There was quite a bit of momentum behind the idea that the new iPad would be called iPad 3. So much so that there was a rumour shortly before the presentation that it would be called iPad HD.
Some of the reviewers found it easier to refer to their review device as iPad 3 — even John Gruber headlined his review iPad (3)…though he clarified this as “the new iPad a.k.a. (for comparison’s sake) the iPad 3”.
Why does the name matter? I think it matters a lot and Apple is telling us four things with its nomenclature:
- The specification is not really important. Reviewers will focus on the specification, since that is their task, and they will dutifully list the improvements in the hardware: amazing retina display, multifarious connectivity, better camera, battery the same — amazing! That’s it. No more to say. …. oh yes, there is one more thing. This is the best iPad ever (so far). That is why it doesn’t need a number and its not really relevant to be comparing specs with the latest Android device, or some soon to be launched Windows tablet. This is not a competition like jet fighters in the 50’s where the first one off the blocks had Mach 2, and then there was one with Mach 3, to be toppled by one with Mach 4, and then some hot little Mig climbed into the higher atmosphere at Mach 6, until they realised that they could only run at that kind of speed for 20 minutes (battery power again). This isn’t that kind of race. The iPad is the iPad and from now on the new one is the best. Apple is saying that numbers don’t matter.
- The hardware does matter. But its not the killer punch. Apple will be quite content if other consumer electronics companies and competing computer manufacturers go off and try to produce better tablets. That is not a competitive threat, even if they produce something thinner and lighter. All the glitz and excitement that attends the launch of a new iPad concentrates on the new hardware, but the key fact is that Apple has reached escape velocity in software and services and the no-change name is telling us that. The hardware is not where things are happening. There are half a million iPad apps out there and they (nearly) all run on the new device. The new device does not change the platform it simply consolidates it. So app developers and consumers can rest assured that everything works as it should and the good thing just got better.
- Well designed apps will run even better on the new device. So maybe 20% of the iPads that Apple sold in the first weekend went straight to app developers who are frantically polishing their apps, and spiffing up performance. But its all essentially backwards compatible, so we don’t need numbers or those strange acronyms that go with the Android platform (‘Froyo’, ‘Gingerbread’, ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ — F, G, ICS; frankly we could not make this up). Its all iPad and only iPad, there is even more reason to buy an iPad, because most of the apps you would like to buy are going to be better within a month than they were a week ago. Also there is every reason to buy this iPad because Apple has just told you that its likely to remain pretty forward-compatible also.
- There will be a still better iPad. Next year. You can count on it, and that message is in the no-change name also.