So the event this week was big and I’d say the hype was warranted. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have seen pre-sale orders that are record breaking and the Apple Watch will have people buzzing for months. Coming out of Tuesday’s event, the Apple Watch was the most talked about announcement. That’s since shifted to the iPhone, as people get pumped about their yearly upgrade. So, what’s the follow-up? Specifically, in years past, next up would be the iPad. Last year, they were able to reboot the full-size iPad with the iPad Air. Sharing the stage was the iPad mini with retina display, essentially creating tablet perfection personified. That brings us to this year. Should Tim Cook and company hit the stage again this year to announce new iPads?
iPad Special Event During An Evolutionary Year?
The way Apple has positioned their products, the two major lines takes turns with their bi-yearly hardware revisions. Each year, we get either a major change to design of either the iPhone or iPad. Last year, Apple completely redesigned the full-sized iPad, ushering in the thinner iPad Air. Still, one could argue the addition of a retina display to the iPad mini was of more interest to customers. If this year plays out in typical fashion, this year will be more about the internals. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we’ll see an A8 processor, improved camera(s) and the addition of Touch ID. The last is important if Apple wants the entire 2014 line of products supporting Apple Pay. If you thought taking pictures with an iPad was the new fanny pack, just wait until they pull out an iPad Air to pay for coffee. Still, it would create a synergy across the entire 2014 iOS devices.
Phones Matter More Than Tablets
People upgrade their iPhones more so than their tablets. Last year’s evolutionary iPhone upgrade brought Touch ID, which is a big feature for phones. For tablets, not so much. I’m sure there is a fairly large group of folks that take their tablets on the road each and every day. Similarly, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that some folks use their tablet on the coach, in bed and in their office. Their tablets don’t leave home, save for a business trip or family vacation. Are these folks password protecting their iPads? Touch ID would be a nice value-add, but it’s a far more impressive feature for phone users. For most users, iPhones are their primary devices, with iPads secondary. You’re more likely going to spend your upgrade dollars on your primary device. Apple doesn’t help matters much by building great tablets that don’t compel users to upgrade. Up until this year, they were still selling the iPad 2. That’s very telling, from a company that cares about customer experiences. The iPad 2 remained a very capable tablet. Using sales as a barometer, evolutionary upgrades to iPads are a lot less interesting to the average consumer than similar upgrades to iPhones.
Continuing the trend of bigger than bigger
This year, they are declaring war on Samsung. The next big thing is here, well maybe it’s on backorder, but it’s going to be here. The iPhone 6 Plus is a drastic change for Apple. It’s as if someone in the company said, “Screw it, we don’t like big phones, but our customers want them.” Sellouts of the iPhone 6 Plus seem to confirm this, though it remains unclear just how much supply Apple had on hand. It puts companies like Samsung in a precarious position. The company that essentially created the phablet category, no longer has a decided advantage when it comes to screen size. Now, let’s look at the tablet space. Samsung is using a similar strategy, offering a 12.2-inch tablet. There have long been rumors of a bigger iPad and maybe this is the year. Now that Apple is selling this ‘plus’ moniker for iPhones, it wouldn’t be difficult to adopt for a new iPad Air Plus.
This past event seems like a tough act to follow. In a year where expectations are evolutionary, does the iPad warrant a special event? If they did forgo the event, would that create a larger vacuum for those beating the iPad is dead drum? Events also help drive an incredible amount of media coverage that help drive the all-important holiday sales season. So despite what might appear to be evolutionary upgrades, don’t be surprised if you see word of invites being received in the coming weeks.
Are you excited to hear what Apple has planned for the new iPad?