iPad

There were a few people complaining about the new iPad. Apparently it wasn’t innovative enough. That a faster processor (presumably more RAM), 4G networking (and faster 3G), quad-core graphics, Bluetooth 4, 1080p video recording and pushing 4 times the number of pixels (Retina Display at 2048×1536*) while still maintaining the battery life and the same cost is not innovation.

The iPad was revolutionary because it consisted of a screen with a border. The screen was everything. The screen was the gateway to the magical software that runs on the device. Not the Apple-supplied Springboard but apps like Pages, iPlayer, pUniverse, The Elements. The software changed the entire purpose of the device with just a tap. That was the magic and that is, in my opinion, the singular reason for the success of the iPad.

Which is why the most important part of the upgrade was the Retina Display and the quad-core graphics processor to push those millions of pixels. The singular magical feature of the iPad just got four times better. Not ten percent better, 300% better. The touch interface will be just as accurate but the pixels which make up the display will be, for nearly every instance, invisible to the naked eye.

Tim Cook made a big deal that none of their competitors managed to beat their Retina Display in the iPhone nearly two years later and none managed to beat the iPad to release with a similar class of display. As the screen is the most visible part of the device and in many ways; is the device ; it surprises me that none of the competitors have bothered to improve the most important part of the device.

Technology journalists can’t just embrace the success. They get eyeballs from presenting jeopardy so every headline is about how Apple still needs to look out for a series of unlikely competitors because one of them is bound to unseat the Cupertino giant. They wanted the iPad to debut with haptic feedback, fold out keyboards, anti-gravity repulsors and the ability to transform into a pony. They’re also seething that their puerile predictions that it would be known as an iPad 3 or iPad HD were also torpedoed. And they’ll rail in their little gilded cages about how the device will only appeal to the Apple faithful; an assertion that if true, means there are millions of new faithful followers appearing each year. In truth, they’re just angry about being wrong. And they’ll take their anger out on Apple by writing glowing reviews of third rate plastic tablets running outdated versions of second rate software. Or in touchy-feely tones about how Apple was better, you know, before Steve died.

I’ve been a long-time user of Apple equipment and software. The equipment was the only way to get to the software and the software, nomatter what you may have thought of it, was worth paying extra for. I’ve always had the choice of software and hardware over the years due to working for a couple of huge corporations but I came back to Apple every time because it was simply better. They understood what I wanted out of a computer and they still do.

People will buy the new iPad in their millions as they have in previous quarters. The new lower priced iPad 2 (£329) willow, I predict, further push Apple into places they could never have considered before.

* Putting that in perspective, Apple’s 27″ display costs twice as much as an iPad and offers 2560×1440.

0 thoughts on “iPad”

  1. Since when has Apple produced a “significant” upgrade a year later on any device? This type of tech needs to evolve and yearly cycles suit that. It might not seem amazing, but I fully expect to be blown away. I was with the upgrade from iPad 1 (which I recall “only added a crap camera”).
    iPad’s are not multitasking devices, so it’s all about the graphics and software. My iPad 2 was becoming my de facto machine, the new iPad (aka 3, HD, 4G) will become my primary computing device.

  2. Sorry, still an Apple-hater…

    Apple haven’t innovated since the release of the original iPad, and even that is questionable as the Tablet PC concept was pushed by Microsoft ten years earlier. Apple just saw a market opportunity revitalize Microsoft’s idea (which was way ahead of it’s time) thanks to a decade’s worth of advances in touch screen technology finally making the concept feasible.

    As for these incremental improvements – It’s not innovation, it’s Moore’s Law. Components get cheaper (lower cost) and manufacturing processes get smaller (less power draw). Plus Apple mirror the styling road-map of the Volkswagen Beetle. This is why people are distinctly underwhelmed.

    “Tim Cook made a big deal that none of their competitors managed to beat their Retina Display in the iPhone nearly two years later” – And I’m sure Apple have exclusivity contracts with any suppliers capable of producing screens with such a low dot-pitch to ensure it stays that way. They sure do have the pockets to indulge some anti-competitive practices…After all, the biggest player in the world of flat screen displays is Samsung, who just happen to make the line of Apple AX CPUs.

