The new iPad Mini was launched last night – a device which, according to Apple's senior vice president of industrial design, Jonathan Ives, is a ‘concentrated version’ of the iPad.
Since doing such a sterling job at the launch of the original iPad, Ives seems to be the post-Jobs era stand-in for the great man. Apple calls upon Ives to wax lyrical about magic while CEO Tim Cook talks about how quickly their undersupplied retail partners sell out of stock. And then they wheel out the new product.
It’s a shame, then, that Apple has not been able to apply the magic of its launch events to the design process. With the iPad Mini, Apple is following the pack in every way.
There are already other players in the small screen tablet market and they’re all offering a far more compelling price point than Apple. This launch looks like Apple’s management had a meeting where they saw these form factors doing well and said “we need to get the top-end of this market”. That’s fine, but is it innovative? No.
The hardware is pretty much what was found in the iPad 2, only this time it’s in a much smaller packaging. Diminutive dimensions seemed to be the focus of this launch, and not just for the iPad. The new iMac and the new MacBook are super thin too. Shame Intel got there first.
Even the much vaunted ‘sharper’ screen is more of a workaround than an innovation. The display resolution is the same but the panel is smaller. That’s not a credit to Apple, it’s a credit to the manufacturers of Apple’s screens – Samsung.
Of course you can give them some credit for managing to get it out there ahead of the launch of Microsoft’s touch-specific operating system, Windows 8, and its flagship product, the Surface. But this perhaps indicates a new kind of cynicism within Apple. This coupled with the litigious activity lately, makes it look like a company that’s out of ideas.
I have no doubt that there are those who will disagree with me. But I don’t think anyone can really call this the kind of innovation that we’ve come to expect from a company like Apple.
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