Apple Plays Follow-the-Leader, Releases Enhanced iPad

by Matt Klassen on February 1, 2013

It wasn’t that long ago that Apple was seen by investors as a “can’t lose” proposition, as seemingly everything the Cupertino Company touched turned to gold. It first revolutionized the technology market with the iPod, with successive hits like the iPhone and iPad creating and then dominating their respective new markets. It was the golden age of Apple, a time when nothing could go wrong, and now it looks to be quickly fading into the rear-view mirror.

What we’ve seen out of Apple lately has been nothing short of disappointment, as under the leadership of CEO Tim Cook the once great success story has failed to deliver any paradigm shifting technology, choosing instead to tweak and update existing products. In fact, it seems Apple has taken on the role of follower in the mobile market, content to respond to competitors instead of creating benchmark products as it did under the watchful eye of the late Steve Jobs.

To that end, on Tuesday Apple announced changes to its 10-inch iPad series, a product that is practically defunct given the popularity of the 7-inch tablet space and the entrance of strong competitors like Microsoft’s Surface tablet. Instead of revolutionizing the tablet space however, Apple has clearly decided to take a page out of the Malibu Stacy playbook, rereleasing the tablet with nothing but a new hat increased storage capacity.

Still under the umbrella of the fourth generation iPad, Apple announced it will re-release the tablet with double the storage capacity. The new 128-Gb iPad will hit store shelves on Feb. 5, and will come with a steep increase in price (Wi-Fi only, US$799, Network Version, US$929).

Ostensibly nothing more than a minor rebranding of a struggling product, looking deeper into this move its clear Apple has finally realized the traditional boundaries between tablets and laptops have started to blur, and that people are now wanting tablets that offer the same functionality, storage, and power of a laptop. While this re-released iPad still doesn’t offer the same sort of productivity options users get with Microsoft’s Surface tablet, it’s certainly a step in the direction of a unified multi-platform experience that will, for Apple at least, finally include its laptops.

You see, until recently Apple has instituted a firm demarcation between its mobile products and its computer products, using different operating systems on both that in turn offer different user experiences. However, with Microsoft blending the Windows 8 experience between PC and tablet, it was obvious Apple would have to respond, and this new iPad is simply the first step in that response.

But here’s the thing that confuses me: I can’t even remember the last time I thought of Apple as a follower in any technology related market. For years Apple has created a reputation of revolutionizing markets, creating technology that others are forced to copy. Lately, however, Apple has only been know for incremental upgrades, playing follow-the-leader as others have taken up the mantle of technological trailblazers.

That said, it’s nice to Apple working to enhance the iPad experience, making it more versatile and ultimately more useful for those looking for a tablet that delivers productivity and entertainment; whether Apple will ever regain its role as a mobile leader, however, remains to be seen.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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