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David Poland

By David Poland

THIS Is The iPad Now: Apple & The Name Game

David Carr tweeted today, “Not one for Steve worship, but doubt latest miracle from Apple would have shipped without one critical accessory: A name.”

And it immediately struck me that this should be discussed. Because I would argue that this is about Apple, probably from when Jobs was alive and in charge, realizing that they are maturing as a business and that their mobile products – and the rest – are no longer just for the must-have-day-one crowd.

I started noticing this in other Apple product lines about a year ago. Changes were announced and sometimes promoted. But for the customer who was not obsessing on every footfall at Apple, thinking about buying an iMac meant buying whatever was on the sales floor that day/week/month.

People scream about the IPad and the iPhone… but what is the status of the classic iPod? You can still buy one. No pictures. No video. But the only portable product from Apple – aside from laptops – with over 64g of space. iPod Touch? It has pretty much everything the iPhone has except for the phone and wireless/no-wi-fi data… which also means a minimum of $600 a year less in phone and data service costs. The Nano has all but killed off the Shuffle. Both less than an 3/4 of an ounce, but the Nano has a million more tricks.

All of these products have evolved and all have been under the radar. Changes haven’t been secret, but without making a fuss, no one comes to the Apple store and complains that they miss the older, heavier, slower versions.

But back to the big show items, I see this as a step by Apple to mainstream their products. They love the free promotion they get with each new variation on the product line. But they have saturated the obsessive adapters and made real inroads into the mass population.

Now, instead of feeding the monster of the new constantly, it seems they are removing as much of the “I got this new thing but it will be obsolete in 6 months” conversation as they can. There has been more real innovation in the operational software than there has in the hardware lately. So instead of iPhone 5, you get iPhone 4S,,, which by the way, isn’t branded a 4S on the phone itself. And now, for the first time, a new version of the iPad without an added name, like iPad 3 or even iPad 2S.

Of course, the distinction is clear. This is the 4G version of the iPad. Screens a little better. Camera’s a little better. Processor is a little faster. But mostly, the 4G vs 3G is the big change. And that isn’t the kind of game changing difference that went from the iPad to the iPad 2 (on & off by cover, rear camera, front-facing camera allowing Skype and Facetime, significant processor upgrade).

The signal is clear to consumers. THIS is the iPad now. You can still grab an iPad2, barely months since it was widely available without a wait, for $100 less. But just as Apple did with the iPhone 4S, you can buy a 4… but only smallest size, 8 gigs in the case of the iPhone 4… 16 gigs in the case of the “old” iPad 2. So if you want a 32 gig or 64 gig iPad, you may be able to find something on the gray market, but officially, they no longer exist. THIS is the iPad now.

The obsolescence of PCs became a running gag. Anyone who tried to run ios4 on an iPhone 3 or ios5 on an iPhone 4 or, for that matter, a lot of the apps built for ios5 on a 1st gen iPad knows that nothing much has changed. The newest applications and new operating systems are making older hardware quite unattractive quite quickly. But by not numbering their way into this problem, Apple is now keeping the conversation amongst people who are already owners of their equipment, likely to upgrade as the experience is upgraded…. maybe not every generation, but certainly every other one, every 18 months or 2 years.

But if your kid has finally convinced you that you (or he or she) needs that Apple product to go on living and you walk into the Apple Store after March 16, THIS is the iPad, THIS is the iPhone, THIS is the iMAC (at 27″ or 21.5″ and nothing in between or bigger or smaller)…

Don’t think about it. You’re in Apple nirvana. Only a small percentage of owners will feel compelled to own the newest version of everything the day it launches (or before). But don’t mind them. Come in. Buy the brand hardware. It will be different in 6 months, but you’ll be fine. No one needs to know your generational number. It’s your first iPad. That’s enough.

10 Responses to “THIS Is The iPad Now: Apple & The Name Game”

  1. alex says:

    Interesting that no other tablet maker has the desire or ability to really challenge the ipad. I really enjoy mine, but I do see that Haleron has a new 9.7 inch tablet with 10+ hours of usability and Android 4.0. could be the battle of the 4’s until OS5 is out for a while and bugs worked out, but then again Android 5.0 is on the way for the battle of the 5’s. Price tag is about half that of the iPad. The Haleron device has the same screen as the ipad, the battery power, and a faster processor plus more RAM. So whats the big difference? I believe Content! Apple has a great Content program!

  2. Brian says:

    No no no I want to know if I have the iMac XVII lol

    iPad is a great device. Until the tech allows it to go thinner or holographic or some other radical change, there’s not much that needs changed beyond the speed/power.

    Some of the disenchanted tech press seem like they’d be happier if it was the same insides with a new body on it.

