Apple computer is a driving force in consumer electronics. It also has the distinction of being the one technology company that often builds products for itself. Apple’s new third-generation iPad is a great example. Its upgraded screen and display technologies absolutely improve the lean-forward tablet computing experience.
I sreally hope Android and Windows 8 tablet computer makers will follow Apple in several key areas: 1) improved screen resolution, 2) overall performance, and 3) Integrated applications that match or best Apple’s iLife and iWorks software suite.
But there is an element of Apple’s 4G iPad platform that I think reveals a flaw in Apple’s strategy. The error is a belief that 4G support is critical. It’s not and here’s why. 4G isn’t available nationally (or even regionally here in CA). Moreover, 4G increases both the acquisition and lifetime costs of hardware. And the cost of adding 4G to a device comes at a time when tablet makers understand that the tablet market is price sensitive and consumers are looking for bargains.
Carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and others want business professionals to adopt 4G connectivity en masse. But data plans are expensive, and in many cases the amount of 4G data you can send or receive is capped.
The cost of equipping mobile professionals is not insignificant, and I’m sure that Apple’s execs and marketing execs do not pay their cell phone bills with personal checks. I am not an absolute 4G opponent. My complaint is the disconnect between product designers and marketing executives that filters out the increased cost of the feature
To be completely honest, one of the best portable computing experiences I’ve had was a Lenovo X60 with an integrated cell modem, writing and filing a story from a hilltop above Fuller Lake CA with a line of sight view to a Verizon cell tower. Although I was able to maintain a connection with enough bandwidth to download graphics the connection wasn’t fast enough to watch YouTube videos.
Frankly watching a movie on a 4G connection is troublesome. Long pauses for buffering make me realize the value of solid 802.11 n wireless connections. Pauses in data streams interfere with the lean-forward experience. But a new iPad is here. I was interested enough in it today to wait 20 minutes to play with it. It’s well built and its display is a genuine “wow!” I like its USB port and solid construction. But what I really admire is Apple’s software upgrades. In fact, I admire that so much, I wish all tablet makers would copy the experience.
Has Apple ever built products for itself before? You bet it has. The original Macintosh and Macintosh Plus as well as Apple Newton (Gulp!) are part of that legacy.—Jim Forbes on 03/12/2012