/ 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 and usability though

“look at the shiny shiny”
🙂

Guest

Keeping software up-to-date is an important part of maintenance and that is easy on Apple equipment. The hardware is generally of a decent specification, and by the time an update is needed, technology has moved on so far that replacement is a sensible option.

Guest
Ian Paul says:
1 March 2011

I am always baffled when I read this kind of comment from a PC user. In what way is an Apple product not upgradable? I frequently upgrade RAM and have just fitted a 1 T hard drive to my MacBook Pro, and it was a breeze.

If you mean you want to build your own computer from scratch, fine–but what proportion of computer users are like this? The main obstacle to computer literacy in the average home or workplace is at a much lower threshold, and the ease of use Apple offers addresses this issue far more effectively.

In the average environment (as I think studies have shown) introducing Macs immediately improves productivity, not least because you can do most stuff in half the clicks. PC users seem to forget this.

Guest
Fabrice says:
28 February 2011

Apple delivers on the hype. They make quality products, over and over. They are way ahead of the market in terms of innovation. The iPad is a game changer. Everybody is copying it. What about Motorola or Microsoft hype? Ah but these don’t make quite as much traffic to your blog do they…

Guest

Hi Fabrice, I’m not sure I totally agree! Apple doesn’t always deliver on the hype, largely because most of the pre-launch coverage of Apple products is conjecture and rumour. Apple lets its ecosystem create the hype and just steps in at the last moment with a tantalising invitation to its latest event (and occasionally a leaked photo or protype ‘left in a bar’). Yes, Apple innovates, but does it innovate enough to have such adulation around each new product?

And yes, it’s true – write a blog post with Apple in the headline, and watch while the traffic figures escalate! Works every time…

Guest

I think that Apple truly is an innovator in hardware and software design; however, it is also true that there are too many tech blogs that give the company undeserving free press while there are other companies releasing products doing equally great things.

But you know what, none of that happens. I like the hype. It’s exciting and fun to be a part of. Yes, you could look at the iPad as a slightly bigger iPhone, OR you could see it as “Holy Batman, those data pads they use in Star Trek: TNG… You can get one of those now, and they’re even better than they were on the show!

Guest

There’s an observation I’ve been making for some time now and Apple really epitomise it with their constant quest for domination of the electronic fashion market.

So here it is – Humans like shiny stuff, simple as.

Apple know this and the hype is all about this. iPad 2 – definitely shinier than iPad 1 and possibly the shiniest thing available today. What does it do, who cares its shiny. What does it cost, who cares did I not mention how super shiny and slick it is. Will it be for the better of mankind – look its so shiny it will be your shining beacon in the sky. Just remember in 12 months time it will have become dull and we shall unveil the new shiny for twice the price.

Peurile I know but this is how the Apple marketing machine comes across to me. I admit I can admire the quality and the tech behind their various electronica but Apple’s defiant stand against being ‘open’ is what gets me.

Guest
Ruth says:
1 March 2011

For me the iPad is too shiny! Slightest bit of light overhead (sunlight or artificial light) and you can’t read the flipping screen!

That’s why I bought a Kindle to read ebooks on, rather than an iPad.

Still interested in the iPad 2 though. I never buy the first model of something – let other people put up with the teething problems and I’ll buy the second or third generation product a year or two later.

Guest

Hello dragilex, your comment about humans liking shiny stuff has been made our Comment of the Week! Congrats – your comment will be featured on our homepage for a full seven days!

Guest
Peter Hogben says:
1 March 2011

Pathetic story. You might consider that due to Marketing, as all traders in the USA use, Apple have become the second wealthiest Company in the World. People don’t fall for ‘Hype’ at the prices of such a device.

Guest
malcolm says:
1 March 2011

A l- you have a credibility deficit now with this statement… “Yes, Apple innovates, but does it innovate enough to have such adulation around each new product?”

imac
ipod
iphone
ipad
irestmycase.

Guest
George Allen says:
1 March 2011

I bought an iPad (3G, 64gig) as soon as it was available; I’ve used it every day since – and love it.

Underneath the hype generated by blogs and techy journalists is a really useful machine; let’s not forget that!

Guest
Peter Carter says:
1 March 2011

Some critics millions of users and devotees.
All products have their limits, all marketing aims to seduce.
I don’t pay £700 for an iPad without careful analysis of MY needs.
As a non technical octogenarian with deteriorating sight I find
that combined with my 27″ iMac it is brilliant.

Guest

They make cool stuff, but the price premium they charge for their products is extraordinary. Back when I was single I could justify going for an ibook over another brand when I need a laptop, these days the price difference just doesn’t stack up as a practical choice. The Iphone looks cool, but a £30 cellphone does what I need and I won’t cry when the screen cracks or I put it through the washing machine

Sometimes the folks at apple get carried away and just sound silly ie: Steve Jobs saying the ipad is the ultimate web browsing experience – but I want other richer folk to keep buying their stuff ’cause where apple go the other companies follow and eventually the £30 mobiles, £200 tables, and £400 laptops will have many of the features they pioneer.

Guest
Ian Paul says:
1 March 2011

I don’t agree. I dropped my Macbook on a concrete floor, and it carried right on working because it was built so well. Do that to a £400 Dell (to which you need to add at least £200 of stuff to get it to work as well) and you would still be looking for the pieces.

Guest
bechet says:
1 March 2011

Easily. The iPad, original or revised, does not attract me at all. But then I’m a dinosaur who doesn’t like touch screens. I don’t think Apple will be too worried.

