As revelers from across the nation prepared for a raucous St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Apple decided to make itself the official host of the pre-game party by releasing the iPad 3 the day before everyone’s favorite Celtic fesitvus. Lines at Apple Stores stretched across the nation, heralding the arrival of Apple’s flagship device. For all the pomp and bombast that comes with Apple product releases, one can understand why people are excited. The new iPad really does make its predecessors look like the ancient slabs monks cobbled together to make the first books.
Apple released this long-awaited product to its eager consumers at 8 a.m. on Friday morning. Many Apple fans camped out overnight, while the other early adopters simply waited in line for 15 hours. The lines were shorter than those of previous iPad releases, but the amount of pre-orders Apple had already received for the tablet more than compensated. In fact, many customers who preordered their iPads had to wait until Monday to receive their purchases. Though Apple is happily sweeping up the records shattered by their pre-order sales numbers, this launch was different from those of the previous two iPads.
Protesting for China
For the first time, there were protests at the launch and not just by Samsung Galaxy fans. The public scandal of Apple’s manufacturing facilities in China, the working conditions and increased suicides brought a substantial counter narrative to the iPad launch. Some people stood outside the stores holding signs and shouting about unfair labor practices and accusing Apple of exposing its Chinese workers to harsh chemicals and forcing them to work long hours for unfair pay. Nonetheless, it does not appear that the company’s sales will suffer as a result of the protests and bad publicity. An unfortunate irony, but not the only problem with the iPad 3.
Let’s start with the name. iPad was provocative. Controversial. It got the people going. The iPad 2 was lazy, but the device had not changed considerably, so many gave it a pass. iPad 3 fits in that its lack of creativity parallels how little the device has changed. The whole thing has Wired asking the more pointed question: is this the last iPad the really matters?
The spectacle of Retina Display on a screen larger than that of an iPhone has sent many reviewers into riotous frenzy and while I don’t doubt the amazing wonder of seeing heretofore unparalleled crispness on a screen, is that all there is? No of course, it’s fast also. So then, what are we left with?
Other upgrades include a processor that has only been upgraded enough to handle the heavy lifting of the retina display and 4G LTE and an improved camera for users to never use. After that, it’s just an iPad – a thrilling communications devices that has changed the landscape of mobile computing, probably forever – but still, where does Apple go from here?
After revolutionizing electronics lifestyle with the iPad, it’s looking like that device is starting to get low on creative fluid. The speed and high-res display will likely drive a bit of mobile app development, enough to harness these two attributes in innovative ways, and that will mean good things for mobile apps across the board. Apple iterates its devices. Many of us learned from a hard decade with the iPod that as soon as you got the newest one, it became functionally obsolete in comparison to the newest version. It doesn’t seem like the iPad has that type of lifespan though. While the iPod added a stable of functionality over the course of its life, the iPod Touch can do most all the things an iPad can do now. So what will the iPad 4 offer up to entice consumers in an increasingly populated tablet market? They are running out of things to add.
Lucky for Apple, that doesn’t seem to matter yet with consumers.
Apple Remains On Top
Loyalty is the religion of Apple fans. According to a survey, approximately 50 percent of the people in line to receive the newest iPad were purchasing a newer model to replace their old tablet. Apple’s customer retention rates are much higher than those of other tablet manufacturers and they are still the big dog in the tablet park by far. In fact, some retailers wish a manufacturer would makes something to compete with the iPad.
Is Apple Untouchable?
If its labor practices remain under scrutiny, it is unclear whether Apple will be able to maintain its superiority in the tablet market. Some Apple fans refuse to acknowledge the protests, while other consumers are completely oblivious to the entire issue. Looking forward, the future of the iPad as a “revolutionary” device is foggy and its days as a full-featured, top-of-the-line device are numbered. But by the time that number hits triple-digits, Apple will have changed the world again.