Rumors have been flying for some time now,
but the much talked about iPad «mini» is likely to be launched by Apple on October 23rd.
Invitations for the event have gone out, reading «we’ve got a little more to show you» and a 7 inch iPad is the most likely new product we’ll see.
The mere fact that Apple is launching a smaller version of its iPad is something worth talking about. Steve Jobs, Apple’s long-time CEO and resident genius who passed away last year, famously said that pads smaller than 10 inches would be a failure. Of course he was talking about products from competitors, and talking up the «ideal» size of 10 inches which the iPad was. Also according to Steve, 3,5 inches was the ideal screen size for a smartphone but that hasn’t stopped Apple from releasing a 4 inch iPhone five recently.
On the one hand, you can applaud Apple for not clinging onto outdated concepts for too long. The competition, most notably Samsung and Amazon in the tablet space, have already shown that there is a considerable market out there for products that are bigger and smaller than what Jobs once considered to be the ideal standard.
On the other hand, it is worrying to see a company that prides itself on innovation simply follow the beaten path instead of cutting a new, previously unknown path through the multimedia jungle. Apple is at risk of falling into the hands of complacency, and appearing to have run out of ideas.
The original iPod was a work of genius, in this case literally. So was the iPhone and the original iPad. But it’s been a while now since Apple has wow-ed us. It’s a bit like watching another sequel to a sequel of a great movie. It’s still fun to watch, but very rarely do sequels produce the kind of emotion and surprise that the original did. Of course there’s always the Godfather trilogy, but even they understood that 3 was enough.
Of course there are exceptions. We still like to go and watch Bond movie number 23. We’d still like to buy a Porsche 911, even though you can hardly tell the difference between the new one and one from 5 generations ago. Sometimes, simply improving a great concept works. But smartphones and tablets are evolving at breakneck speed, and Apple is at risk of falling behind.
There’s nothing to worry about for the immediate future. Apple customers are, on the whole, quite loyal to the brand, and will continue to buy Apple products for now. They also have a premium image, something of nearly infinite value, which is reflected in the price of Apple shares.
But it’s hard work to maintain that image. Simply introducing the same phones and tablets over and over with a few small tweaks does not cut it in the long run. We want to see another stroke of genius. Investors as well as consumers would like to see another stroke of genius come out of Apple. Even if it’s just to reassure us that Apple’s spirit did not die together with Steve.
We’re still waiting to find out.