So, Apple just threw a bunch of numbers and specifications at you. Yeah, it is a new iPad. So what? Nothing about the rumor cycle heading into the third generation iPad had me excited. Honestly, I am probably not going to buy the new iPad. Well, not anytime soon. But, as we noted earlier today, you probably will. My colleague Dan Frommer will explain later today why the third generation iPad will be the most important product Apple releases this year and will sell two to three times better than the previous two iPads ... combined. If you have never bought a tablet before, this is likely going to be the one that you do buy.
There are a variety of reasons that the new iPad will one way or another end up in your hands. The mobile revolution is well upon us and smartphones have become commonly accepted purchases for all demographics. Tablets, the big brother of the mobile revolution, have not yet reached that type of ubiquity. If we have been waiting for a tablet to tip the scales towards mass consumer adoption, this is it.
When Apple released the original iPhone in 2007, it was seen as many as a novelty. The iPhone and to a certain extent the iPhone 3G were in the realm of early adopters: technology enthusiasts, young and well-to-do consumers. That started to change with the release of the iPhone 3GS. That was the first mobile device that Apple that found its way into the hands of everyday consumers. It was also the first time that Apple started discounting a previous generation that was comparable to the new version.
My mother did not buy the original iPhone. Nor did she get a 3G when it came out. Yet, when the 3GS was launched, both my parents bought iPhones. My father got the iPhone 3 and my mother the 3GS. Both still use those phones. As an early adopter, you know that something has hit the real mainstream when your parents jump on the bandwagon.
A similar consumer cycle will be followed with the third generation iPad. The early adopters that did not want to buy the iPad 2 for cost reasons will see the new iPad as a significant upgrade and it costs exactly the same as they spent on the first one. People that have not bought an iPad or any type of tablet before will see the distinct difference between with the new iPad's retina display and the 200,000 apps and decide that it is a device they can afford to take a leap on. Hey, it is an iPad, what could go wrong? The consumer market has proven that the device is worth shelling Apple your hard earned dollars.
Creating Market Ubiquity
You know the greatest thing about the third generation iPad? The fact that the iPad 2 now starts at $399. Apple did this with the original iPad when the second generation came out but it was not quite the same. The iPad 2 was such a large jump over the original iPad that it made the first generation look like a prototype. In terms of technology, style and ubiquity, the iPad 2 was the tablet that really started pushing slates into user hands. The iPad 2 is still a great device, almost enough to make the third generation look like a luxury.
What Apple just did to the tablet ecosystem is set the bar just a little bit higher. To even enter the market, any competitor is going to need to approach the simplicity, power and price of the $399 iPad 2. The Kindle Fire beats any iPad on price but, as I have noted several times before, it is an inferior piece of hardware. Nothing from Samsung, HTC, Motorola or BlackBerry approach "killer" status when placed next to the iPad 2.
And now here is the new iPad.
For consumers, great options from Apple now abound at price points that fit. Competitors are going to have to either come up in the market to match the iPad's specifications or come down in the market to match its price across two devices. Just by doing what it does, iterate products and make them appealing to the consumer, Apple just guaranteed that you are probably to go to it first when shopping for a tablet.
Those Pesky Specs
Is it just me or does anyone else think resolution of a 9.7-inch device is basically irrelevant? If I am buying a television from Samsung or Sony, yes, I want to know the pixel count in the same way I would be counting threads on Egyptian cotton bed sheets. For a tablet? Heh, as long as I can see what is happening, I am not too concerned. The third generation iPad has a "Retina Display" (I hate the buzzword names) of 2048x1536. To many this is certainly going to be a selling point. Yet, if you are in the market for a tablet, pixel density should be taken into account but not your deciding factor. Apple also updated the camera to 5 megapixels. This is nice but if you are buying a tablet for its camera qualities, you are buying a tablet for the wrong reasons.
The next impressive spec if Apple's rollout of 4G LTE in conjunction with 3G HSPA and CDMA technologies. LTE makes life easier on a tablet but basic data connectivity is the key for a tablet. Speed and efficiency are the key and Apple recognized this with the new iPad. The new A5X processor that runs the iPad was designed specifically with these two advances in mind. Apple took a jump with the new iPad but not as big a one that many people had hoped.
If those last two paragraphs lost you, the short answer to the questions of hardware is: it will work like you want it to work. That is what Apple is good at and it will deliver with the new iPad.
Bringing It Home
I have been hard on Apple in the past for releasing iterative products. The third generation iPad is an iterative product. The fact that it is now called "the new iPad" infuriates me because, as a tech writer, I now have to constantly refer to it as either the third generation iPad or "the new iPad." It will be harder to search for information on the Web because every tech sites search engine optimization for "iPad 3" or "iPad HD" just got completely bull horned.
I am not inspired by the new iPad. Not like I was with the iPad 2. Do I eventually want to replace my iPad 2 with the third generation? Probably. I may just hold on to my iPad 2 and buy an Android tablet worthy of consideration (yes, those exist with a few great ones in the pipeline for later this year from what I hear). Just because I do not find this newest iteration inspiring does not mean that it is not the perfect device for the tablet ecosystem at the perfect time. It absolutely is. The third generation iPad will be the seminal moment in the evolution of "post-PC" computing, the tablet that is delivered to the masses. As a consumer, it is nothing to shy away from, especially if it works as advertised and meets consumer expectations of what an iPad should be. There are no indications that it will not.