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Friday, 17 October 2014

Is our love affair with the iPad coming to an end?

"Apple announces two many iPads", reads the headline from TechCrunch.  "Apple's iPad Mini is a huge let down", reads yet another update from MobileBurn. The lack of enthusiasm for the launch of the updated iPad range is in stark contrast to the media frenzy that was whipped up a few weeks ago during the launch of the iPhone 6, and is an even bigger contrast to the showmanship that Apple has displayed during past launches of its tablet range. It is significant that this time's launch was quietly done in an auditorium tucked away on Apple's Cupertino campus and without any of the fanfare that one normally sees around their announcements.

Or put it another way. Are you at all tempted to upgrade your iPad? Or does the newest iPhone/ Android phone/ laptop seem a better outlay for your money? Do you already own a phablet like the Galaxy Note, and does a tablet seem redundant to you? In case you answer yes to any of these questions, then you are touching the heart of the problem that is plaguing Apple. 

Tablets, once touted as the replacement for laptops, are getting squeezed between phablets and large-screen smartphones, and the new and improved budget laptops including Ultrabooks, Macbook Air, Chromebooks etc. I increasingly find that I reach for my iPad less and less when I have a powerful smartphone like the HTC One with me. It's become more of a couch surfing and gaming device and as such, it does not justify an upgrade till it dies on me. And even then, I might not shell out the huge premium demanded by an iPad as the Android offerings from Samsung, HTC and Google look increasingly attractive and reasonable in comparison.

Apple is not really helping the issue by displaying a (rare) lack of innovation in their re-design of the iPad range. Thinner, lighter, smaller, more powerful - it's all cool but it reflects a cosmetic approach to upgrading, rather than the company's revolutionary habit of completely changing the paradigm. It reduces us to comparing specs rather than looking at the more exciting aspect of enhanced user experience. And this is a let down. 

Currently, the iPhone 6 is undoubtedly the most aspirational phone on the market. One cannot say the same of the new iPad range. It would be a pity if our love affair with the iPad is coming to an end. I would love to see a re-imagined tablet experience. Microsoft made a fair effort in this direction when they announced the Surface 3 Pro. I would love to see the same from Apple.