Disappointed with Apple Today :-(

I know the fanbois are falling all over themselves today to laud the new gadgets Apple announced. Like them, I sat in rapt attention following the streams of info coming out of SF a few hours ago. Net-net, I’m just not that impressed. I still LOVE my iPad 2 and use it all the damn time. LOVE IT! But I was hoping for more from the iPad 3.

Even the curmudgeons in the crowd (like YT) have to hand it to them re: the iPad 3 display. It truly does look like a thing of immense and impressive beauty. I doff my cap in well-earned respect. However, the thing is, there are plenty of devices that have launched over the past years that have pixel densities similar to (and greater than) the iPad 3. Check out this (incomplete) list on Wikipedia, for example. What Apple is doing with the iPad 3 retina display isn’t about pixel density – it’s about pushing the manufacturers to get larger total-usable-square-inch yields out of their glass. It’s one thing to produce 333 ppi (LG LU1400) on a 16:9 2.8″ diagonal screen that totals less than 3.5 square inches of glass. With the iPad 3 you’re now talking about that sort of level of zero-defect glass totaling nearly 42 square inches! That’s 12X (TWELVE TIMES!) larger – more than an order of magnitude! What’s impressive here is NOT the general pixel density. What’s impressive is that the supplier(s) can produce this glass at this ppi at these sizes repeatably, reliably, and (presumably) profitably. As one twitterer put it about these Apple events: it’s “fun to see what Samsung will be shipping in six months”. If supplier X can manufacture 264 ppi at 42 sq.in. as of 01/01/12, then everybody will have access to that (and better) in a matter of months.

The A5X appears to be impressive. But the Tegra 4 is already in early test runs and will probably smoke the A5X. Moore’s Law happens. Never mind the chips that N other manufacturers are working on to outperform the A5X and the Tegra 4 and so on. Apple leans on multiple global experts to innovate on displays, but Apple is assuming a huge risk in keeping its processors in-house. The competitive market is more likely to innovate faster than  Apple can internally over time. I guess they’ve “picked their poison”, perhaps?

The camera update was grossly overdue. The camera in the iPads 1 and 2 was a joke when each were respectively released. It’d be interesting to learn though why they went with this 5MP solution instead of an 8 or 10. My guess is that the camera in my HTC Amaze will out-shoot the iPad 3’s camera. And I can slot SD cards in and out when I need more space to store more pictures!

And, of course, the iPad 3 still won’t run Flash :-( . Sigh. Dear Apple: please feel free to keep your religious beliefs out of my technology needs.

What I wanted to see was a retina display, an A5X, an SD card slot, Flash support, and an 8MP or better camera. LTE is irrelevant – I’ve been and will continue to tether my WiFi tablets to my phone(s). I came this close to buying an ASUS Transformer Prime tablet a couple months ago, but balked as they sort out some radio problems et. al. My guess is that during the summer my iPad 2 will be replaced by an Android tablet and the boss or kids will get the hand-me-down.

The Apple TV updates were purely incremental and grossly overdue to keep up with the Jones’s ($70 for an XD, delivered). The new Apple TV sell well though, since a lot of the uber-geek Apple fanbois wouldn’t buy at 720p and have been waiting patiently. Too bad Apple’s software apparently isn’t keeping up – maybe it’ll bump to iOS next cycle?

There’s always the next keynote…

8 comments

  1. tjt

    “My guess is that during the summer my iPad 2 will be replaced by an Android tablet and the boss or kids will get the hand-me-down.”

    Good luck with that.

  2. Albert Willis (@alwillis)

    I feel it’s a mistake to look individual components in Apple’s products and then say “product X” has a faster/better/more cutting edge version of whatever Apple is shipping.

    It literally doesn’t matter because Apple is about making products that are more than the sum of various components. It’s the combination of the hardware and the software that make Apple products great.

    The fact that the new iPad doesn’t have an SD card or run Flash isn’t a surprise; it’s almost not even worth mentioning anymore. Apple is never going to ship Flash on iOS—that’s been clear since Steve wrote “Thoughts on Flash” (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/) nearly two years ago. Now that Adobe has depreciated mobile Flash, I’m not sure what the issue is. iCloud combined with 4G LTE and wi-fi makes it hard to justify putting in a SD card slot.

    There’s no risk to Apple for designing their own processors in-house. When they bought P.A. Semi, they got their ARM license and processor designers. At the scale Apple is operating (315 million iOS devices and counting) and how integrated the hardware and software has to be to get the level of functionality Apple requires, it only makes sense for them to make what they need when they need it instead of buying “off the rack.”

    Alan Kay famously said “people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” Apple is serious about both of course, but particularly about software.

    It’s hard to argue with the financial results—iOS as a product line didn’t exist five years ago (March of 2007) and now it’s 76% of revenue of a company with the largest market capitalization on the planet. Until something changes, Apple should keep doing what’s working.

    What’s fascinating is watching companies with outdated business models (treating tablets like PCs) attempting to compete with Apple. Tim Cook said by their count, there are over 100 tablets being made; I expect that number to steadily decrease as companies stop making tablets because they can’t do so at a profit.

  3. Michael

    Does apple design the processor? Don’t they basically use an arm processor just like nvidia?

  4. Shawn Broderick

    Regardless of what value judgement you may make on Flash, there are petabytes of Flash content out there I simply can’t consume on my iPad 2, which sucks ass big time :-( .

  5. Will Herman

    I bow to your astute analysis (FWIW, I finished my first drink already – a 4X shot of rye plus something else I can’t really remember). With that disclaimer, I have to say that I totally agree with your thoughts about in-house chip development. Just dumb. Really? You’re going to compete against ARM, nVidia, the great chipzilla, Intel and others? Never works out well that way.

    Did the iPad 1 have a camera?

    Flash may not be great, but it is a defacto standard and it’s ubiquitous. That makes support of it a requirement for me . . .

  6. Steve An

    Flash sux! Collectively, we can and should do better. I don’t give a rat’s ass about Jobs’s vendetta against Adobe, which as a company, also sucks ass.

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