It seems that all everyone in tech land wants to talk about right now is the new Apple iPad 3 The New iPad – Apple. Sure it’s only called the “iPad” from now on, but we’ll have to use something to denote the different versions. After picking up the unit yesterday and holding it, using it and most importantly looking at it, away from the hype and hyperbole of the launch, I’ve come away with a perspective on the new iPad that talks more to Apple’s business model than the product itself.
After all, the new iPad was always going to present a conundrum for Apple. After trailblazing the tablet path to dizzing heights of success, the original iPad was seen as a revolutionary shift away from traditional PC use into a more mobile, touch-oriented gesture activity. The second iPad added incremental improvements like a faster processor, a thinner and lighter body, and front and back cameras.
The new iPad takes a similar incremental upgrade path, essentially looking and feeling the same as the previous iPad, but improving the processor, upgrading the camera and moving to a mind/eye-blowing display that can’t be recreated on paper or on film – it has to be seen in real life to be appreciated.
The new iPad, and each iPad before it, was never just about the product, even though articles, blogs and segments are devoted to the intimacies of the hardware. The key word here is usage.
The original iPad made it easy to consume books, internet pages, movies and games without having an awkward keyboard attachment. With the second iPad, gaming became more important and FaceTime became an activity that could be achieved on the larger screen.
Now, with the upgrades Apple have made to the new iPad, the Cupertino company now seeks to change and modify usage again, and in doing so expand its base. Imagine how many millions of school kids around the world could replace their multiple-kilogram text books with an iPad? How many doctors and technicians around the world could be using the hi-res display to analyse X-rays, look at circuit diagrams or engineering models?
And that is really the core of the changes that Apple has made to the new iPad. It looks like they have gazed on the world, decided to play in new markets (or was already planning to), and worked backwards until they settled on their new product.
It could have gone something like this – school kids, doctors and engineers would all use the iPad if it were able to mimic the printed word and image in terms of quality. So, let’s make the pixels dense enough that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. To do that, we’ll need to improve our processing power, and to do that we’ll need to improve the graphics processor. And while we’re at it we’ll add the lens system from the iPhone 4S to give a better quality on board video recording to round out the feature build-up.
The publishing and entertainment industry must be unable to contain their excitement, because what Apple has done is potentially overhaul the digital content business model – not in distribution terms, as they’ve already created and made that model a success. It provides movie houses and magazine/education/technical publishers an opportunity to expand their revenue stream, and in doing so make the Apple iPad 3 the new iPad the default device for not only web browsing, games and reading, but also reference aids for countless industries that struggle to deploy information other than printed magazines or newsletters.
The product is the vehicle. The new iPad is that vehicle, and all because of the new display. But don’t take my word for it, check one out yourself. And through that display, the 3 million pixels staring back at you are representative of the massive opportunities for Apple as a content distributor and for content developers/creators the world over.