Reactions to Apple product launches are rarely reliable. Expectations are raised so high that they are rarely met. Last night’s new iPad launch was no exception. Is it time to cut the hype surrounding Apple products?
Apple rumours are far-fetched at the best of times, but mere hours before the event a new one appeared – the new iPad would have a ‘haptic’ feedback touchscreen.
What did this mean? That you’d feel the texture of items on-screen – i.e. a rough fabric would feel rough. This isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds – a company in Finland has showcased this technology – but it’s a long way from being ready and was all but fantasy for the new iPad.
Apart from that, most of the new iPad’s features were leaked beforehand – a fact that puts to bed Apple’s so-called ability to keep secrets. We knew the screen would be a ‘retina display’ – two times the resolution of the iPad 2. We knew the processor would be called the A5X, a sure enough sign that the upgrade wouldn’t be as radical as some previously thought. And plenty of other details were either predicted or hinted at.
Like a film trailer that gives away all the twists, the event was mundane in comparison to the things people *thought* the new iPad would do.
Beyond the iPad hype
Put aside the lack of surprises, however, and the new iPad is a strong evolution from the iPad 2. The significance of the ‘retina display’ is difficult to explain in words – it really does need to be seen to be believed. It has a resolution of is 2,048 by 1,536 pixels – that’s four times the number of pixels than the iPad 2 and a million more than an HDTV!
If you need an idea of the difference, simply find an old iPhone 3G or 3GS and put it beside the iPhone 4/4S. I was blown away by that comparison when I first saw it and the larger screen on the iPad will only amplify the effect.
But the other key feature of the iPad, its support for 4G mobile broadband (which promises wireless internet speeds 10x faster than 3G) sparks a pang of regret. Why? Because apart from a trial in Cornwall, the UK doesn’t have any 4G networks at present.
This extra fast wireless internet is widely available in the US, and Sweden and Norway are leading the way in Europe. But Ofcom says mobile networks won’t start deploying 4G in the UK until early 2013. Like the UK’s waning broadband network, this is another poor reflection on our readiness for the ‘digital age’.
This isn’t Apple’s fault, of course, but it does put a serious dent in the argument for buying a new iPad. As does the fact that the impressive looking new software will, with one or two exceptions, work just fine on the now discounted iPad 2.
None of this will affect Apple’s dominance of the tablet market – I fully expect the iPad to be dominant come this time next year. But perhaps next year people will have learnt to expect a little less, and enjoy the results a little more. We can but hope.