For Apple's new iPad, it's (r)evolution, baby

For Apple's new iPad, it's (r)evolution, baby

Summary: Thinner, lighter, more productive. So what? With the next-generation iPad, there's a bigger storyline underway.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iPad, Tablets
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ipad-mini-oct2013-top-crop-620x350
Photo courtesy Apple

Once a company develops a great product that enjoys a monopoly, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, it begins to concentrate less on innovation than protecting its turf.

"The Mac user interface was a 10-year monopoly," Jobs told Steven Levy in Newsweek in 2004. "Who ended up running the company? Sales guys. At the critical juncture in the late '80s, when they should have gone for market share, they went for profits. They made obscene profits for several years. And their products became mediocre. And then their monopoly ended with Windows 95. They behaved like a monopoly, and it came back to bite them, which always happens."

Jobs, ever the instigator, couldn't help but add: "Look who's running Microsoft now," referring to chief executive Steve Ballmer. "A sales guy!"

We know how these sagas end, of course. In August, the outgoing Microsoft CEO promised to step down within a yearone "lost" decade after Jobs uttered those words. And the late Apple CEO stepped down from his post after his health took a turn for the worse in 2011, the very same year that his company's most popular product—the iPhone—peaked, in one sense of the word, enjoying 24 percent market share, per Gartner figures from the time.

A year later, the iPhone's market share dropped to 21 percent. Two years later, 14 percent. By then, even the people in the MacRumors forums were arguing whether the device had grown stale.

Nine days from today, Apple will reportedly refresh its iPad lineup. Both the full-size version and the mini model are said to receive a nip and tuck, from their dimensions (thinner, lighter) to their components (faster processors, sharper cameras). Both models will arrive with iOS 7, the reimagined operating system that helped Apple sell a record number of iPhones last month and shake off the "stale" charge.

When it was introduced in 2010, the iPad was widely considered the successor to the laptop and, with not nearly as much exaggeration as you would expect from such a statement, the future of computing. Though Apple has sold millions of them, that vision hasn't quite come true. The modern tablet may be the future of cash registers and clipboards, but it has not wholly displaced the laptop.

One thing is certain, however: peak iPad is already behind us. Though Gartner in 2011 had forecast Apple to enjoy tablet market domination through 2014, more recent estimates by IDC have the iPad succumbing to Android before this year's end, even as overall shipments escalate.

Few can accuse Apple of maximizing profits in the tablet segment, not with the introduction of the iPad mini, which chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer acknowledged had the thinnest margin of any current Apple product. But you've got to wonder if the next iPad generation is better suited to delaying the inevitable—the steady decline of the company's massive market share in the segment—or expanding its reach in price-sensitive markets that aren't so Apple-crazy.

Will the next generation iPad be, in Jobs' own words, "mediocre"? Not if Apple can help it. As John Gruber put so eloquently last week: "This has nothing to do with focusing on raw market share, and everything to do with keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality. If Apple maintains a lead over its rivals in those regards, the Mac suggests that Apple can occupy a dominant, stable, long-term position as the profit leader in the mobile market as well — a market that is already bigger than the PC market ever was, and unlike the PC market, is still growing."

In other words, there's no need for a besieged Apple to protect its shrinking tablet turf on October 22. It just needs to find more land to conquer.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech, written by one of our lead editors in Asia, Australia, Europe or the United States. We publish this editorial each Sunday at 6 p.m. ET in the U.S., which is 11 p.m. Sunday in London, 6 a.m. Monday in Singapore and 9 a.m. Monday in Sydney.

Previous editions of ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPad, Tablets

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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113 comments
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  • Apple is no longer the leader in design and quality

    The ipad mini, now Apple's flagship tablet, was of inferior quality when it was introduced and was already outclassed a number of android tablets that were on the market at it's introduction. It has fallen even farther behind with the introduction of this year's android products.
    SunFire23
    • Re: Apple is no longer the leader in design and quality....

      Apple products exude quality from the iMac to the iPhone they are built to last not to mention the superb OS X and iOS systems that compliment them.

      Android is indeed a good alternative but the build quality of what it is running on is often questionable.
      5735guy
      • http://bit (dot) ly/17CPlOn

        sorry, but according to the facts iOS products are just cr*ps, just see the facts how Apple IS inferior:

        http://bit (dot) ly/17CPlOn

        Apple is just a marketing selling cr*ps and people don't mind....no wonder they don't mind PRIMS (52 % in the USA)
        anywherehome
        • anywherehome

          Time to get your head out of the toilet and time to put in good URL links that work.
          TimeForAChangeToBetter
        • Apple Crap

          Well anywherehome,
          My family owns 2 macbooks, 2 macbook pros, 2 mac airs, 3 iPads 1 ipad mini, 3 mac minis, 1 apple TV. All of it is such "crap" that none of them have ever needed any technical service.
          Also each one has been passed down the food chain in the house as we get new updated computers for me and my wife. I know the facts may not matter to you, but someone else looking to buy a quality product may appreciate the info.
          bluesteelco@...
          • nice family :)