    People will buy the new iPad in droves, but not Apple are such great innovators, but because Apple are such great marketeers.

  3. Worse than an Apple-hater, a Microsoft apologist 🙂

    There were lots of failed tablets on the market before iPad, not just from Microsoft. Apple produced their own failure in this market in the 90s.

    I am going to be amused at the MILLIONS of distinctly underwhelmed people buying MILLIONS of uninspired iPads. And you honestly think its all down to marketing? Really? And you’re not sore about the whole “killing Flash” thing? 🙂

    (I’d go into more about the weird paranoia regarding anti-competitiveness but …I run out of words)

  4. Microsoft apologist – One of the rare occasions where I can write lol, and actually mean it…

    Were you also equally amused at the MILLIONS of people buying MILLIONS of computers running Windows? It is all down to marketing….

    I’ve gotten over the flash thing 😛 but I’ve actually hated Apple for a long time prior…pre-iPhone, because of their ridiculously over-priced hardware, post-iPhone, because of their insidious closed ecosystem, …And more recently because industry is now being driven by grandma’s low-level computing requirements.

    Weird paranoia? Do you really think Apple is run by saints? Since the formation of the tech industry companies have, intentionally or inadvertently, indulged anti-competitive practices. Apple is no different.

    1. Simon – grandma’s low level computing requirements?

      Information Technology can’t be allowed to remain the sole domain of the neckbearded priesthood. It needs to be easier – I work with special needs charities and they need their clients to be able to use computers too. Just yesterday I was talking to a Special School who want iPad apps developed. Am I to tell them to learn the command line? Obviously not. No, they want to meet app developers who do not have attitude about this stuff. So, lose the attitude.

      Computing is still hard, programming is still hard. The priesthood still has power. But it is in servicing the market.

      And again, don’t use “anti-competitive” unless you know the conditions it applies. Competitive is the word you’re searching for. Every company does things to stay competitive. Anti-competitive is a specific term that only applies in the case of monopoly abuse. (and as Apple is still > 20% of the market it certainly doesn’t apply).

      By saying it is all marketing, you’re implying that millions of people are stupid, including your developer peers and brilliant surgeons, Fortune 500 CEOs and eminent scientists. Is that really the message you want to give out?

  5. Someone doesn’t get it.. if Apple becoming the most successful company in the world isn’t enough to persuade someone, it’s clear the old personal bias due to emotional investment is at work. “I’m right, because I can’t possibly admit I’m wrong, not even to myself!”

    1. I see this a lot in the tech news – from Samsung, Acer, Asus, DELL and most recently from Andy Rubin at Google: “The customer has been fooled by marketing and needs to be educated to stop them buying iPads and get them buying our stuff”

      The reality is that the non-discerning customer is the primary market for Android. Yes, some folk buy because they want something specific and done but because of an unreasoning hatred but most Android purchasers would have been sold Symbian five years ago. Android just replaced it as the low end choice.

  6. Just two years ago, when the original iPad was released, Apple prohibited third party tools for iOS development. This meant, as a developer, I would have to invest in, not just an iOS testing device, but also a Mac to get access to X-code. Not to mention the time I’d have to invest in learning Apple’s Cocoa. Oh, plus a yearly license fee, almost forgot – That’s over £1000 I’d have to invest to develop for a platform that would take 30% of my earnings for the privilege. I’m sure the licence agreement would have remained that way to this day had the Federal Trade Commission and US Department of Justice not pressured Apple to amend the agreement by threat of…what was it called again? Oh yes…an antitrust investigation 😉

    Apple have become the most successful company in the world by putting massive markups on mid-range hardware, and inflated revenue cuts. They also cut costs by sharing components across their product lines e.g. the new iPad’s new CPU is actually the old CPU from the old iPhone 4S, and it’s new camera is from the even older iPhone 4. How innovative!

