There was a time, not long ago, when just about every consumer thought that Apple could do no wrong. After all, under Steve Jobs, Apple was delivering truly innovative products, and from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, its devices were groundbreaking, if nothing else.
Nowadays, though, not everyone is so quick to drink the Apple Kool-Aid. Sure, Apple’s products continue to sell well, but there seems to be a growing contingent that’s willing to acknowledge that there are other companies in the mobile market, like Samsung and Amazon, that can deliver high-quality products. What’s more, the ever-increasing Android love has prompted some to question why Apple isn’t doing all that it can to appeal to customers.
For those who have followed Apple over the years, the idea that Apple would not include all of the features consumers desire or fail to respond to demand for certain products isn’t anything new. Apple has, for the most part, stubbornly stuck to its guns. And as Apple’s legion of loyal fans would say, the company’s profits seem to indicate that has been a good move.
But on Oct. 22, Apple is going to launch a new, fifth-generation iPad. And although Apple’s fans will love every last inch of the device, I can say now, sight unseen, that the tablet will fall short for me.
Like so many others that have invested so heavily in Apple products over the years, I’m becoming disenfranchised by the company’s seeming lack of understanding. And I’m starting to wonder if Steve Jobs – and not Apple’s products -- really was the secret ingredient that created so much excitement in Cupertino and beyond.
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So, here’s why I think I’ll be disappointed by the iPad 5. But first, allow me to say that if I’m wrong and Apple’s iPad 5 is truly special, I’ll be the first to come back here and admit I was wrong. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m gong to be wrong.
1. Apple’s lockdown love
Apple’s desire to keep its products locked down from DIYers has been a hallmark of all of the company’s products. Apple reasons that allowing users to tinker with devices or to include too many components can hurt security and harm the overall experience of using those products.
While Apple’s logic might appeal to novice users, I’m a power user that has the wherewithal to take devices apart, install new components, and put it back together again. I also like the idea of knowing that the product I’m using is open enough that I can use other software platforms, invest in accessories that I know will work with the device, and provide the kind of flexibility users find in Android and Windows.
Unfortunately, there’s no reason to believe Apple will change its stance on that. And I, like so many other power users, will be left to play by Apple’s rules.
2. Iterative updates with so-so components
Looking at Apple’s recent product launches, I can’t help but feel somewhat concerned that the company will offer yet another iterative update in the iPad 5.
Yes, the reports suggest that the iPad 5 will come with a slimmer design that mimics that of the iPad mini, and I’m sure it will be powered by Apple's 64-bit A7 or A7X processor meaning apps should respond more favorably. But I still don't think the company has done enough to make the new iPad, to quote an old Steve Jobs saying, insanely great.
Apple has the cash and the expertise, with help from its purchase of chip-designer Anobit, to deliver something truly groundbreaking that puts all other devices to shame.
Instead, Apple has felt fine with staying just slightly ahead or on-par with competing chips.
Apple is the tablet king among hardware-makers. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the company would want to go well beyond what its competitors could offer in a tablet, rather than offer an iterative update that only aims at bolstering the bottom line?
Apple is a public company with a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders, but the its success was born out of its ability to deliver truly groundbreaking products that inevitably led to massive profit gains.
The iPad 5, at least from my vantage point, looks to be a product Apple will update to a degree and expect us all to buy. There's no question millions of us will dutifully do just that, but don't be surprised if you find yourself wondering what the big deal is.
(Worth reading: What we know about the iPad 5)
3. Apple’s seeming unwillingness to listen to the market
It’s easier to predict what the iPad 5 won’t come with than to determine what it will. Competitors are including near-field communication (NFC) chips to advance ecommerce , but it's nowhere to be found on the iPhone and iPad.
Bigger iPad displays are rumored to be in the works, but Apple seems content to stick with the iPad and iPad mini screen sizes.
Yes, I know what Apple fans have said over the years – that Steve Jobs and chief design honcho Jonathan Ive really know what we want, we just don’t know it.
But I would assert that not giving us what we’ve wanted was simply a strategic business move aimed to improve Apple’s cash coffers and make us want to buy new products every year.
I’m not asking Apple to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the iPad 5, but a bigger screen and a little more pushing of the envelope like the inclusion of NFC doesn't seem a lot to ask.
Say what you will about Android-based devices, but at least they deliver features we want and allow us to decide how much (or how little) we want to use them.
Believe it or not, we can be right from time to time.
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