Apple has Confused Tablet Market Domination with True Innovation

by Matt Klassen on October 28, 2014

As the first reviews emerge about Apple’s recently unveiled iPad Air 2 two common themes are abundantly clear: the latest iteration of the iPad is a half-hearted tablet upgrade that still delivers limited functionality, and despite these mounting criticisms, most reviews begrudgingly acknowledge it’s still the best tablet out there.

What’s different about the criticism of Apple’s latest tablet this time around, however, is that it’s no longer just the Apple-haters who are chiming in on what’s missing from these gadgets, it’s the rose-coloured-glasses, Apple-can-do-nothing wrong fans of the company who are finally exhaling that bated breath and realizing that they’re really not as enamoured with Apple’s product development as they thought they were. In fact, in perfect passive aggressive style Joanna Stern, who reviewed the product for The Wall Street Journal, gave this delightful back-handed compliment: “The best tablet needs to work harder.”

Both a damning critique of Apple’s subpar efforts in the tablet space and a sharp word about the overall disappointment of the tablet market, it is clear tablets can do more. Further, it’s clear behind Apple’s humble veneer lies an attitude of hubris and conceit, a company consumed by the misguided notion that since it’s a leader in the tablet market space that it is achieving great things, pushing the boundaries of technological innovation and development…it couldn’t be more wrong.

The key drawback of Apple’s iPad franchise, as it has always been, is its one-app-at-a-time functionality, effectively the absence of integrated multi-tasking. While one could live with such limitations on the original iPad, a consumer-oriented product with entertainment and time wasting as its primary purpose, it’s harder to understand Apple’s insistence on withholding multi-tasking, particularly as the iPad franchise looks to make inroads into business markets.

Sure the new iPad Air 2 has a beefed up processor, some nice graphics, and a flashy new upgraded camera, but come on, that’s not innovation, that’s incremental improvement at best. This lacklustre effort has even the most stalwart Apple lovers questioning whether or not the tablet is worth the purchase price. Sure it’s better than its predecessors, but as Walter Mossberg of Re/Code asks: “Is ‘better’ enough?” For him, the answer sadly was “probably not,” unless you really like taking better pictures with a beefy 10-inch tablet.

In fact, for Mossberg the only reason to really buy the new iPad Air 2 is for “future proofing,” investing now so that future upgrades to Apple’s iOS will run better on it. Not a compelling reason if you ask me.

The problem for Apple, as TechNewsWorld’s Chris Maxcer explains is that Apple is squandering its market position by wrongly equating tablet dominance with actual innovation, thinking that since it’s selling better than everyone else, its product must be better than everyone else’s. “Just because a kid chooses to buy the least burnt cookie at a school bake sale, that doesn’t mean the least burnt cookie is insanely great”, Maxcer notes.

Now truly it wouldn’t take much to rocket the iPad franchise into the next stratosphere, as all Apple would really need to do is copy what its competitors have already done. If Apple added multi-tasking, a physical external keyboard, and some other key functional elements, it’s unlikely Apple’s competitors would have a leg to stand on. As it stands, however, the iPad Air 2 is a disappointing upgrade, standing out in the tablet market not because of its innovation and excellence, but because it’s less terrible than everyone else’s.

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

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