The new iPad and same old criticism

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Apple is among the handful of brands in the world whose product launches are globally discussed media events. The routine before any Apple product launch seems to be: rumor, expectations, even more expectations, speculation, hedging of bets [predict that the new launch will be a failure in the hope that it can be turned into an ‘I-told-you-so’ argument later], rants and derision [from Android and Windows fans]. All this is played out in tech blogs, Apple blogs, social media [mainly Twitter], forms and ‘analyst’ blogs. Check out M G Siegler’s ‘The iPad HD Sucks’ article where he says, ‘pre-disappointment is the new disappointment’.

Once the product is launched, there is a routine too: disappointment from some quarters, elation from others, even more derision [from Android and Windows fans], rants and counter arguments on Social Media [mainly Twitter], analysis paralysis from tech blogs, forecasts from business blogs, prediction of failure from tech gurus and so on. Rinse and repeat until the next Apple event.

Amidst all this, Apple neither makes official statements about the new products nor does it defend itself in Social Media. All the defending is done on behalf of the brand [and voluntarily so] by Apple fans,  labelled ‘iSheep’ by critics. Thankfully, the lead time before such events has drastically reduced. The pre-launch hype of the iPhone lasted 6 months in 2007. Nowadays, the lead-time between rumor mills opening shop to product launch is not more than a month.

In this scenario, the new iPad was launched [a comprehensive overview of the features here]. The pundits, wannabe pundits, trolls, fans, Apple-haters have all joined the fray to dissect several aspects of the launch: the event itself, the brand name nomenclature, prospects of iOS as a business and so on. Some of the articles are written purely as link baits, like this one [see a good response here]. The discussions through comments or tweets range from objective, smart observations to venom-spewing hatred towards all things Apple.

My views on some of the peeves against Apple, iPad expressed by many over the last week:

Brand Name: many predicted that the new iPad will be called ‘iPad HD’ or ‘iPad 3’. I too was a bit surprised initially that Apple chose to simply refer to it as the ‘new iPad’. On hindsight, I think its the right move. The convention of naming devices by suffixing the version number or some gobbledygook is not common at Apple. Every new version of the iMac or MacBook Pro was just that – no suffixes or version numbers. Yes, they broke that tradition with the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4S, which could be an aberration. Consumers don’t really care about the version number and simply refer to it as the iPad and the ‘new’ iPad when a new one comes up. I expect the next iPhone to be simply the new iPhone and not iPhone 5. Jut calling it the iPad or iPhone has a tone of exclusivity to it – cueing a certain ‘definitiveness’. Also, remember the jokes around the name iPad when it was launched? Does anyone bother now?

The upgrade: Apple fans are laughed at for paying unnecessarily high prices for their iDevices when superior gadgets, with superior tech specs are available in the market. It reminds me of a character from ‘Goodness Gracious Me‘ the BBC series. It had an ‘Uncle Fixer’ whose mantra is ‘I could have got it for you much cheaper’.

The argument of a ‘better integrated experience’ with iOS devices just doesn’t wash with the Apple-baiters. And competition is hell bent on beating the iPad on its features – offering an USB port here, a Flash-enabled website there and so on. Farhad Manjoo says in this excellent article:

What if you make a tablet that includes all the stuff that Apple didn’t add to the iPad? That’s precisely what most competitors have been trying to do for the last two years, and it hasn’t worked. Part of the problem is that nobody really wants the alleged improvements to the iPad—Flash and extra hardware ports, for instance. The bigger problem is that, as a technical matter, rivals are having a very hard time beating Apple’s most important features. The iPad’s custom-made processors and battery technology mean that it keeps getting more powerful without sacrificing any battery life. None of Apple’s rivals has managed to even match the iPad’s battery life.

Apple has used its cash reserves to extract better prices from vendors, invest in in-house development of chips and so on. Which gives them an advantage in pricing. And thanks to a systematic integration and upgrade process of iOS and the various iDevices, competition [Android, mainly as of now] maybe left playing catch up forever. The last iOS version  was installed in 95% of the iOS devices. The latest version [5.1] is available for distribution from a single source [iTunes] and likely to be adopted by a majority of iOS users quickly. In contrast, 60% of Android are still on a version released in December 2010.

Source: The Economic Times

Despite all the criticism, whining and flogging, the iPad will continue to play a dominant role in the tablet market for quite some time to come. Sure, the market share is likely to drop thanks to a slew of tablet releases – both from Android and Windows Mobile. My gut feeling is that the toughest competition to Android will come from Windows mobile devices both on smart phones and tablets. And for an Apple fan, an enemy’s enemy is your friend – so I am hoping Windows kicks Android’s pants.

Do comment in with your thoughts.

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  1. Am an iphone user, my folks use the iphone as well, got an ipod to substitute the mp4. Dont have a MAC book but am sure that'll come home soon. We literally tge Apple family. Tge iOS devices have sophistication written all over it. The battery life is the sexiest thing about the iphone devices. Its amazing how much excitement surrounds an apple device. They've conpletely changed how people see technology but yes may windows beat Android's pant and then Apple kicks window's xP

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