Amid all the sexy profiles and innovation found in Apple's unveiling of the new iPad Mini, iMac and, especially, iPad Fourth Generation unveiling was a whole lot of revisionist history.
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First of all Apple “replaced” a product they introduced just seven months ago: the iPad Retina. Apple never called it that. Instead it was “The New iPad.” At least Apple is willing to call the latest “New” iPad, the iPad Fourth Generation.
Obviously, people who bought the "New iPad" are upset. Apple CEO Tim Cook, though, was a gleeful, "Earlier this year we introduced a third-generation iPad with a retina display and today we replaced it with a fourth-generation iPad." For some, he might as well have said "we replaced Grandma with fourth-generation Grandma and she’s ten times better!"
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Forget You Ever Saw This
Inside that fresh iPad are some new parts that’ll make it run faster and, naturally, it now features the new Lighting connector. Apple is clearly working overtime to rid the world of 30-pin connected devices.
Well, sort of.
Oddly, the company will continue to sell the iPad 2 at the exact same price. This is, I think, so they can still run their adorable “Heart and Soul” TV ad, which puts the iPad 2 in a virtual keyboard-playing duet with the iPad Mini. If you tried to do this with the iPad mini and the iPad Fourth Gen (or even the step-child iPad Third Gen), the Retina display on the new iPad would make the tinier keyboard look ridiculous next to the iPad mini’s screen. The iPad mini and iPad 2, however, share the same 1,024 x 768 screen resolution.
The New Perfect
Most rumors about the iPad mini were pretty close, but not exact. The mini has a 7.9-inch display, which is slightly larger than the 7-inch displays on Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD. Apple founder Steve Jobs always contended that the 9.7-inch iPad display was the perfect size. Now Apple’s Jonathan Ive is calling the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch screen “the exact right display size.” (Well, at least it’s a reverse of those perfect numbers.)
Apple’s Phil Schiller even had the temerity to say that one of the things that makes the new iPad mini special is that you can hold it with one hand. The slimmed-down iPad 2 (and the very similar, now defunct iPad 3) was touted as an easier-to-hold device. As far as I know, many people, including me, hold the iPad with one hand and gesture with the other. I’m not saying the iPad Mini won’t be easier to hold -- all smaller-screen devices are -- but this is not the primary benefit of the iPad mini, is it?
Steve Jobs famously said the company did not build a 7-inch iPad because he didn’t believe that screen size “could properly express the software.” Obviously, though, 7-inch tablets are not, as Steve Jobs once said, “dead on arrival” anymore. So rewriting a bit of history here makes sense.
$199 Is Not Magical
Apple is also willing to ignore recent history.
By introducing a $329, 16GB, 7.9-inch tablet, Apple is essentially dismissing the rest of the market and the obvious success of competitors like Amazon and Google have had with $199 devices. Sure, Apple could argue that its tablet offers 4G LTE (at a higher price), while the majority of these devices offer only Wi-Fi connectivity. On the other hand, most, like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD outstrip the iPad mini on screen resolutions, baseline storage (or upgradeability) and NFC capabilities.
Delivering a competitive product at a non-competitive price is a risky proposition, at best. If $199 is, as Steve Jobs once called it, "the magic price," then what’s $329, the "awesomely more expensive, yet just-as-magical price?"
On the other hand, this is Apple. It not only can afford to ignore history, it can change its course (see smartphones, laptops and MP3 players). Apple products still have that intangible allure.
With its silver or slate-black back, this iPad mini is going to look a lot like the beautiful iPhone 5. Place that next to, say, a Kindle Fire HD with its plastic back and, well, the iPad mini might be a bit more appealing.
Apple did manage to impress and surprise me today. The super-thin iMac is a vision to behold. At 0.2 of an inch thin, it’s actually thinner (yes, you read that right, thinner) than the iPhone 5. That’s impressive. And Apple did surprise me with the iPad Fourth Generation. I like surprises, but then again, I’m not an iPad Third Gen owner.
When you’ve had the kind of success Apple enjoys: 100 million iPads sold, 35 billion apps downloaded, 3 million units sold of a device no on really believes is necessary anymore (that would be the Fifth Gen iPod), I guess you can afford to put aside the history books, mostly ignore the competition and anger millions of customers with a single announcement.
At least that’s what I assume Apple is thinking.
What do you think? Can Apple afford to keep doing things its own way? Was this a good day for the company and its relatively new leader Tim Cook? Let me know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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