The New iPad is a big deal, don’t get me wrong.
For Apple, it represents a clear push forward in their Post PC strategy. Even the decision to bring the iPad in line with their naming conventions for PC’s (This is the “Early 2012” iPad) represents a shift: It subliminally says to consumers that finally, iPad is on par with, and could even replace for the right person, a computer. For consumers, this upgrade looks to further drive home the point that the iPad is the tablet to beat. Apple’s competitors are likely in shock at how much attention and buzz a product with no noticeable exterior upgrades from last generation has garnered. Clearly there will be plenty of sleepless nights in Seoul, Mountain View, and Washington State as each major competitor examines their respective strategies.
To my eye though, the latest iPad is kinda a bummer at first glance. No real design changes, no big software changes, there’s not a lot to make one seriously go “wow” here. Yes, the Retina Display represents a improvement in screen quality, and is a technological tour de force itself. However, I’ve never had an issue with “seeing pixels” on screens, and the way iOS handles the increased resolution results in the user essentially having the same screen “real estate” as before. If it gave me more room to work with, perhaps my curiosity would be piqued more.
This lack of innovation is seems to be a trend with recent Apple announcements. Where’s the cool physical design? Where’s that super obvious hook? Maybe its just me but when an iPad catches my eye, there’s still shades of a dated iPod Touch or iPhone in its design. The software also “feels” similarly dated, a point that my esteemed colleague made. That’s a bad thing because it dimishes the product’s cachet a bit. Other tablets do not slavishly resemble their phone counterparts. Even the HP Touchpad manages to change things up a bit.
It would have been great to see a new iPad that perhaps changed up the physical design a bit, maybe finally got rid of the physical home button, a screen that gave you more real estate, or a stunningly low price point for the iPad 2. Perhaps software that allowed for new concepts in multitasking like windowing? Something that really pushed the bar demonstrably forward in a way that no one could have predicted.
Then again, does Apple really need to do that at this point? Lines were as long as ever last Friday at stores across the country. Many people who waited out on tablet purchases are finally choosing, and they’re choosing Apple. Samsung has even admitted that their performance in the tablet market has been, in their own words, “…not very good…” For reference, they’re likely number 3 in terms of sales, and were likely number 2 before Amazon’s cut price tablet, the Kindle Fire came to market. The specs, while not exactly on par with the Android competition, are definitely 2012 worthy. Most important of all, the tablet specific software is there, an area where Android is still lagging behind.
Perhaps iterating is sending a stronger message to the world than I thought.