Thursday, March 08, 2012

Now that I've had a look-see

So "The New iPad"is upon us. Last night's blog post talked about what I got right - an essential part of punditry! Today, I'll talk a little bit about What It All Means (the other ingredient). This will be brief, since nobody pays me directly for this stuff and I have work to do today. But I think it'll get the point across.

First of all - there are already a host of stories out there about how this is an "underwhelming" upgrade. Ignore them. It's mostly page view trolling. Realistically, Apple isn't going to go crazy with spec upgrades in a single year. Why? They don't have to. What Apple is doing as the dominant player is setting the bar. In order to get any traction, competing makers have to meet or exceed the specs of the iPad while undercutting the costs.

Virtually none of them can do that. The Nook and Kindle Fire are competitive, but in a market that Apple is choosing not to play in directly. Apple's way of attacking that market is by keeping the iPad 2 and slashing the price - the iPad 2 is very competitive with the older generation hardware that the 7-inch tablets are mainly built with. So the new iPad model is mainly targeted at tablets that don't exist yet. Just like the iPad 2 was a year ago.

First-mover advantage for Apple lets them skate to where the puck is going, and then already be heading elsewhere by the time the other players arrive. (I know that's a little tortured, but it's early and I haven't had coffee yet - bear with me)

Besides this, is it a compelling upgrade? Well, I think so. If you are a new buyer Apple has the best screen anywhere, 4G capability, and the best ecosystem. They also have the best prices in the 9-inch category. If you have an original iPad this is enormously faster and has a great screen, at lighter weight. If you have an iPad 2 the new model is faster and brings the new screen to the party. Is it evolutionary? Of course it is. But when you get it mostly right the first time you don't have to do a ton from year to year. Just keep it out in front.

In terms of features, we have the added horsepower, the drastically improved screen, more RAM, and Nuance dictation built-in. I'd say that gets us by for now.

One other thing worth noting - Each iPad is basically good for 2 media events per year. One for the hardware, and one for the next version of the software. And the media event for the software won't be until June. This iPad ships with iOS 5.1, an incremental upgrade to last years' iOS 5. And a host of new/improved apps. That's enough for now on the topic. More after I have one in my hands a week from now!

(lastly, for those following my other career - I'm not worried about iPads for the city, because I've already got my own... I'm just worried about the software suite.)