    Yes, this bulk-buying does make them more competitive, but I still assert that it makes them anti-competitive too. Their most successful competitor, Samsung, are uneasy bedfellows with Apple in supplying the CPU for a device that has 57.6% of the tablet market share (not <20%) down from 94.3% (94.3%!!!) at launch. And don't forget that the 39.1% share that Android now has is split over multiple companies, so none will approach Apple's buying power any time soon.

    Matt, I'm all for simplified software and accessibility, it's my job after all…I believe your original post was about hardware, and that's what I was referencing. The mobilization of computing puts the innovation onus on low power consumption, not on raw computing power. I lament this market shift in the same way I lament the games industry being held back by the popularity of consoles with 7-year old hardware.

    Oh, and please don't put words in to my mouth by saying that if I disagree with you then I must be implying that you, and by extension everyone who agrees with you, is stupid. That's a pretty underhanded and inflammatory debating technique.

    But it is all marketing, stupid 😛

    (sorry, couldn't resist)

    1. Apple didn’t prohibit iOS development, they just hadn’t got the public SDK ready. I know this because I know some of the guys who work there. Apple were simply not moving fast enough for the market. It was a big risk for them.

      No-one forced anyone to write iOS apps. You were not forced to invest £1000 in a Mac or give away 30% of your revenue. In fact, Apple said (in 2007), “make killer web apps”. The problem was that people wanted native apps.

      The license agreement hasn’t changed substantively. And there was never any suggestion of an anti-trust investigation except in the fevered minds of uninformed journalists. For anti-trust to be even considered, you have to be operating from a position of monopoly. So, please, do a little research. The was no threat but the FTC has to take every complaint seriously so they said they were investigating if it was needed. They said it wasn’t needed and the DoJ was never involved. Facts, man, stick to the facts.

      Apple have become the biggest (by market cap only) due to simple economics. “Make stuff people want to buy. Spend less than you make”. Sharing components and taking big risks on your supply chain is just good business _when it pays off_.

      Buying stuff your suppliers want to sell is not an anti-competitive practice. Think about it. No-one forces Samsung to sell to Apple. They do it for the money.

      If you think that this is all marketing, then you are absolutely implying that people are being fooled by smoke and mirrors. The product is solid, better than the competition and has a thriving ecosystem of third party developers who make money at what they do, aren’t afraid to take a risk on a new platform and reckon they can make 100x that risk if they just put their head down and write great apps.

  7. We’re talking 2010 here. The public SDK was released two years prior.

    “The problem was that people wanted native apps.” – Exactly, because Javascript couldn’t access the native hardware, which is why no one wanted web apps. There was a practical necessity to develop native apps to be competitive, and to do this you needed Xcode, and for that you needed a Mac. And that’s called – Tying.

    Both in your original blog entry, and in your last comment you’ve dismissed journalists who disagree with your opinions as either being facile – “they’re just angry about being wrong” or delusional – “fevered minds of uninformed journalists”. As the likes of TechCrunch and Ars Technica have much more public exposure, and are consequently much more vulnerable to libel cases than a regional blogger, I’d imagine they would be careful to verify their sources. So I do have to ask – What’s your source? How do you know that this widely reported story, and the follow-up stories stating that Apple could avoid the antitrust investigation by changing the licence agreement (which they did for some odd reason) was simply made up?

    I think you’re over simplifying the economics. It’s one thing to buy stuff from your suppliers, and it’s quite another to buy all stock from all suppliers (as Apple did with NAND flash chips). It saves money to buy in bulk, but at Apples scale, it also increases cost for the competition and places limits their available resources.

    This is why other manufacturers are struggling to compete with Apple products, spec-for-spec, at a similar price point – There used to be scores of competitors when the tablet market was in it’s infancy, now it’s reduced to an oligopoly. Apple have the purchasing power to drive their own costs down, while driving their competitors costs up, and out of the market. And that’s called – Limit Pricing

    And finally it is a Good Enough product. But have you noticed that since the release of the original iPhone Apple’s hardware margin has doubled? They obviously had an iterative update road-map in place that was asynchronous with Moore’s law. So either their purchasing power has driven their costs down by half – bad for the entire hardware industry, or each incremental update is slightly worse value than the last – bad for the consumer. It’s probably a bit of both, and so it’s bad for both.

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