flagship glory back to full-size form factor

Posted:
in iPad edited March 2016
Apple's 9.7-inch iPad is languishing. Once the flagship of the iPad fleet, the original full-size form factor has been at best in line with -- sometimes behind -- the smaller iPad mini and was most recently relegated to second fiddle behind the powerful, more versatile 12.9-inch iPad Pro. That could change on Monday.




When Steve Jobs took the wraps off iPad in 2010, he called the 9.7-inch, iOS-powered tablet "magical and revolutionary," a testament to Apple's industry-leading design and engineering prowess. It was Cupertino's first foray into slate-style computing and at $499 came at a price point nestled in that Goldilocks zone between iPhone and Mac.

Two years later the 7.9-inch iPad mini launched alongside a fourth-generation iPad to address trends in a consumer market showing signs of slowdown. The diminutive iPad introduced new features like a fresh design and support for Siri, something not included with the full-size iPad 2, which at the time was still on sale as Apple's entry-level model.

It took only one update cycle for mini's specs to catch up with its larger-screened stablemate, and in October 2013 the company announced iPad mini 2 with Retina display and an A7 system-on-chip also used to power the first iPad Air.




Cut to 2016 and sales of the aging 9.7-inch lineage, led by iPad Air 2, are lagging behind the cheaper, equally capable iPad mini 4. The latest data suggests price played a role in shifting customer sentiment, but from a consumer perspective, iPad Air 2 offers little to differentiate from iPad mini 4 aside from a larger multitouch canvas.

Pro tuning



After more than two years of rumors Apple unveiled the mammoth 12.9-inch iPad Pro last September. Unlike the iPad mini that came before it, the Pro isn't an iteration on a theme (in this case an iPad Air suffering from gigantism), but a complete rethinking of iOS as a platform.

Most notable is an accessory ecosystem developed around -- and in tandem with -- Pro's robust internals.




Apple Pencil, an advanced pressure- and tilt-sensing stylus, boasts incredibly tight integration with Pro's high-resolution Retina display thanks to an array of specialized components. To reduce latency, for example, iPad Pro's touch sampling subsystem juices scan rates to up to 240Hz when it detects Pencil's digital fingerprint. The device launched to such insatiable demand that it remained out of stock for months.

Apple's Smart Keyboard takes advantage of iPad Pro's Smart Connector, a bespoke magnetic accessory port capable of delivering two-way power and data across a compact three-pin interface.

iPad Pro represents a new class of iPad, one that far surpasses any previous evolutionary rung in Apple's tablet ladder. And with a step-up model to push development, the company has a chance to restore the next-in-line 9.7-inch form factor to flagship status.

Pro form



The next-generation 9.7-inch iPad is expected to benefit from the usual trickle-down effect applied to past iPad releases. That means Apple will likely borrow heavily from iPad Pro's parts bin, with current rumors pointing to the inclusion of an A9X system-on-chip variant and supporting circuitry, a four-speaker audio system and the new Smart Connector.




One of the more exciting prospects is compatibility with Apple Pencil. For that to happen, however, Apple will need to squeeze a specialized sensing array behind iPad's Retina display. The engineering challenge is made no less onerous by a 6.1 millimeter-thick chassis already short on internal volume.

While most of the expected upgrades will be internal, recent leaks suggest Apple's iPad Air 2 successor will also get an aesthetic reworking. Along with quad speaker ports, rumors hold that Apple is building in a flash for iPad's rear-facing camera. The unit is also said to be slightly thicker than current models, again due to the addd requirements for Pencil.

(Not) Pro bono



Branding has not yet been revealed, but the new iPad is thought to launch under the "Pro" banner. If Apple continues with convention and lets iPad Air 2 stick around, the 9.7-inch Pro could hit store shelves starting at $599 for a 32GB version.

In any case, new hardware and accessory support moves the stalwart 9.7-inch form factor up a slot in terms of raw capability. That also means potential customers could have some tough decisions to make come next week. It's no longer just a question of big and small, now it's about features. At least until next year.

