With the iPad Mini meeting all the lowered expectations for Apple’s hurried foray into the 7-inch tablet space, about the only surprise from Wednesday’s release event was the announcement of the iPad 4, a shocker for those who have studied Apple’s metronome like release schedule originally instituted by Steve Jobs.
In fact, over the past two release schedules for the iPhone and iPad respectively, the Apple team has done away with any sort of set annual release date, choosing instead to flood the market with its products at seemingly random intervals. Now within five weeks Apple has released the latest iPhone, the latest iPad, and the company’s newest 7-inch tablet form factor; a schedule so ill-timed that Apple is quickly turning into the technology market’s version of the Costa Concordia disaster, with CEO Tim Cook playing the role of frenetic and inept cruise ship captain Francesco Schettino.
The danger, Cook will soon find, is in over-saturating the market with products that sell on hype alone, as human beings simply aren’t capable of being as excited about mediocre products–or as willing to shell out the money– as Apple needs them to be in such a condensed time frame, meaning that on this course, Cook may soon run Apple’s ship aground.
While many are left scratching their heads about the sudden release of the iPad 4, less than a calendar year after its predecessor, there are a select number of market analysts that see at least some method to Apple’s madness. First, the iPad 3 was a relatively “stale product,” meaning that while sales were strong, it simply wasn’t strong enough to be able to compete with its younger brother, the iPad Mini. By releasing the iPad 4 along with the Mini, Apple secures a distinct market for both.
Further, by releasing all the companies’ compatible next generation products at once, customers will also be more willing to cough up the money for accessories as well, seeing it as an opportunity to truly synchronize their various Apple products and create a cohesive Apple lifestyle…at least that’s the plan.
The reality might be much different for Apple, though, given the ill will the sudden announcement of the iPad 4 is generating among those who just recently shelled out hundreds of dollars to get the iPad 3. In fact, it’s the sort of consumer ire Apple has never really faced before, at least not from its dedicated throngs, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Cupertino Company weathers this storm.
Although its clear that Apple is looking to cash in on the lucrative holiday buying season, resetting the company’s release schedule, I have a sneaking suspicious that Cook may have overplayed his hand on this one, as issues with the iPhone 5 coupled with the relatively lacklustre list of features on the iPad Mini, and the betrayal that iPad 3 owners now feel seeing the iPad 4 are slowly breaking through the Steve Jobs induced hypnosis customers have found themselves in for many years now.
The simple fact is that Apple sells its products by marketing a lifestyle; but quick successive releases like this make it obvious the company is more interested in a cash grab then maintaining the veneer, and once customers see that, the whole illusion is ruined and Apple products seem, well, rather ordinary.