Thoughts On The New iPad

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Screenshot of Apple keynote

This is a guest post from frequent SAI commenter Sammy The Walrus IV. It was originally posted on his blog AAPL Orchard.
Software and Hardware

Why has iPad been so successful?  Intriguing software?  Gorgeous hardware?  After using iPad 2 for a year, my connection with the device has been formed by the seamless interaction between software and hardware.  The iPad form factor seemingly disappears as I interact with iOS apps. Meanwhile, iPad competitors have focused on only one aspect of the software & hardware duplex; either shipping OK software (“OK” can be an overstatement) with mediocre hardware, or OK hardware (again, I am being generous) with buggy software. The new iPad’s improved hardware features, along with new apps, combine to form a package that can appear to be “magical” to the user. 

Motorola RAZR Syndrome

One of the bigger risks Apple faces is the “Motorola RAZR Syndrome”, or reliance on your current success at the detriment of your future success.  After three generations of iPads, it is clear that Apple understands its biggest competitor is Apple. The new iPad’s biggest competition will come from iPad 2, while the original iPad was iPad’s 2 biggest competitor. Even though the original iPad sold well, Apple continued to push the envelope with iPad 2, and now the same can be said with the new iPad. Cameras, a Retina display, faster guts, amazing software, improved battery life, and 4G LTE, all at the same $499 entry-level price point.  

iPad 2 Price Drop  

Although Apple devoted only a brief minute to iPad 2’s new $399 price, consumers will give the $100 price drop much more attention.  For many, price remains king.  While $399 is still a lot of money, consumers are starting to compare iPad to regular laptops, in which the $399 price tag doesn’t look nearly as steep. Similar to the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 being bought by former feature phone owners, the iPad 2 will continue to sell well as laptop owners look at iPad for the first time. 

More iPads in the Wild?

Up to now the iPad had been looked at as largely an “inside the home” device, confined to the living or play room.  With the original iPad not having any cameras, using an iPad at a social event, such as a family occasion, picnic, or concert, was questionable.  Apple’s new video and picture software (and improved cameras) will give people a greater incentive to bring iPad to different gatherings and events.  While iPad is still no where near as convenient to transport as iPhone, it is easier to transport than any other computing device.  As more iPads find their way into the wild, a whole new marketing realm will kick in.  While advertisements can be effective, seeing friends or family enjoy their iPad outside the confines of their home represents a brand new marketing angle. 

Jony Ive and New Product Form Factors 

The new iPad’s form factor has subtle differences from iPad 2 (the minor variances might even be hard for a normal consumer to see or feel). While Apple’s SVP of Industrial Design, Jony Ive, is intimately involved in any form factor change, no matter how minuscule, my gut tells me we might see some interesting new form factors for most, if not all, of Apple’s product lines over the next year. I think this is what Tim Cook hinted at at the end of the new iPad’s unveiling when he said, “Across the year, you’re going to see a lot more of this kind of innovation. We are just getting started.” What is the point of changing form factors that seemingly don’t need to be fixed?  How much can you change a phone or tablet form factor? Apple doesn’t settle. New product form designs will focus on greater functionality and feasibility, all while keeping design at the forefront. Dimension barriers will be dismantled. A new round of product design and manufacturing innovation is on the horizon and Jony is guiding the ship.

For more on Apple, Disney, and Facebook follow Sammy on Twitter.

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