Tablet kings Apple remain well and truly on the throne, especially in light of recent product launches: the iPad Mini was a measured attempt to address the growing appetite for mid-sized tablets. Then there’s the Fourth Generation iPad, a device that cements the brand’s position ahead of competitors by including a new system on a chip – the Apple A6X – to power things behind the already impressive ‘Retina’ resolution screen.
In fact, the only negative talk surrounding the “iPad 4” is that it isn’t the “iPad 3”. Though the iPad 2 remains available as a budget option, the third generation model has taken a bow after just 221 days on the market. So what went wrong for the iPad 3?
Was anything actually wrong with iPad 3?
Perhaps the biggest source of the surprise over this is the sense that there wasn’t anything especially wrong with the “iPad 3”. There were issues with 4G compatibility outside of the US and some overheating within 3D applications, but the powerful A5X processor, 5 megapixel camera, 1080p video recording, Siri functionality and retina display (at an impressive beyond HD 2048×1536 pixels) ensured that the model was a hit both critically and commercially.
All of this is poor consolation for anyone who purchased one and quickly found themselves with ‘last year’s model’. Upcoming Apple product releases are often contradictory in that the company itself has said absolutely nothing, but the whole internet (and anyone making a purchase) knows they’re coming either through factory leaks or good old-fashioned rumours. Perhaps it was more surprising that we hadn’t heard the fourth generation iPad was coming than it was surprising for it to turn up four months early.
Apple’s reaction to this helped, in the US at least: upon the announcement, iPad 3 purchasers had their returns policy extended to 30 days (from 14) allowing them to trade back for the new model. But any frustration among iPad 3 owners was surely understandable.
iPad 4 makes sense
Apple’s success in the tablet market isn’t just about having a competitive device that consumers want to own, and I think the marketing department and the assembly line are huge a part of why we’re seeing the fourth generation roll round so soon.
First, let’s look at the marketing reasons for this new iPad. A simple logistical reason for announcing new iPads in October may be that Apple simply doesn’t think that announcing iPads in March is a good idea. It’s easy to see why they might think this, too: tablets may be a new means to enjoy home computing, but they also compete with e-book readers, handheld games consoles and other giftable tech in the run up to Christmas. The novelty of the iPad line has worn off: there’s no point in being a ‘must have’ item at a time when nobody is buying new tech.
It’s also significant that Apple have accompanied their entry into the mid-sized tablet market with a new model. The iPad Mini is a capable little machine, and if the power difference between it and the full-sized iPad isn’t significant, there’s going to be a lot of people who aren’t going to spend the extra money that they previously would have been comfortable handing over for an iPad product.
iPad 3: a victim of timing, still a great tablet
Cost is an issue for Apple when buying parts too – making your chips and components more powerful doesn’t necessarily make them more expensive to produce. The LED backlight in the iPad 3 allegedly costs a lot more and eats into battery life. The same could well be true of the A5X processor too. Apple save money, you get a little more power.
What does all of this mean for existing iPad owners? It sucks to be stuck with an old model, but the third gen iPad isn’t really an inferior model. Besides, finding out that your new gadget is suddenly out of date is just part of the tech roulette. If you let it worry you too much, you’ll never actually own a tablet – and you’re missing out if you don’t have one.