So as much as I don’t want to turn this blog into “All Apple, All The Time” news, some things just can’t be helped. In this case, the iPad 2 was announced yesterday, and this morning I was met with a bunch of articles regarding the new device. One in particular that caught my eye was entitled, “What Apple hopes you didn’t notice about iPad 2” by Mashable.com’s Chris Taylor.
By the way, this is Chris’ picture to the left (from his Twitter account), and aside from the fact that he’s showing 200% more chest hair than I like in my “tech reporters” – I also take issue with the core argument he makes in his article. You see, the iPad wasn’t some flawed device that needed a ton of changes to “turn it around” in the marketplace. Quite the opposite. The original iPad blew past even the most ambitious sales estimates – most predicted between 2 and 7 million units for 2010 – in moving some 14.7 million by the end of last year.
So instead of critiquing the things Apple did include in the new iPad, Chris’ article takes the hypothetical stance that Apple was trying to “hide” something while unveiling the latest version of a product that actually sold better after six months of being available to the public. So while many companies probably would have waited until sales had dipped on their original device, Apple made good on their reputation for annually “rebooting” it’s devices, but is also trying to pull a fast one on electronics buyers? It’s simply doesn’t make any sense.
So yes, even though Taylor comes clean with disclosure that, “Yeah, I want to buy one, too,” I can’t help but think his thinking is faulty – as are his “list” of items that Apple supposedly should have fixed:
1. Apple’s 30-pin Connector
Taylor’s first argument is that Apple should have dropped the 30-pin connector that’s been around since 2003. He uses the argument that, “In a device that’s supposed to be about effortless connecting, and a world that is moving to cloud syncing, this is an increasingly clunky throwback.” But is it? For those of us with MobleMe accounts, the world of “cloud syncing” is already here. My calendars, contacts, and other information syncs effortlessly behind-the-scenes. However, the 30-pin connector is used form time to time to transfer HD movies which would take forever even on my high speed connection – let alone how it would affect those who share my household network.
Not to mention that the 30-pin connector is used primarily as a recharging tool – or did Chris want Apple to invent “cloud-based” charging too? Oh, and before we forget, let’s also remember that there’s hundreds of devices and companies that create products for that 30-pin connector to actually add features to the device. Heck, Steve Jobs even introduced a HDMI-Out Adapter – that uses the 30-pin connector to share the screen to a large-scale monitor – during his speech yesterday, but maybe Chris missed that part?
2. How Much Memory the iPad 2 Has
Chris wants to make a big deal out of the fact that Steve Jobs didn’t divulge the amount of RAM that comes in the new iPad. Rumor has it that the iPad 2 will come with 512mb, which is twice what the original had, but you could also say that it simply comes with “enough to run iOS efficiently”. After all, I haven’t heard of original iPad owners complaining of a lack of RAM, especially in light of how it handles multitasking on “as needed” basis. Does it matter that some other tablets are shipping with more RAM? Only if it improves the overall user experience, which I don’t think it will. Plus, the Motorola XOOM makes you pay through the nose ($799 entry price) for the luxury of having it.
3. A Retina Screen For The iPad?
This is one of those rumors that gained some traction early, but didn’t amount to much. But that didn’t stop Chris from touching on it as if the screen upgrade was a must. “Contrary to what the rumor mill had been expecting, there was no improvement in screen resolution — meaning the iPad 2 is already lagging behind the iPhone 4, with its much-touted retina display,” he stated. But I’m not totally convinced of the need for a “double resolution” screen for a device that measures just under 10-inches. As for the iPhone (and it’s 3.5 inch) screen, the high-res screen was a nice addition – but the iPad already crams 1024 x 768 pixels into a 9.7″ screen. Heck I’m currently typing on a 22″ desktop monitor with 1920 x 1080 resolution, and I don’t see people arguing for high-res monitors? Or am I missing something?
4. Holding Back Innovations?
Mr. Taylor ends his article by accusing Apple of “holding back” innovations in order to maximize an “iPad 3″ launch next year. But couldn’t that be said about every device that’s ever launched? After all, this isn’t about cramming everything you can into a tablet to “wow” technology reporters. It about striking a balance between introducing innovations, and creating a device that people will actually purchase for the amount of money you’re asking.
And with that said, Apple achieved these goals with the iPad 2:
- They added two cameras (VGA on front and 5MP back) which will bring FaceTime and HD video recording with it.
- They doubled (at least) the processor speeds of the original iPad – adding 9x the video performance.
- They doubled (reportedly) the amount of RAM to 512mb.
- They added dual connectivity to 3G Networks (Verizon and AT&T) to every 3G iPad.
- They added a three-axis gyroscope for additional features in games, apps, maps, and anything else developers see fit to use it for.
- They made it 33% thinner, as well as flattening the back for better flat-surface usage.
- They made it 15% lighter, while keeping the battery life the same.
And oh yeah, they did all this while keeping the price the exact same as the original? That’s right, for just $499 you can get yourself an contract-free iPad and access to 60,000+ apps developed especially for the device.
The only “competitor” in the current marketplace is the Motorola XOOM which, contract-free, will set you back some $799 for their device (or 60% more), and you will have access to the 100 apps (or .2% as many as the iPad) made especially for the tablet.
And trust me, that $300 difference and the lack of apps is something that Apple hopes you didn’t miss when you consider buying a tablet.