The first noticeable aspect of the release of Apple’s new iPad, announced yesterday at a launch event in San Francisco, is the fact that it’s called just that: “the new iPad,” rather than the iPad 3 or iPad HD. Why this is, is unclear – is it not sufficiently different to be an iPad3? Or has a decision on a name just not been taken?
The new device, to go on sale on March 16, has:
- a ‘retina display’ of the type seen on the iPhone 4. For the iPad this means 3.1m pixels, 2048 x 1536 – double the resolution of previous versions.
- a dual-core ‘A5X’ chip with quad-core graphics
- 4G/LTE wireless, which is much faster than 3G but currently only available in the US
- an upgraded iSight camera which has a 5 megapixel sensor and HD video recording capability.
- voice dictation (in English, French, German and Japanese)
- updated iWork applications, and iPhoto with more advanced editing options
It does not have haptic feedback, as commentators had predicted, notes the Guardian, or anything in particular that seems to justify the emphasis put on ‘touch’ in the invitation to the event.
The new higher resolution display is “perfect for reading and for news apps” said Poynter’s Patrick Thornton, as it allows for clearer text that is closer to printed text in a glossy news magazine, for example. However, apps and websites won’t automatically look better on the new iPad, he points out: they will need higher resolution photos and videos, for a start. Text may or may not have to be changed, depending on how it is placed on the app.
Apps will therefore have to be bigger than current apps, taking up more space on each device, with increased download times, Thornton stresses. Websites will also need to be redesigned to look good on the new device.
Another interesting announcement was that the iPad2 is still available, at a reduced price of $399. This is cheaper than most other tablets, although a notable exception is Amazon’s Kindle Fire at $199. Will this help sustain Apple’s dominance in the tablet sector?
Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the launch that 15m iPads have been sold in the last quarter, out of a total of 62m iOS devices. There are 600,000 apps in the App Store, and the 25 billionth app was downloaded earlier this week in China.
Forrester revised its US consumer tablet upward on Wednesday, predicting that one third of US adults – 34.3% - will own a tablet by 2016. In the EU-7, they expect 30.4% of consumers above the age of 16 to be using a tablet by 2015. Google is “stealthily” gaining tablet platform share, as both Amazon and Barnes & Noble use versions of Android branded as their own.
Price is an important factor in tablet choice, notes Forrester’s Sarah Rotman Epps, and Apple’s choice to maintain the iPad2 reflects that. However, she adds, it is not the primary reason why people don’t buy a tablet – it’s because they think they don’t need one. Therefore stressing “what you can do with the device” is more important and this is, she believes, “why Apple, Amazon, and B&N have succeeded in the US where pure hardware plays have failed.”
Is there room for a news-focused tablet?