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Apple Does It Again – So What?

Oct 27, 13 Apple Does It Again – So What?

This past week, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the stage in San Francisco to unveil the Apple iPad Air. Yawn.

Sorry, if I’m being blunt, but this is just the latest attempt to try to build excitement over a whole lot of nothing, or at least very little nothing.

To start, let’s recap what Apple announced. The iPad Air will have the same 9.7-inch screen as previous iPads and will feature the same A7 processor as the iPhone 5S. OK, so that processor will make it 72 times faster than the original iPad, but for those who want to watch pan-and-scanned movies or play Temple Run and Angry Birds, will it really offer that much more?

The iPad Air will go on sale on November 1 and prices will start at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only model, and will be $629 for a 16GB version with 4G LTE connectivity.

Sure the device is slimmed down, but is anyone really going to notice that it is down from 1.4 pounds to just a pound (so basically 28 percent light) or 20 percent thinner than the previous model? Is that really enough to make this worth an upgrade?

In the old days, and by that I mean two or three years ago, yeah that might have been enough. The problem is that Apple has a lot more competition in the tablet space. Not only is there competition, but there are cheaper offerings. $499 for a thinner tablet is a lot of money, but then again the iPad 2, which was launched in 2011, is still around for $399.

Apple has always been expensive, and part of that price was akin to joining an exclusive club of non-conformists who wanted to believe they really did “think different.” Nowadays it is lot harder to buy into that hype.

Moreover, it is also increasingly difficult to believe it when grandmothers are using their iPad Mini to play games on planes and to Facetime with grand kids. The cool factor is sort of lost, and the competition knows it. Samsung and Microsoft have fought back with ads just as clever as Apple’s and, moreover, new products are taking on Apple.

It is hard to know if Steve Jobs would approve, in part because the iPad Air does look at bit like a large iPad Mini, with a narrower bezel and chamfered edges. It will reportedly be available in the new Apple colors that it introduced with the iPhone 5S. Jobs once said that they didn’t believe in smaller sized tablets, and after his death the company did roll out the iPad Mini in response to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab line.

Now the Mini is getting a mini-makeover, as well.

It will get the Retina Display, and a boost with the A7 processor, as well as extended battery life, expanded LTE coverage and new MIMO Wi-Fi technology. All good stuff, which has me asking, why wasn’t it there before?

Of course, that’s like asking, “Is this the last iPad?” Of course not, because Apple’s business model revolves around getting people not to think different but about thinking again about upgrading. Consider that when companies introduce new products, the price for last year’s item goes down. Instead, Apple just raises the bar and the price.

The old non-Retina iPad Mini is sticking around for $299, while the new version will cost $329. Of course, if you are among the Apple faithful you can also opt for the 128 GB version of the iPad Air for $799. At what point do even the faithful stop buying the product they already own?

Image Credit: Ivelin Radkov / Shutterstock

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