iPad, iSight, iTunes, iBored: Why the new iPad does not inspire

Apple iPad tablet

Like many millions around the world, I tuned in to the Apple event last night (okay, I was watching a quickly updating twitter feed) with excitement and anticipation. I’m not a big fan of Apple, and do not own any of their devices, but I have to admit that when they call a press conference, with the exception of the iPhone 5 that never was, they normally announce something that makes people sit up and say “Wow!”, and their competitors keel over, grimace and groan. However, after the announcements of last night I think Samsung, Microsoft and others will be breathing a proverbial sigh of relief.

For those of you that don’t already know, let me summarise what the new iPad (not iPad 3 or iPad HD as some claimed to know) has over and above the previous models:

  • Retina Display – An eye-watering screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, or 3.1 mega pixels. This exceeds the resolution of many laptops and desktops.
  • iSight 5 megapixel camera – Improved upon from previous devices, this camera now has a comparable resolution to most smartphones and can shoot 1080p video. It does lack any flash device.
  • A5X Processor – Not a quad-core device as some had expected, but still twice as powerful as the iPad 2.
  • LTE & 4G Optional – Very high speed mobile data standards that will gobble up any data plan. Not much use yet in the UK as these networks barely exist.
  • 10 hours usageĀ – As with the iPad 2, it will work for 10 hours between charges if not making use of LTE/4G, achieved via a larger battery.

That’s about it for the hardware. A few cutesy new software features have been added such as the ability to dictate rather than type (although whether this turns out to be a gimmick is yet to be seen), and surprisingly no Siri support. A version of iPhoto can now be found on the iPad used for manipulating your pictures.

So what’s wrong I hear you say? Well, nothing really. The new iPad contains no surprises, it is simply evolving in the same way that similar gadgets do such as laptops and smartphones. I guess the surprise is the lack of surprise, there was much talk of some amazing new features such as a haptic screen display (controllable textures so that you can ‘feel’ objects on the display), but nothing materialised that was not very predictable.

Apple has a lot of history to live up to as market innovators, and their ability to create markets that previously did not exist. There is nothing really ‘new’ about the ‘new’ iPad and that is what disappoints. In the new iPad there is also a hint that Apple are resorting to techniques used by the competition in terms of quoting statistics: higher resolution, bigger this, faster that – which works well for why you might want to buy a Samsung device over an HTC device for example, but it has never really been a tactic that Apple has felt a need to resort to before. Consumers who care little for technical specifications buy Apple products because they are cool and easy to use. PeopleĀ for whom numbers are important are more likely to buy something else.

Last night could turn out to be a milestone for Apple but for all the wrong reasons. In the future will it be identified as the turning point where Apple lost its ability to innovate? Let’s hope not, as the market needs its innovators. Let us know your thoughts. Will you be buying the new iPad? Are you an Apple fan but are disappointed by last night’s announcements? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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