Guest
Em says:
1 March 2011

There is a depressing commercial cynicism in the way that products develop. I wonder whether there will be anything about ipad2 which could not have been included when it was launched, ie in ipad1? Has technology moved so quickly in a year?
Still, it’s smart business. No doubt the ipad1 customers for whom ‘Why would you want to own something which is not the envy of others?’ is their depressing mantra will rush out to upgrade.
Ipads look pretty and maybe one day we will all have tablets until the next thing comes along, but I’ve yet to discover a reason to buy one.

Guest
Ian Paul says:
1 March 2011

I understand most of the frustration here about the hype–but hey, they live in California! What do you expect?

But what is more important is to watch the average user on a PC and on a Mac. With far less training you can do a lot more of regular tasks because the whole system is designed with the user (not the techy) in mind. This is the bottom line. Many studies have shown that productivity increases for many tasks with Macs, and in 20 years I have never lost a single k of data. I rarely meet average PC users who can say the same.

Guest

I don’t have an Ipad or even an Iphone, mostly because sad old git that I am I use a mobile for making calls. So called convergent technologies are getting better and if anyone is ever to crack this “Holy Grail” of one device that replaces your PC, Laptop, Smartphone, SatNav, Digital Camera,TV on the move (3d presumably!), MP3 player in one device about the size of an Ipad, I would put my money on Apple, others will probably try to do it before them, but the first really usable device will almost certainly come from them.
But at the moment there is no 160Gb Iphone so my Ipod stays, as does my SatNav, the Iphone one is good but not as good as a dedicated one.
Premium prices, sure, but consider this, since 1984 I have had just 4 Apple desktops, each upgraded a bit until such time as there was a big enough jump in specifications to justify a replacement, I have just pensioned off my Lasewriter IINTX after 20 years use. All these items were expensive at the time.

My wife who is a PC user replaces her PC about every 18 months or so and laptop, which admittedly has a very hard mobile life about every 12 months or so, they are only 4 or 5 hundred pounds each, but I’m in no doubt that in the end over the last 27 years I have spent less money on hardware, without really feeling that I have been stuck for performance.

I used to be evangelical about Macs, now I accept that PCs are here to stay, some good things about them, some bad.

The hype over Apple’s products seems odd. There are those who will buy it simply because it is Apple and equally there are those who won’t buy for the same reason. Their stuff is good enough to stand on its own merits, and given the longevity of their products, only those with seriously deep pockets will buy every iteration of one particular product. For the “early adopters” Apple technology has always had its appeal dampened by the premium prices and my guess is that will never change.

The idea that Apple is now a bigger company than MS still amazes me, but that has only come with the advent of Ipods, Iphones, Ipads et al, they have successfully diversified out of their essentially niche market desktop computers, and created markets that never existed and maybe to do that you need a certain amount of hype!

Guest
Damien says:
2 March 2011

I have an image of your IINTX shuffling off into the sunset, and it made me think (and smile) about another reason why Apple is good for me – quality. The quality of the build, the quality of the specification and most important of all – the quality of their after sales support.

Apple products may be designed in California, but they have a British beating heart (in design) and embody the best of Chinese traits: ambition, curiosity and respectability.

I agree, PCs are here to stay but I am yet to find a company to match Apple, specifically regards customer support. I use a PC at work and have literally lost count of the problems my PC has on a daily basis, requiring frequent IT support. I have no such problem on my Mac at home.

Guest
Graham says:
3 March 2011

Yep, I agree it’s total hype. It’s a sad reflection on how materialistic we are when we get so worked up about a device which is, in essence, no different from what it is replacing. So it’s a bit faster and a bit thinner. Big deal!

By the way, there are two comments I don’t get. Firstly, all these people that say Apple products last longer… My Celeron PC that I built 12 years ago stills works absolutely fine and at a reasonable speed. Okay I did spend $100 dollars upgrading from Windows 98 to Windows XP at some stage in the past, and okay I have since bought a newer, faster PC for watching TV, blu-rays and video editing, but that doesn’t alter the fact that my 12 year old computer still works fine. All these peoples that say Apple products last longer and Apple products work better – huh? I don’t get what you’re talking about. I’ve never had any major issues with my PC, nor any problems with loss of data, or any hardware problems. Most PC owners upgrade frequently not because they have to, but because they can because PCs are cheap.

And secondly, all these people that say that Apple is an innovator in hardware. What does that mean? They don’t build their hardware – they buy it from the same hardware companies that other computer and phone companies use. All Apple does is package that hardware in a certain way – and they don’t even often package it in a new way, rather they package it in a way that has previously been unpopular but now make it popular. That’s Apple’s greatest achievement. They know how to create a market – that’s what they’re really good at. It’s not that their hardware or software is unique or particularly innovative; it’s that their ability to market hardware and software is unique. Take the Ipad for example. Tablets have been around for ages, from way before the days of the Ipad. Apple made tablets popular, but they were hardly the innovators who created the concept and hardware…

Guest

With a mischievous grin may i just point out the announcement is just hours away 😉

Guest

With an even more mischievous grin, may I point out that, just hours ahead of the iPad 2 launch, rumour and speculation about the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 are now rife.
The former could apparently be arriving later in 2011 and the latter might be giving us all something wonderful to look forward to this summer.

Guest

I know, Al. I clocked the gadget websites all of a flutter earlier and I did chuckle!

Perhaps a chat in the near future about whether the iPad 2 is a worthy “upgrade” – or indeed much of a muchness & not worth the hype? 😉

Guest

Twenty minutes and counting before Apple’s on stage with the iPad 2. If you want to follow the event live, you can do so with the guys at Which? Tech: http://www.which.co.uk/news/2011/03/apple-ipad-2-launch-event—live-report-245970/

Guest

So, the iPad 2 pre-launch hype comes to an end, Which? has a first look iPad 2 video review live, and my colleague Andy is hailing iPad 2 as a ‘non-revolutionary king of the tablets‘. But what do you reckon?