It’s sort of funny that the only major thing those in the rumor business got wrong was the name of the new iPad. It’s not the previously presumed “iPad 3”, nor is it the “iPad HD”. It’s just the iPad. And that’s what it will be from now on.
This was surprising because our expectations were set for a new name. But it really shouldn’t be all that surprising. My iMac is not the “iMac 11”. My MacBook Air is not the “MacBook Air 4”. The iPod line changes, but the name remains the same. This will undoubtedly happen to the iPhone line as well. Just as the spec is dying (more than partially ushered to the grave by Apple), the ascending number naming race is dying too. It’s about simplicity.
Apple can pull this off because they have so few products and they’re in complete control of all of them. Their software isn’t licensed to other OEMs. The iPad doesn’t have to be called the “iPad 3X HD S” just to beat the “iPad 3X Turbo” made by a competitor. There are no real competitors. Not yet, anyway. The naked “iPad” name alone is enough to win.
Enough about the name. The real key to today’s event was a theme Apple is going to hit on again and again for the foreseeable future: the “Post-PC Revolution”. These were some of the first words out of Tim Cook’s mouth when he took the stage today. Yes, it’s a theme that began with Steve Jobs, but after Apple’s insane last quarter (the first under Cook as permanent CEO), it has never been more clear that Apple has evolved far beyond a mere PC company. They still make them. But they’re a sliver of the business.
Apple has sold 315 million “Post-PC” devices (read: iOS devices) in total. In just the past year, Apple sold 172 million of them. And last quarter alone, they sold 62 million, as they made up 76 percent of Apple’s revenues. This Post-PC segment is now the heart of the company. And the movement is accelerating. “Apple has its feet firmly planted in the Post-PC future,” Cook said.
Right now, the iPhone is king of the Post-PC world. But Cook and others at Apple have had no reluctance in predicting that the iPad business could be even larger one day. Something Cook said on stage today reiterates that stance. “We think the iPad is the poster child of the Post-PC world.” The iPad. Not the iPhone.
Cook then put up his stunning graph. The iPad sold 15.4 million units last quarter. That was more than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC line worldwide. HP sold 15.1 million PCs. Lenovo sold 13 million PCs. Dell sold 11.9 million PCs. Acer sold 9.8 million PCs. A year from now, don’t be surprised if this gap is significantly wider.
“Apples to oranges! Apples to oranges!” I hear you. But you’re wrong. Apples to Apple. Stats like this do matter because they show where we’re headed. It’s not necessarily that the iPad is beating the PC, it’s that iPad beat the PC in under two years of existence. This drives PC people batty, but the numbers don’t lie. PC sales have peaked. In many cases, they’re going the wrong way. The iPad is just getting started.
What’s more likely — 5 years from now, your primary home computing device is a PC? Or 5 years from now, your primary home computing device is a tablet? Just two years ago, this question would have been an absolute joke. Now it’s a joke to think it will take a full five years.
There’s strong push-back to this idea because people generally don’t like change. It’s hard to understand. We take comfort in the familiar. It’s hard to think about and write about the future because it’s always unknown. The risk of being wrong is great. But here the writing is very clearly on the wall.
“We set out not just to create a new product, but a new category,” Cook said of the iPad. And they did. But a few years from now, it could very well be the case that the PC gets lumped into this very category as a small portion of the market.
Apple doesn’t want the iPad to be put into the PC category because it’s limited and decaying. The PC people don’t want the iPad to be put into their category because it makes them look even worse. But again, 5 years from now, which will be your main personal computing device? That’s all that matters.
As for the new iPad itself, it looks amazing. I got to play with one for about 20 minutes in the hands-on area after today’s event. Devin did as well and wrote up his initial thoughts already (be sure to check out his text comparison picture).
Yes, it largely looks the same as the iPad 2. Yes, it’s ever-so-slightly, but noticeably (to those who use their iPad a lot, like me) thicker. I couldn’t tell a difference in weight (though it does weigh slightly more). What really matters, of course, is the screen. It’s glorious.
It’s one of those things where it may be a little hard to tell at first because the images on the screen are the same. But when you look closer, you get it. And you’ll never be able to use a non-Retina iPad again. The new iPad display makes everything look like a printed photograph. By comparison, the old iPad display makes everything look as if I’ve taken my glasses off. Blurry.
The new iPad seems fast, but the iPad 2 seemed fast. I imagine it will be hard to tell the speed difference between the two until apps that really test the RAM and graphics chip appear. The new Infinity Blade game that was demoed during the keynote is probably one of those apps, unfortunately, it wasn’t available on the demo units.
The new camera is much, much, much, much, much better. Funny how that works when you go from 0.7 megapixels to 5 megapixels.
The highlight for me personally was iPhoto on the new iPad. I never use iPhoto on my Mac to edit photos, I simply use it to organize them. I will absolutely use iPhoto for the iPad to edit photos. It makes it fun. It’s the way non-professional photo editing should absolutely be done. It’s all touch and slide-based. For someone like me who has gotten more into photography because of brilliant iOS apps like Instagram and Camera+, this is the next step.
The other aspect of the new iPad that I’m really looking forward to is the 4G LTE capabilities. Unfortunately, the iPads in the demo area were on WiFi, so I didn’t get a chance to test it out. But I feel like this functionality isn’t getting its full due. These new iPads will be able to go anywhere in the U.S. (and Canada) and connect to the web at speeds faster than many broadband connections. This is a part of the “Post-PC Revolution” as well. Not only are you not tethered to a desk anymore, you’re not tethered to anything. You don’t need to be near a WiFi hotspot. The new iPad is a WiFi hotspot (I hope the carriers don’t screw us over there, we’ll see — I’m a little concerned that Apple isn’t saying anything about this right now).
As predicted, some folks were disappointed by the iPad announcement today. They’ll undoubtedly remain disappointed as they wait in line to buy the new iPad next week.
For whatever reason, we’re wired to only think something is truly new if it looks completely different. But that line of thinking is foolish. Apple didn’t change the form factor of the device because it works. They have the sales figures to prove it. You don’t call back your homerun and say you wanted a double instead.
No other tablet is close to the iPad right now. That was true yesterday, it’s even more true today. If and when that changes, that’s when Apple will undoubtedly switch things up from a design perspective. There’s no use in competing against yourself. Lure the competition to come to you as you’re about to sprint the other way. Next year.
As for the rest of this year, “you’re going to see a lot more of this type of innovation,” Cook said. “We’re just getting started.” Which sounds like a great promise to the customers and a giant threat to the competition.