/ Technology

iPad 2 – there’s nothing to see here but hype

Apple event advertisement

When and why did we start trying to second guess new products months before launch? The never-ending circle of hype centred on Apple only offers fuel for journalists to keep the flames of consumer interest burning.

Have you heard? This Wednesday evening a man is going to stand on a stage in a convention centre on the west coast of the USA, and talk about a glass, metal and silicon device he’s holding in his hand.

His audience of thousands will rapturously applaud, while retelling the story on smartphones and laptops to millions of adoring worshippers across the world.

A pilgrimage of journalists will simultaneously be watching the same man via a live video link-up to London’s BBC TV Centre. This glorious and reverential moment is the climax of months of enforced secrecy and rumour management. Ladies and gentlemen, this week we will witness the birth of the iPad 2. Please do not faint with excitement.

More of the same

An Apple product launch is the ultimate hype-fest. Let us not forget that the product being unveiled will not change the lives of every man, woman and child on this planet, as an alien observer might incorrectly surmise from the fuss being made.

We are talking about the successor to a product which, a year ago, held us enthralled by its ability to let us do what exactly we could do before but on a different-sized screen. This year: probably more of the same.

Looking back a hundred years, did the newspapers devote swathes of column inches to what Henry Ford might or might not announce as a follow-up to the Model T?

Were there ‘exclusive’ pre-launch etchings printed showing us that its windscreen was slightly larger than on the original? Or that it used a new type of oil? And didn’t the automobile change the world more than an updated tablet computer ever could?

Are you caught in the hype?

Why now, does society succumb to the clouds of hot air guffed out by PR firms, and in this case, Apple HQ itself?

Just as air-freighted fruit makes the passing of the seasons inconsequential, now the tech calendar can be divided up simply into an endless cycle of pre-launch rumour and post-launch analysis for iPod, iPhone, iPad and iTunes.

As a tech journalist I ought to be caught up in the hype. I am who the hype was created for, after all, so I can breathlessly pass it on via print and online to a public who will lap it up like their lives depended on it. Except I’m not, and I don’t.

I am a cynic and I say there’s no logical reason to get excited about the iPad 2. It’s just a product. Some will like it enough to buy one. Some won’t. Move on people, there’s nothing to see here but hype. Ignore the man on the stage in San Francisco at 6pm GMT on 2 March.

Comments
Guest
Emily says:
28 February 2011

While I’m an Apple fan in general, I couldn’t have cared less when they launched the first iPad. And though I have enjoyed using one on occasion, I still can’t see the need to spend £450 on a gadget like this. So I find myself unable to dive two hoots about the iPad 2 launching.

Guest
Emily says:
28 February 2011

I couldn’t GIVE two hoots, that is.

Guest
Damien says:
28 February 2011

I am a slave running the gauntlet of Apple’s phenomenal PR and marketing machine. I will be glued to hash tag #ipad2 awaiting the news of the best features and benefits the Cupertino crowd has to offer.

Will it make me smarter, faster and stronger – probably not, but I don’t really care. Apple products are for me and many others, aspirational facets of glimmering beauty.

Why would you want to own something which is not the envy of others?

Guest
Emily says:
28 February 2011

I’m not denying they’re nice; I can just think of about 100 things I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on.

Guest

I think there’s a lot of hype about Apple products for two reasons. First there’s a lot of people who simply love the fit and finish of Apple products. Second, Apple often realise products and services that are new or market defining, so give everyone a glimpse of where other manufacturers may be heading over the next year.

Consider this: when was the last time HP/Dell/LG/Levono etc announced something genuinely new or exciting? Apple introduce the iTunes music store, now everyone has a music store. Apple push a very consumer-friendly App Store to mobile devices, now all the other platforms have app stores. Apple make a decent tablet (rather than the poor previous efforts by Compaq/HP) and now just about every manufacturer has decided they need a tablet.

If Apple never did anything worth hyping, then the hype would have died out ages ago. Microsoft/HP/RIM etc often spend a lot of money trying to create hype, they just rarely have the products to warrant it.

Guest

The hype, for me, has a part to play.

A short while ago, i contemplated buying the iPad.
However, I was aware – through media hype – that a new generation iPad was due out.
Therein, I started to research what the media thought the new iPad might offer as an improvement to the current version.

I accepted that it was all speculation but it gave me points of view to consider.
What did people want to see added to the new iPad? How might I use those (hoped for) improvements / were they necessary to my purchase decisions? etc.

I think “hype” has its place.

Guest

Hi Cat – you make some very good points. I think there’s a big difference, however, between discussing the features that the original iPad lacks, and wildly and endlessly hypothesising about whether its successor will have them. And, as you rightly say, having some idea what the future might hold is useful when deciding what and when to buy.

And while my piece was prompted by the imminent launch of iPad 2, and Apple are, without question, masters of the art of hype, I think product hype and rumourmongering is a far wider issue that is fast getting out of control!

Guest

(PS. Also curious why we should “Ignore the man on the stage in San Francisco at 6pm GMT on 2 March.” – surely at that point, the hype gains some substance…?)

Guest

Apple, in my view is computing for dummies.

Non upgradable, non maintainable

but

Great design, easy to use, you mum could use one.

So whilst the hyperbole and PR campaigns are designed to create the image of the “enlightened, intelligent person” who buys their product, the opposite is actually true due to the almost idiot-proof operating system and lack of customisation that is available.

I do not own any Apple products as I want control of my computer/phone/music and I prefer the customisation that PC’s and Android phones offer.

Just my opinion, I know others will disagree as Apple is now a world phenomenon. You have to hand it to them for design