ipad air: the next shiny new thing?
Sometimes, one of Apple’s product lines take a generational leap forward into a brave new world of consumer electronics. This is often the case in a new product launch, like when the iPhone or the iPad greatly altered public perception of what a computer is. Sometimes it takes place in an update as well. Products like the Retina iPad’s and Macbook Pro’s represented huge improvements in hardware over their predecessors.
The iPad Air is not one of those revolutionary updates. It boasts marginal improvements to graphics, processing, battery life, 4G/WiFi reception and size. It is also the first iPad optimized for iOS 7, with its 64 bit processor architecture and built in motion hardware (to save battery life on those fancy parallax animations).
But what do these marginal improvements mean? Well, if you were already in the market for a new full-size tablet, the iPad Air is the best offering available on the market. If you already have a tablet though, you’re probably better off saving your money.
Thus is the nature of computers. It’s easy to forget, more than a decade into the 21st century, but there was a time when computer products were not cool, not trendy and certainly not desirable. Not that long ago, being the first person with a new operating system or piece of hardware meant headaches, not status. Who found upgrading to Windows Vista fun? Who actually clammered to incorporate 64 bit processor architectures into their desktop PC’s when they were first appearing? Only hardcore computer enthusiasts.
However, a small handful of companies, led by Apple changed all that. They made purchasing new products on a one to two year release cycle a status symbol, accessible to the non-technical.
Contrary to what millions of dollars invested in marketing and a veritable army of under-employed bloggers would try to convince you of, technology is not sexy. Hardware development is an inexorable march of incremental improvements. Software development is an endless series of small design decisions that must combine into a cohesive product. Occasionally these two processes combine into a feature or product that flashes into public consciousness and general discussion like a bright star. More often though, they don’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
After all, it’s more than likely the next product to change the world will initially be misunderstood and panned by a blogosphere that can’t figure out how to write a witty title about it. So only buy a product if you have a need or problem that you think it can solve, not because it’s new and trendy.