Apple is widely expected to debut a new 9.7-inch iPad model at its "Let us loop you in" event on Monday. AppleInsider will be on the scene providing live coverage starting at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 676member
    Good work, DED, you've trained him well. This is Campbell's first relatable, insightful article!

    I imagine the iPads will all eventually be Pencil-optimised, and the iPhones will all be 3DTouch optimised. There has to be differentiating features between these two classes of products. 

    I really hope the new 4" is cute as a button!
    levibaconstangcornchip
  • Reply 2 of 48
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,329member
    brakken said:
    Good work, DED, you've trained him well. This is Campbell's first relatable, insightful article!

    I imagine the iPads will all eventually be Pencil-optimised, and the iPhones will all be 3DTouch optimised. There has to be differentiating features between these two classes of products. 

    I really hope the new 4" is cute as a button!
    He can't have been trained by DED! There isn't another 1000 words saying how bad Google/Android  is.

    Apart from that interesting article.
    canukstormmaxxe2cornchipkibitzercrowleystaticx57cnocbui
  • Reply 3 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,526member
    I think Apple need to go bigger picture and sell iPad Air 2 at 32 GB for $399, iPad Pro (this one) at 64 GB for $499, 128 GB for $629, 256 GB for $749. iPad mini 4 at minus-$100 for same store sizes.

    If they simply must have a budget iPad make it iPad mini 4 16 GB at $299.

    And kill every other iPad.

    Yes it brings down profit per unit but it makes the product lineup so much better. So much more future-proofed and shows their customers some respect. If Apple are about making the best products in the world and not simply a greedy money making machine as so many companies are then they are going to have to prove it. Their arrogant hunger for profit to the detriment of everything else is why iPhone and iPad sales are slowing. 16 GB flagship iPhones should have been EOL 3 years ago. iPhone should start at 64 GB (complaints I here the whole time from people I know are battery life and storage max) with a $129 premium for the 128 GB model. And perhaps a 256 GB model also.
    edited March 2016 singularity6Sgoldfish
  • Reply 4 of 48
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    arrogant hunger for profit? slowing iphone sales? armchair CEOs are so clueless....Apple makes the best products in multiple industries, which is why its customers literally line up to throw money at them. the iPhone is the most successful product in the history of mankind, earning billions and billions -- all while maintaining the highest consumer satisfaction ratings. there's no way to argue it's anything other than an overwhelming success -- even if most of the world now has exposure to it and sales may be cooling. hater nonsense. 
    mike1radarthekatpmzbaconstangai46fotoformatbrakkenredgeminipa
  • Reply 5 of 48
    irelandireland Posts: 17,526member
    arrogant hunger for profit?
    I hold Apple to higher ideals than you do obviously. I expect more of them.

    all while maintaining the highest consumer satisfaction ratings
    We've all heard the battery life and storage limit companints. I've nieces and nephews and cousins and it's all I ever here about. Apple as the best product company around needs to think of these issues as problems, and not one solved by comments like "just spend $100 or $200 more..." by snarky people such as yourself. No, Apple needs to protect its customers from buying products with these issues by not selling them.

    If you listen to Ive he says Apple's goal is to not chase profits but to make the best products and the profits will come, but if you've been paying attention particularly in the past 4 years you'll see that while Ive may be sincere and believes what he's saying Apple's behaviour often tells a different story.

    To cover your iPad mini 4 (for one example) front and rear now with Apple covers is €115. If the only argument against that is "you're not forced to buy Apple's cover" (and it is) then that's sad and speaks volumes about people such as yourself that defend this behaviour. Charging a healthy fair price is about business, but also ideals and dignity. Charging an extortionate amount for a case feels off. Apple speak about higher ideals, so it's important if they don't reach them that we hold a mirror up to them. Magic trackpad 2, Magic keyboard, have you seen those prices in the EU? Currency exchange? I'm not buying it. Greed is the motivation. Greed is the reason 16 GB iOS devices won't go away.

    armchair CEOs are so clueless
    As a customer, you're the clueless one. You don't need to defend the richest company around, they won't go out of business if we're honest. It's fine to criticise them. They aren't a junk meaningless, vacuous, valueless company such as Samsung. They stand for certain things which is great. They just need to live up to them.

    there's no way to argue it's anything other than an overwhelming success -- even if most of the world now has exposure to it and sales may be cooling. hater nonsense
    What are you talking about? Forget it, no need to reply. You're thinking lacks depth.
    edited March 2016 larryadasanman69canukstormstaticx57
  • Reply 6 of 48
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,804member
    ireland said:
    I think Apple need to go bigger picture and sell iPad Air 2 at 32 GB for $399, iPad Pro (this one) at 64 GB for $499, 128 GB for $629, 256 GB for $749. iPad mini 4 at minus-$100 for same store sizes.