            Family of brainwashed, nice :)
            You even don't mind:

            "Apple played 'central role' in ebook price-fixing conspiracy"
            "Apple censoring iCloud emails and attachments!"
            "Apple iOS Apps Leak More Personal Info Than Android".
            "iPhones most vulnerable among smartphones"
            “40% of iOS popular apps invade your privacy without any permission"
            anywherehome
          • Nonsense

            First, it wasn't price-fixing. No reasonable, informed person could look at the previous sales model, and the model Apple adopted, and claim such. No wonder you do.
            Second, Bull. It is NOT censoring iCloud e-mail messages, it is an overactive spam filtering mechanism. So, if you send an e-mail message with the phrase "barely legal teen" in the text, from your iCloud account, it might get blocked, as Apple attempts, with a little more vigor than is necessary, to block spam being sent from its servers. HOWEVER (and it is a BIG however) if you send the same message from a third party provider TO your Apple-provided e-mail account, it gets through just fine. So again, Apple is NOT censoring your e-mail.
            Third, your statement is not only dubious on its face, especially with its lack of ANY metric, but it ignores the fact that Google, as the biggest advertiser and data accumulator on the planet, essentially is "leaking your personal info" to itself.
            Fourth, bull. The vast majority of ACTUAL IRL exploits are on Android. This is not a debatable point. It is an empirically confirmable statement.
            Lastly, compared to what?
            .DeusExMachina.
          • I call B.S. on your third point.

            And I have a couple of links to serve as citations to prove my point: First, Google's Privacy Policy: https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/

            And second, https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/update/ (these are to take effect next month).
            Richard Estes
          • so?

            what is the problem?
            1) just your friend will see you in ads
            2) you can disable that

            just FUD from you?
            yes, the Microsoft+NSA game = spreading lies FUD, nothing more
            anywherehome
          • you just lie

            1) "it wasn't price-fixing." so tell the judge who found them guilty :-D
            2) ok, so its censoring (or a very childish spam filter by Apple, no wonder), thank you
            3) no, just facts: "iPhone is most vulnerable, least secure smartphone in the market, security firm finds"

            Youre not able to hack Android, its impossible and malware is just a user approved app ;)
            anywherehome
          • Nothing you wrote shows I lied.

            1) I would be glad to tell the judge.
            2) No, it is not censoring, and repeating it does not make it so.
            3) facts? Bull. First, that is not what the "security firm said. Second, the idea that one can't hack Android is almost as idiotic as the statement that it is "impossible", seeing how much malware ALREADY exists in Play.
            .DeusExMachina.
          • Bluesteel your soooo right

            I was a windows gear head for the longest time. Only because the co I worked for had corp license so I could put the same windows version on everything. But then it got slowwww. Took too much time keeping everything running well. My son showed me ipad. I tried it. Love it. Changed jobs so went to Mac so once again it all runs the same on each box. Side note. Notice ALL the big boys (MS Google) are getting into the hardware realm? Why? People just want stuff that works. I had a client with over 3000 hand held devices of every type. All the windows and android worked differently depending on the hardware. Not reliable. We released app on iPhone. Wasn't as robust to start, but it worked. The same way everywhere. IT loved it. Enough that they budgeted to replace 2678 other devices to itouch or iPhones. Btw. I handed down my first iPad to my dad. He's 82. He loves it. It is simple and just works. That is why they are all getting into hardware business. Just like apple.....
            technohoss
          • Apple

            Never fails to amaze me that there is always someone that just has to complain about everything. It took me years to finally start using Apple products and I couldn't be happier. They have at every turn proven themselves!!
            alanl56
          • Wow

            You have more money than brains!
            slickjim
          • And you don't have either

            .DeusExMachina.
        • A tablet is more than its OS

          not that I am conceding the argument on iOS7 (which is fine as an OS), but generally iPads tend to be made out of the same brushed aluminum they always have been, and tend to be rather well built, with a well designed ARM microprocessor that easily competes with anything Qualcomm makes.

          I don't know why people bother trying to claim they aren't well made - everyone, including detractors, knows very well that they are.
          Mac_PC_FenceSitter
        • nice try

          but the only cr**ps here is your typing.
          ScanBack
        • Removable batteries

          What's the best Android tablet on the market today with a removable battery? I'm looking to replace my Kindle Fire HD 8.9 next year and that is my biggest complaint with it. It supposedly has a ten hour battery life, but I get far less than half that when watching videos.
          Bill Cousert
        • When Wal-Mart supposedly crushed the competition (the little guy)

          everybody got all upset. But when apple does it, well, it's ok . . . . .

          http://www.zdnet.com/the-demise-of-the-independent-apple-reseller-7000021886/?s_cid=e539&ttag=e539
          tboneJoey
      • Re: Build quality

        Who cares about build quality when you can replace a commodity tablet for around $100 or less. I see plenty of iPhones in people's hands that have cracked screens and those users try to carry using them because it is too expensive to replace. No so the case with commodity, disposable Android devices.
        winGeek