After almost every Apple keynote I like to step back, try to see the big picture and get my bearings on where Apple is positioning itself and its products. A way to review things we saw that were surprising as opposed to things that were expected. Here are my first impressions of the Apple media event, which was already dubbed “iPad mini Launch” event by many in the tech press, but which surprised in the diversity of its additional announcements and thus turned out to be more significant, in my view.
First off – what did we see? As usual a well polished, if not a tad predictable, sequence. We are now used to Tim giving us a rundown of impressive stats and showing clips of happy Apple customers and Phil giving us a rundown on the innovations in detail.
The iPad mini has been let out of the bag. We essentially got a smaller iPad, available from $329. Apple chose not to mention the fact that Steve Jobs had once lambasted a smaller sized screen (albeit 7 inch) and just went all out and touted its top performance, its almost 8 inch screen and its handy size (it can fit in one hand!). No Retina Display. Hmm. Then Phil Schiller chose to compare it in depth to a Nexus 7. This part was quite curious and did not work for me on several levels. I felt they did not need to point out the “deficiencies” of a competitor to make their point and sell their product.
Apple also chose to upgrade their “normal-sized” iPads, introducing the iPad 4th generation. In mid-cycle. The pattern till now has been a spring upgrade for iPad, a fall upgrade for iPhone. They’ve chosen to speed up the pace. As Tim pointed out, with iPad “we know we are just getting started” and “we are not taking our foot off the gas”. Indeed. The 4th generation iPad is the only one with a A6 Chip, retains 10 hours battery life, and features Facetime HD 7020p, Expanded LTE, 2 x faster wifi, and lightning cables. It’s better and faster for the same price. Game on!
And so we have a new iPad family. On the website the iPad 3rd generation has been replaced by the 4th generation, alongside iPad 2 and iPad mini. All available for wifi or cellular, in black or white, in 16, 32 or 64GB sizes.
To me this felt like a declaration of war from Apple, directed at the iPad killer wannabes and to the critics who do not expect the iPad success story to persist much longer. Apple is closing the gaps, choosing to offer a smaller, less expensive iPad to those who had been hesitant till now or to those eyeing Kindles or Galaxy tabs. Parents will most certainly love the smaller iPad. Heck I’m buying one for my mother (bless her!) so she can play Draw Something and Words with Friends. There is no reason why this will not sell like hotcakes, especially for the Christmas season.
Tim Cook’s exclamation “People LOVE their iPads!” sounds just about right in the context of the tablet wars, and Apple has just delivered the ways and means to make MORE people love iPads. Those 100 million iPads sold to date had better move over to make room for some more.