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The iPad Mini is a Good Idea, But Yet Another Apple Snooze Fest

By Larry Magid

I’ve been pushing for an iPad Mini for months, so I’m obviously glad they’re likely to announce one later this month, but let’s not get too excited about Apple once again catching up with its competitors.

Like the over-hyped and equally over-criticized iPhone 5, the iPad Mini will be a welcome addition to Apple’s line and may even help to stem the erosion of its marketshare (which has gone from 81% to 51% in the past year according to Pew Research.

But, as the inevitable announcement day comes closer, let’s not lose site of the fact that this is just another tablet in the evolutionary chain of technology, not a revolutionary product like the original iPhone or the first iPad.

I’m predicting a snooze fest not because of lack of interest in the product or lack of theatrics during the announcement but because I’d be very surprised if we see anything incredibly revolutionary relative to what we’ve seen in other tablet announcements. Even if the new product has attributes and features that weren’t covered in all of the pre-announcement hype, they’re not likely to be all that revolutionary.

Evolution is good

I actually give Apple credit for not making enormous changes in its product line. It has good products and it’s doing the right thing but improving them gradually over time.  The blogoshpere and the press tend to view Apple products as far more important than those of their competitors, regardless of whether they’re technologically superior.  That’s understandable given Apple’s enormous success, but it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy and feeds on itself.

As I said in an earlier post, there are a lot of reasons for that including the fact that posts about Apple get a lot more hits than posts about other companies. Even the press is driven by market demands.

Building on existing new technologies

Of course, even though Apple is a technology company, it’ doesn’t generally invent the underlying technology that allows it to create new products. It smartly takes advantage of what’s out there.  The iPod was a creature of better and cheaper storage, better battery technology and market demand for portable music players. The iPhone was Apple’s answer to the (then) popular Blackberry, taking advantage of technology breakthroughs made by other companies, cleverly packaged by Apple’s world-class design team and topped off with excellent software. I say this not to demean Apple’s enormous abilities, but to put them into a larger historical context as someone who’s been following tech (and Apple) for 30 years.