  3. JS Partisan says:

    Alex, you do realize how wrong that statement is right? They have been cranking out very fast and very efficient tablets for months now. Verizon advertise the hell out of them, and it’s not like they suck. Hell, Vizo apparently have tablets coming out that are fantastic, but Apple will probably always dominate the tablet field.

    Seriously, this could be a Gameboy situation (how Nintendo dominates portable gaming and has for almost a generation), where Apple always has the edge in the tablet field. They will eventually lose out to Android with phones, but always having the edge in tablets should make up for it. Nevertheless, I wonder if not changing the hardware so much is Tim Cook trying to make amends for everything at FOXCONN he helped to set-up?

  4. bulldog68 says:

    Still doesn’t run flash.

  5. vikram333 says:

    I would argue that the new screen with 4x the pixels is more important than LTE. That screen is amazing. And as always with Apple, its the software that truly leads.

    The iPhone and iPad lines are maturing. No one buys the Macbook 28 or the iMac 15. I don’t know what Carr is talking about.

  6. JS Partisan says:

    Come on, BD! THE WORLD IS GOING TO GO ALL QUICKTIME ONE DAY! IT WILL! THE SPIRIT OF JOBS WILL MAKE IT SO, after he individually apologizes to every single FOXCONN employee that his design whimsy led to exhaustion or worse.

    Seriously, if Jobs were still the guiding force behind this company, do any of you think we would not be on Iphone 4 and Ipad 3 by now? Cook has basically slowed down the production side of this company by keeping the design of these devices basically the same. This probably does not make those freaking factories any better, but it has to have some effect on how those employees are driven every day.

  7. SamLowry says:

    Actually, based on the This American Life story that revealed the conditions at FoxConn, exhaustion would be preferable to being kicked out in your 30s because you’re already crippled by carpal-tunnel and arthritis caused by the working conditions.

    As the story points out, we expect the work to be done by robots in factories, but in China it’s all done by hand. Everything, because the amazing breakthrough they’ve made over there that allowed the plastic-to-glass screen change in less than 6 weeks is that they’ve figured out how to turn human beings into robots. And when you’re no longer as young and efficient and healthy as you used to be, you’re gone.

  8. murdocdv says:

    Just wanted to clear up a few technical points. I’m an iOS app developer, I live and breath this stuff all day long:

    – iPod touch has Wi-Fi. It’s an iPhone without the phone (cellular radio), though there are a few other technical differences, that’s the big one.
    – iOS 5 runs great on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 1, iPad 2, and I’m sure new iPad. iOS 4 did have some problems on iPhone 3, but that pattern doesn’t repeat for iOS 5. Apple’s doing a very good job keeping the OS backward hardware compatible.
    – Apps can be for iOS 5 only, or for newer devices only (e.g. no iPad 1), or both iOS 5 and newer hardware only. Most developers are trying to maintain compatibility with 2-3 years worth of hardware. Vast majority of apps will require iOS 5.x by end of this year.
    – iPhone 3GS, nearly 3 year old hardware, still ships in significant volume today since its $0 on contract. It comes with iOS 5 standard.
    – new iPad’s screen isn’t a little better, its a ton better. It’s twice, that’s 2x, the resolution of the iPad 2. As an analogy, its 1536p.

    Read this for an example from someone that have seen it:

    That all said, I agree with your larger point on the naming. Regular people don’t care, at least initially. I do think not affixed something to the name makes these things difficult to talk about easily without confusion.

    Another thing to consider, Hollywood is shipping NO content that will look pixel perfect on the new iPad, not movies or TV shows. 1080p is 1920×1080 resolution, new iPad is 2048×1536. Apple just got most movie studios to give them 1080p, how long until Hollywood can or will deliver something that looks perfect on the new iPad?

    New Apple TV will stream from Netflix/download from iTunes Store 1080p.

    Here’s some technical analysis of how Apple is delivering 1080p from the iTunes Store without a massive size increase over the 720p they previously had:

  9. Don R. Lewis says:

    I was going to point people to that THIS AMERICAN LIFE story as well, glad you beat me to it. It was fucking intense and left me with a feeling of despair but then, because it’s a great program, they talked about that despair and I felt a little better. (Essentially, these people in China are still better off than before with hands and joints that don’t work than they were in the rice patties. Which is the real issue aside from white guilt. But anyway).

    I also read the Steve Jobs bio a few months back and it was really enlightening to me in terms of how much the Apple design is what makes the product somewhat more dominant. Jobs and Apple designer Jony Ive were relentless in making their products as simple and as subtly gorgeous as possible. Aside from those multi-colored iMacs a while back, I never really noticed the beauty in design that was so attractive when the product matured.

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