By all appearances, the most valuable company in the world has survived the first debut of a major product since losing its charismatic visionary of a CEO. While the product was in this case, an update of a best-seller, this first weekend that it was on sale was being scrutinized by watchers of Apple for any cracks that might appear in the company that the late Steve Jobs brought back from the brink only to make some of the most revolutionary and successful consumer electronic devices of all times.
As well as the occasional personal computer, of course.
Friday past was when the latest incarnation of Apple’s now iconic iPad went on sale for the first time. Much to the consternation of many, the company did not dub the new model with a number or other suffix to denote it being the next generation of iPad. It is neither the iPad 3 (to follow last year’s iPad 2 model) or the iPad HD (to denote the new model’s super sharp high resolution screen) or the iPad 4G (as it can optionally come with the latest high speed wireless technology, to allow you to surf the internet from damn near anywhere).
No, Apple officials insist you just call this new iPad simply…an iPad. A company spokesperson told David Pogue of The New York Times that the numbering scheme was not continued incrementally because ”That would have been too predictable.”
I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but that thought strikes me as if the top brass at Apple were sitting around thinking (as I am want to believe they do a lot these days) “What Would Steve Do?” From this mantra might well have sprung the idea that Jobs, a true genius of a marketer if not quite the visionary status in every other aspect of his professional life, might well have put his hands together and pressed the tips of his fingers to his lips and announced that this new iPad was so great that it should just be known as iPad.
This would be in much the same way as Justin Timberlake captures the essence of his character Shawn Fanning in one of the seminal moments of the movie “The Social Network”, when at the end of a lunch meeting with the founders of Facebook he throws out the premise that they should drop the use of the word “the” in their startup’s name. Timberlake, who is great as Fanning, is strolling out of the trendy sushi restaurant when he quickly turns back to the table and declares “Drop the “the”… Just “Facebook”. It’s cleaner.”
The cleaner named iPad is an improvement on what already was a device that is on its way to change the world–even more than it’s predecessor the iPhone has in its five successive editions to date. Steve Jobs said back in a 2010 interview at the Wall Street Journal’s “All Things D” conference, that plans to make the iPad began well before the iPhone, but the technology wasn’t quite ready and so the company went with the new phone device first.
That was an interesting admission, as Apple has had a history of trying to force out new devices with amazing promise that weren’t quite “ready for primetime”.
As for me, I really was happy with my iPad 2 and had sort of decided that I wasn’t quite ready to buy this newest edition of iPad on it’s debut day. While I could appreciate all of the new features added to a device that I quite enjoy using everyday, I was going to resist the temptation to feed my inner Apple junkie, not to mention raising my credit card balance and not spring for the latest and greatest. So I didn’t pre-order one on the occasion they were announced, just nine days earlier, and I wasn’t about to go stand in a line first thing on a Friday morning.
Particularly because I had to be on a plane first thing that Friday morning to go meet up with my daughter in Jacksonville, Florida and drive her home for spring break.
Upon picking me up at the airport, she asked no so innocently “So do you want to go over to the Apple Store in St. John’s Town Center and see if they have any new iPads left?” She also mentioned something about getting some lunch in the same locale. At least I think she did. In one of those inspirational moments of fancy that I so thank my own parents for instilling in me as one of the main things that makes life worth living, I didn’t hear anything after the initial question and instantly responded with a quick “Well hell yes”.
And off we went.
As it turned out, there was no line at this Apple Store, but the place was hopping and the t-shirt wearing, radio earphone sporting guy at the door (who appeared to be reassuringly closer to my own middle age) who appeared to be in charge of the proceedings, answered that they indeed they still had what we were looking for. In a now classic Apple store shopping experience, I had the object of my instant purchase decision and was walking out into the glorious Florida sunshine, in almost as little time as I had thought about making the purchase.
So yes friends, I once again cracked and succumbed to the spell that is what all things Apple have on me.
But in doing so and now having spent a first weekend with the new new iPad, I can at least helpfully answer that important question for you: “Should you buy one?”
The answer varies a little depending on your situation, and assuming that you are not as cravenly desperate as I appear to be, for anything with an Apple logo on it, let me guide you thusly in each case:
If you have an iPad 2, the biggest reason to upgrade is for the faster 4G wireless service. While the new screen is gorgeous and clearly an improvement over the screen in the iPad 2, its not like going from old TV to HDTV. (Particularly so if you also sport some vision correction like glasses or contacts, I’d argue.) The screen is great and there is a little snappier response overall, but the trade off is that the new iPad is a little thicker and heavier. It is noticeable to anyone who has carried an iPad 2. So if you have an iPad 2, and are happy with it, you won’t get a lot more than just speed out of the newer model.
If you have an iPad 1 (the original model) you probably are much more of a candidate to make the jump. Everything you love about the original model is much better in the new iPad. Weight is less than what you are used to, and everything else is a major improvement to what you already can’t live without in the iPad experience. Plus, you can always pass the magic along by recycling your still-perfectly-servicable iPad to a family member who will be quite delighted with your generosity (you’re welcome Sis!)
If you don’t have an iPad now, you may be the hardest recommendation to make. Yes, you absolutely should buy an iPad. Seriously for most real people, the thing is just that good–and I’m sorry to sound like such a fan, but the plethora of other tablet devices powered by various flavors of Android software just don’t even compare unless you are so anti-anything-Apple or such a geek that you’ll be happy being not a conformist. The only exception on that last statement I will make is for Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Barnes Noble Nook Tablet, and if you mostly want to read books and occasional look at the web, email or your Facebook page, these two devices–while limited in many ways–those are definitely worth considering for $200 each.
Otherwise, if money is the main driver of your decision, spend twice that and get a brand new iPad 2 for $399.
“Wait a minute!” I can almost hear you saying. Didn’t you just say the new iPad replaced the iPad 2? Yes, but Apple is keeping the iPad 2 for sale, but as an entry level model iPad. (think of it more as iPad ’10, along the lines of the trend of naming things by year, like the Olympics. Or anything in the 1960’s.) It’s a great device, at a really good price now. And it might even come down a little bit more with the inevitable sale price that might pop up at places like Target or Best Buy.
But if you want the best tablet device that is currently made, one that has already garnered top rankings and “Editor’s Choice” type acclaim in its debut, then yes–you should buy the new thing from Apple, the iPad ’12 (my name for it.) Assuming that you can find one in stock because these things are going to be selling like the proverbial hotcakes for the foreseeable future. Your only decisions will be how much memory space to get (there are three models having 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes at $499, $599 and $699 respectively) and whether or not you want the 4G wireless option, available for $130 more with service from either the ATT and Verizon networks. (One important thing to know about the 4G deal, you can’t add it later on but you don’t have to turn on the service which will run you from $20 to 50 bucks a month. And unlike your normal cell phone service deal, you don’t have to sign up for a 2 year contract, you can turn the wireless service on for just a month at a time, whenever you wish.)
And there we are. After this latest launch, Apple will likely continue to be the world’s most valuable company as they sell their new thing like crazy, at least until their next new thing comes along. The have survived this first important moment of the future after the passing of Steve Jobs, and naming conventions aside, they look as strong and innovative an enterprise as they ever have.
Let’s hope for all of our sakes that they continue that legacy for the foreseeable future.