Earlier today, actually not too long ago as I write this, Apple took the stage and talked about old and new. They outlined how many devices they've sold, and refreshed our memory on new software they first showed us earlier this year. By all accounts, today's event was supposed to be "an iPad event," but Apple’s tablets didn't make an appearance until the very end. Which shouldn't be too surprising. Apple wants to make sure the iPad family is the last thing on stage, and for good reason: a yearly refresh needs all the attention it can get.
But let's face it: Apple doesn't need help getting attention. Indeed, even before Apple's rent started today someone was telling me how much of a mistake Nokia had made in its own announcement of new products earlier the same day. "It’s all about Apple today.” And we will be seeing more Apple coverage over today’s announcement well into the rest of the week for sure.
So, how did Apple do?
If you are an Apple fan, then you probably knew what to expect and you walked away from today’s event not too surprised. At least, not in the general theme and devices. If you aren't an Apple fan, the same could probably be said for you, too. Moderate upgrades from the year prior. However, that isn't the real question. No, the real question today is whether or not anything Apple did will either draw in new (or returning) customers, or will it drive away potential buyers instead?
When it comes to the iPad, Apple made some changes that I could honestly see bringing in some new folks, but at the same time driving some away, and due totally to the biggest changes made to both the regular sized iPad, any the iPad mini.
First, the bigger of the two. It is no longer known as the iPad, or New iPad, or even the 5th-gen iPad. Now it’s the iPad Air. I'll let you sink your eyes on that a moment. The iPad Air is lighter and thinner than its predecessor, so Apple felt it made sense for the brand name change. Some folks love it, and some people hate it. (What else is new?) it is that weight change that I think could bring in some new customers, though.
The original size iPad was a good size, but it has always been heavy. Even the fourth-gen tablet was pretty heavy, although it did slim down a bit. This time around, Apple has really thinned it out, and now made their full-size tablet weigh only a pound. That's right, just 1 pound. Pretty impressive by itself, and for those who we're staying away from the iPad because it was too heavy, well, that argument has gone out the window.
And then there is the iPad mini successor. It isn't the iPad mini 2, though. Instead, Apple decided to call it the iPad mini with Retina display. So, as you can guess, the iPad mini now comes equipped with Apple's “magical” display. (It has the same amount of pixels as the iPad Air, so that is worthwhile.) That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is tied to the good.
With the upgrade to Retina, the iPad mini with Retina display also got a bigger price tag. Last year's model started at $329 for the 16GB version with Wi-Fi-only. This year? $399. It isn't a big increase in price, no, but the iPad mini was praised for its "low" tag when it launched last year. That won't be the case this time around, especially with the major competition priced way, way lower.
Especially for the Cellular-connected options.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the iPad mini with Retina display is still going to sell like hotcakes, but I'm a little disappointed it saw a price hike of any kind. That 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model is . . . I'm just not sure if I'm going to pull the trigger on that. Not even if I trade in the current tablet. But, who knows.
Where do you stand on Apple's new tablets? Are you going with the iPad Air or the iPad mini with Retina display? Or are you going a different route altogether? Let me know.