    If they simply must have a budget iPad make it iPad mini 4 16 GB at $299.

    And kill every other iPad.

    Yes it brings down profit per unit but it makes the product lineup so much better. So much more future-proofed and shows their customers some respect. If Apple are about making the best products in the world and not simply a greedy money making machine as so many companies are then they are going to have to prove it. Their arrogant hunger for profit to the detriment of everything else is why iPhone and iPad sales are slowing. 16 GB flagship iPhones should have been EOL 3 years ago. iPhone should start at 64 GB (complaints I here the whole time from people I know are battery life and storage max) with a $129 premium for the 128 GB model. And perhaps a 256 GB model also.
    Ask 100 people what "acceptable" battery life is and you'll get maybe two answers, the most common being "last all day". Ask the simple follow-up question of what do you do on it that the battery needs to last a day and you'll get a 100 different answers. Some people use it mostly for e-mail and a few phone calls all day. Some add some useful apps like banking to the mix. Some people will check their facebook or twitter accounts incessantly. Some will use battery-sucking apps like games or watch/make videos all day.

    Somewhere at Apple there is a matrix of various activities and their battery life combined with what their data tells them how people use the phone (Yes, most people send this back to Apple, knowingly or unknowingly.) Then, the design team will make the call on how to best satisfy most of the users, most of the time because they understand, you'll never satisfy everybody all of the time.
    baconstangai46ericthehalfbee
  • Reply 7 of 48
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    You guys are delusional about the iPad. 

    The overwhelming majority of consumers do not care about Smart Keyboard or Apple Pencil or other so called Pro features. 
    Just like the iPad Pro 12" that garnered maybe a couple million sales from a niche of the tablet market, this 9.7" Pro model will scoop up a handful of holdouts that didn't want a 12" size or couldn't afford the price tag. It will also scoop up a handful of iPad Air 2 upgraders who have had their product for 1.5 years now. 

    I love MY iPad Pro, but I represent a tiny tiny subset of the market. 


    dasanman69mike1cornchipstaticx57
  • Reply 8 of 48
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    ireland said:

    Yes it brings down profit per unit but   
    You lost me, and Apple, right there. 

    There is no But. Price drops do not improve sales. They just hurt the bottom line. 
    mike1baconstangfotoformatadonissmujmgregory1
  • Reply 9 of 48
    kpluckkpluck Posts: 500member
    Apple's 9.7-inch iPad is languishing. Once the flagship of the iPad fleet, the original full-size form factor has been at best in line with -- sometimes behind -- the smaller iPad mini and was most recently relegated to second fiddle behind the powerful, more versatile 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
    Huh? I don't think I have ever read a statement that was more wrong written about the iPad (9.7 inch).

    -kp
  • Reply 10 of 48
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,928moderator
    ireland said:
    arrogant hunger for profit?
    I hold Apple to higher ideals than you do obviously. I expect more of them.

    all while maintaining the highest consumer satisfaction ratings
    We've all heard the battery life and storage limit companints. I've nieces and nephews and cousins and it's all I ever here about. Apple as the best product company around needs to think of these issues as problems, and not one solved by comments like "just spend $100 or $200 more..." by snarky people such as yourself. No, Apple needs to protect its customers from buying products with these issues by not selling them.

    If you listen to Ive he says Apple's goal is to not chase profits but to make the best products and the profits will come, but if you've been paying attention particularly in the past 4 years you'll see that while Ive may be sincere and believes what he's saying Apple's behaviour often tells a different story.

