My first take on Apple’s iPad event on October the 22 was “Meh.” Surprisely, many Apple advocates like Ben Thompson and Marco Arment appear to share my opinion.
We know that people are using iPads in all sorts of different ways. Look, firefighters are launching space shuttles with an iPad! Farmers are building wind turbines and composing songs! And Apple can’t wait to see what we do with our iPads.
But they already know. Everyone knows what people do with iPads, because iPads have been heavily used in public for over three years. It looks like most people use iPads for basic web tasks (email, browsing, Facebook), reading, and, importantly, casual gaming. Going into the holiday season, in which tons of iOS devices are usually sold that will primarily be casual-gaming devices, Apple hardly even mentioned games.2 Is that because they don’t need to, since games are already a popular iPad use, or because they’re not in touch with one of the biggest reasons people buy iPads?
Suppose the event worked, and we’re all jazzed up to buy the new iPads. Well, too bad — you can’t even preorder either of them yet. The iPad Air will be released 10 days after the event with no preorders, and the one likely to be in much higher demand — the Retina Mini — doesn’t even have a release date yet, except “later in November”.
Mavericks, iLife, iWork, and the incrementally updated Retina MacBook Pros look good, but I can’t help but feel like the event wasn’t up to Apple’s standards.
It’s not that the content is boring. The products Apple shows off at these events are still interesting — for the most part — but the presentations are getting old.
Here’s the script: Timothy D. Cook comes out on stage in his signature jeans and black shirt — usually untucked. He shows off some statistics. Then other execs take the microphone to show off new software that we’ve already seen.
There are a few jokes; the audience laughs.
Then comes Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, who talks about new hardware and confuses everyone by touting an “Intel Xeon E5 chip,” and a “10 MB L3 cache and Turbo Boost,” and “cores” and other things most people know absolutely nothing about. (It’s as if he’s speaking Klingon.)
Then Mr. Cook is back on stage to introduce a new version of an iPad or iPhone or iPod. Then Mr. Schiller again to explain, in Klingon, the guts of the new iPad or iPhone or iPod. Then there’s a video of Jony Ive talking about the new iPad or iPhone or iPod. “It’s the best [iPad or iPhone or iPod] we’ve ever made,” Mr. Ive says in his smooth British accent.
The shows are like watching someone perform the same magic show over and over. Eventually it stops looking like magic.