Apple's iPad 3: redefining 'different'

Summary:By the time you read this, you'll already have decided what you think of the iPad 3 - or iPad, as Apple calls it. Apple says that it "reinvents the category", using the following adjectives in the first four paragraphs of its press release alone: stunning, amazing, amazing, amazing, unbelievable, incredible, unbelievable, incomparable, powerful, incredible, superb, stunning, incredible.

By the time you read this, you'll already have decided what you think of the iPad 3 - or iPad, as Apple calls it. Apple says that it "reinvents the category", using the following adjectives in the first four paragraphs of its press release alone: stunning, amazing, amazing, amazing, unbelievable, incredible, unbelievable, incomparable, powerful, incredible, superb, stunning, incredible.

You may agree, cursing the English language as you do so for not having more words fit to describe this latest miracle. You may think it's another of Apple's incremental upgrades, and "faster and prettier" are all that's needed from the dictionary.

New iPad

Does the 'new iPad' reinvent the category? Or is it just faster and prettier? Image credit: Josh Lowensohn/CNET News

What the new iPad isn't, is different. That sums up the whole launch, where the greatest change the post-Jobs company dare try was playing Adele instead of Dylan. The same price points were wheeled out, squeezing as much gold out of flash memory as the Vikings ever did from the monasteries. Minor product, major product, bunch of demonstrations? Check. Another huge blast of marketing? On its way. It's ironic that it took so long to get cut and paste onto the iPhone, given their central role in Apple's product refresh strategy.

Given the incredible, incomparable, superb, stunning, etc, success Apple's had with that strategy, it's not hard to see why tampering might seem unwise. But this is the last time they'll have the luxury of not even pretending to try.

The original iPad was launched in 2010, three years after the iPhone. We can reasonably expect there to be a new class of device next year, not just because of Apple's fondness for following the Jobsian playbook but because the iPad 3 represents a number of evolutionary dead-ends — pinnacles, if you prefer.

For a start — the screen. It is a thing of beauty and, until everyone else gets one that's just as beautiful, the new iPad's major grace. It is so high resolution that the eye cannot distinguish the pixels in normal use. So, what do you do for an encore? 3D? Haptics? A screen on either side? It's a measure of the lack of options that these have all been seriously proposed in the rumour mill as sensible things for Apple to do: what it can't do is make a screen that looks any nicer. It's done.

Likewise the networking. 70+ Mbps, Apple claims, on the right LTE network. You won't get that. But you'll also be waiting a very long time for anything that's even nominally faster: the switch from 3G to 4G will be with us for a while.

The interface? It hasn't changed that much since the first iPhone. Apple got that right. There isn't much to fix that isn't fiddling for its own sake: voice, maybe, with Siri left in reserve for next time.

However you cut it, there's not much 'more of the same' to come. What happens next will have to look different, behave differently, do a different job.

That will be Apple's first real test under new management. If the next launch is another cut-and-paste of this one, then legitimate questions will be raised about the company's willingness and ability to decide what it wants to be next, to evolve in a changing world. There wasn't even the slightest hint of that this time round: not one.

As someone once said, think different.

Topics: Emerging Tech

About

Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.