    To cover your iPad mini 4 (for one example) front and rear now with Apple covers is €115. If the only argument against that is "you're not forced to buy Apple's cover" (and it is) then that's sad and speaks volumes about people such as yourself that defend this behaviour. Charging a healthy fair price is about business, but also ideals and dignity. Charging an extortionate amount for a case feels off. Apple speak about higher ideals, so it's important if they don't reach them that we hold a mirror up to them. Magic trackpad 2, Magic keyboard, have you seen those prices in the EU? Currency exchange? I'm not buying it. Greed is the motivation. Greed is the reason 16 GB iOS devices won't go away.

    armchair CEOs are so clueless
    As a customer, you're the clueless one. You don't need to defend the richest company around, they won't go out of business if we're honest. It's fine to criticise them. They aren't a junk meaningless, vacuous, valueless company such as Samsung. They stand for certain things which is great. They just need to live up to them.

    there's no way to argue it's anything other than an overwhelming success -- even if most of the world now has exposure to it and sales may be cooling. hater nonsense
    What are you talking about? Forget it, no need to reply. You're thinking lacks depth.

    ---

    After so many posts here on AI, I think it's your thinking that lacks depth.  

    The iPhone price, with 64GB of storage is $749 (I'm using U.S. currency, you're mileage by vary, but the argument I'm making remains the same).  For that you get a 64GB model of the iPhone 6S, a more capable, faster handset than you got a year earlier at the same price, and larger and faster than you got two years ago at the same price.  That's the first part of the bargain Apple has with its customers.  For years, the price of the product remains unchanged while what you get becomes more capable.  That's the bargain everyone gets in the technology space across all vendors.  Oh, and for customers who don't need as much storage, because maybe they use the cloud, there's a $100 discount off that price for a 16GB model, a phone with all the same performance and features of the 64GB model.

    How quickly some have forgotten how many stand-alone products a smartphone replaces.  Single-function cell phone, video camera, still-photo camera, portable video playback system/television, computer, radio, alarm clock, calculator, the list goes on and on.  Now how much would you pay?  

    These same people throw out an argument that Apple's handsets are so much more expensive than others, ignoring the fact that other vendors (Samsung, LG, HTC, etc) also sell premium handsets at similar prices.  Apple happens to sell only premium handsets; they don't also sell cheaper models like those other companies do.  

    And the same people conveniently forget the resale value retained by Apple's handsets, and the usable lifespan, both of which reduce the total cost of ownership.  Apple should be able to charge premium prices across its entire line of handsets because they are the only ones on earth that can readily take an OS upgrade three or four years in-a-row after they have been introduced.  An OS that offers better security than rivals, is more tightly integrated and therefore allows better performance while sipping less juice.  Apple takes the higher ground in the form of engineering its products to be more power efficient per unit of computing performance, allowing the company to deliver decent time between charges, comparable to its competition, with a smaller battery.  That translates to less aggregate volume [mass] of batteries ending up in landfills or needing to be recycled years down the road per million phones versus the competition, and fewer tons of coal burned (or whatever fuel is used in the power plants that provide electricity to the homes of Apple's customers where iPhones are being charged during their useable life).

    All of the above applies equally to Apple's iPad line.

    Tell us again whose thinking lacks depth.
    edited March 2016 dasanman69baconstangmnbob1cornchipbestkeptsecret
  • Reply 11 of 48
    There is nothing "pro" about a product that cannot run any pro apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. That's the bottom line. Apple's "pro" moniker is a distinction without a difference.
    edited March 2016 singularitycropr
  • Reply 12 of 48
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    ireland said:
    arrogant hunger for profit?
    I hold Apple to higher ideals than you do obviously. I expect more of them.

    We've all heard the battery life and storage limit companints. I've nieces and nephews and cousins and it's all I ever here about. Apple as the best product company around needs to think of these issues as problems, and not one solved by comments like "just spend $100 or $200 more..." by snarky people such as yourself. No, Apple needs to protect its customers from buying products with these issues by not selling them.

    If you listen to Ive he says Apple's goal is to not chase profits but to make the best products and the profits will come, but if you've been paying attention particularly in the past 4 years you'll see that while Ive may be sincere and believes what he's saying Apple's behaviour often tells a different story.

    To cover your iPad mini 4 (for one example) front and rear now with Apple covers is €115. If the only argument against that is "you're not forced to buy Apple's cover" (and it is) then that's sad and speaks volumes about people such as yourself that defend this behaviour. Charging a healthy fair price is about business, but also ideals and dignity. Charging an extortionate amount for a case feels off. Apple speak about higher ideals, so it's important if they don't reach them that we hold a mirror up to them. Magic trackpad 2, Magic keyboard, have you seen those prices in the EU? Currency exchange? I'm not buying it. Greed is the motivation. Greed is the reason 16 GB iOS devices won't go away.

    As a customer, you're the clueless one. You don't need to defend the richest company around, they won't go out of business if we're honest. It's fine to criticise them. They aren't a junk meaningless, vacuous, valueless company such as Samsung. They stand for certain things which is great. They just need to live up to them.

    What are you talking about? Forget it, no need to reply. You're thinking lacks depth.
    ah, the FUD troll reveals itself. 

    there is no iPhone battery problem. it gets all day battery. it has the same limitations as all smartphones do with our state of battery chemistry. if your little nieces and newphews are running out of battery it's because they're using them more. I'd suggest a battery cover until such day that mankind discovers a better power source. 

    likewise, there is no storage problem. my family members are 100% perfectly happy with 16gb, because they don't need a lot of space. so entry level is well suited to them. if they had more intensive needs, there are more options for them to choose from, thankfully. 

    youre now complaining about apples first-party accessories, such as covers? please. that's scraping the bottom of the troll barrel. buy third party covers. 

    as for my intentions, you misunderstand them. I don't say what I say to defend Apple. I say what I say to correct and counter the stupidity. 

    sorry your life is so difficult, having been relentlessly victimized by Apple for so long. one day you shall triumph, of that I am certain my brother. be strong. 
    edited March 2016 baconstangjkichlineericthehalfbeecornchipwilliamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 48
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,271member
    Perhaps they'll introduce new pencil tips on Monday? Introduce a little friction would have been great. The current tips has got a little bit of friction when the pencil and the glass is absolutely clean. After first skin smudge contact though, there's absolutely no friction left.
  • Reply 14 of 48
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,112member
    the iPhone is the best selling product in the history of mankind, earning billions and billions 
    Um, no, it's not.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 15 of 48
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,144member
    Pro pads without pro apps are worthless.
    Final cut pro X, Logic Pro X, Xcode, terminal and all desktop class programs from Adobe etc. are missing.
    Hiking the price again is of course also deadly.
  • Reply 16 of 48
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,777member
    pmz said:
    You guys are delusional about the iPad. 

    The overwhelming majority of consumers do not care about Smart Keyboard or Apple Pencil or other so called Pro features. 
    Just like the iPad Pro 12" that garnered maybe a couple million sales from a niche of the tablet market, this 9.7" Pro model will scoop up a handful of holdouts that didn't want a 12" size or couldn't afford the price tag. It will also scoop up a handful of iPad Air 2 upgraders who have had their product for 1.5 years now. 

    I love MY iPad Pro, but I represent a tiny tiny subset of the market. 



    I see many people use the 9.7" iPad with keyboard / keyboard covers.  At the very least, I would think the Smart Keyboard would be of interest to those customers.
  • Reply 17 of 48
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    pmz said:
    You guys are delusional about the iPad. 

    The overwhelming majority of consumers do not care about Smart Keyboard or Apple Pencil or other so called Pro features. 
    Just like the iPad Pro 12" that garnered maybe a couple million sales from a niche of the tablet market, this 9.7" Pro model will scoop up a handful of holdouts that didn't want a 12" size or couldn't afford the price tag. It will also scoop up a handful of iPad Air 2 upgraders who have had their product for 1.5 years now. 

    I love MY iPad Pro, but I represent a tiny tiny subset of the market. 


    You may be right, though the Pro wasn't intended to chase market share. It's to keep and attract users demanding higher specs, new features. With the added pro lines, they may stabilize revenue and margins on a lower volume.

     We keep hearing what a success the Surface Pro is. Sales of iPad Pro alone were higher than the entire Surface line last quarter. This is likely in part due to it being a device and the holiday season. Still I think Apple has the right approach. They seem to do best when focused on the premium end of the market. Let Android and Amazon sell thier cheap tablets. MS and Apple will focus on the premium side where the profits are. 
    baconstang
  • Reply 18 of 48
    bb-15bb-15 Posts: 245member
    I disagree with the broad attack on Apple that I've read in this thread. I can accept their pricing but the rumor about the 9.7 inch iPad Pro is a crossing of a line which deserves criticism. - AFAIK there will be no updates to the iPad Air 2. It's a dead end, a 1 1/2 year old product which it seems will not get a price cut. And its replacement, the 9.7 inch iPad Pro is $100 more at entry level and an additional $150 if a customer wants more than 32 GB? How is this price increase going to boost iPad sales which have significantly fallen? I don't see it.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 19 of 48
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,752member
    There is nothing "pro" about a product that cannot run any pro apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. That's the bottom line. Apple's "pro" moniker is a distinction without a difference.
    Who gets to decide what determines whether something is "pro" or not? Apple can't use the "pro" nomenclature unless the product runs x86 apps? Says who? 
    baconstangwetlanderbrakkenadonissmu
  • Reply 20 of 48
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,144member

    After so many posts here on AI, I think it's your thinking that lacks depth.  

    The iPhone price, with 64GB of storage is $749 (I'm using U.S. currency, you're mileage by vary, but the argument I'm making remains the same).  For that you get a 64GB model of the iPhone 6S, a more capable, faster handset than you got a year earlier at the same price, and larger and faster than you got two years ago at the same price.  That's the first part of the bargain Apple has with its customers.  For years, the price of the product remains unchanged while what you get becomes more capable.  That's the bargain everyone gets in the technology space across all vendors.  Oh, and for customers who don't need as much storage, because maybe they use the cloud, there's a $100 discount off that price for a 16GB model, a phone with all the same performance and features of the 64GB model.

    How quickly some have forgotten how many stand-alone products a smartphone replaces.  Single-function cell phone, video camera, still-photo camera, portable video playback system/television, computer, radio, alarm clock, calculator, the list goes on and on.  Now how much would you pay?  

    These same people throw out an argument that Apple's handsets are so much more expensive than others, ignoring the fact that other vendors (Samsung, LG, HTC, etc) also sell premium handsets at similar prices.  Apple happens to sell only premium handsets; they don't also sell cheaper models like those other companies do.  

    And the same people conveniently forget the resale value retained by Apple's handsets, and the usable lifespan, both of which reduce the total cost of ownership.  Apple should be able to charge premium prices across its entire line of handsets because they are the only ones on earth that can readily take an OS upgrade three or four years in-a-row after they have been introduced.  An OS that offers better security than rivals, is more tightly integrated and therefore allows better performance while sipping less juice.  Apple takes the higher ground in the form of engineering its products to be more power efficient per unit of computing performance, allowing the company to deliver decent time between charges, comparable to its competition, with a smaller battery.  That translates to less aggregate volume [mass] of batteries ending up in landfills or needing to be recycled years down the road per million phones versus the competition, and fewer tons of coal burned (or whatever fuel is used in the power plants that provide electricity to the homes of Apple's customers where iPhones are being charged during their useable life).

    All of the above applies equally to Apple's iPad line.

    Tell us again whose thinking lacks depth.
    You are.
    iPhones are extremely expensive, the iPhone 6s espessially, it costs €859 (64GB) in Europe, that's enough to buy 3 laptops from the competition.
    Sadly it's battery life is a major complaint and lasts only one day (my iPhone 5s lasts easily 2 days), the estimated production cost is about $200 and that's similar to the iPhone 3s, buts it's €150 more expensive to buy.
    Apple tries to maximize its profits but sadly burns (which is an insult to its customers) its profits and seems to have an eye for shareholders only.
    They should sell the top end phone for $350 or less..
    edited March 2016 cnocbui
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