WTF is this iPad Air thing?

Apple's wow factor evaporates a little further

WTF is this iPad Air thing

Apple fans, you better duck. I'm taking aim. And you know what's coming. iPad Air? iPad Mini with Retina display? Is that it?!

OK, I'll admit it - I will probably get one. But before you call me a hypocrite, hear me out. The fact is, I'll probably end up taking it back, too, thanks to that 14-day returns period.

Let's be honest here. Apple seems to have lost the plot. I watched the announcement like everyone else, waiting for a shooting star to appear on stage. Instead, I got the splatter of a wet lettuce - albeit one that's significantly lighter with a smaller bezel.

Circle of strife

I'll give Apple its dues - the iPad Air is a great step forward. But look at what it is replacing - the iPad 4, which was not much different to the iPad 3. There is nothing really innovative here.

Yeah, the bezel has been slimmed. Yay! It's lighter. Whoop!

But it still can't do the laundry or make me a frickin' cup of tea, can it? Can it?

The first iPad was a revolutionary product. It may have initially been derided as a large iPod Touch, but it set the tone. I'll give Apple that.

And the second iPad was pretty damn pleasant too - because it changed the dimensions of what we already had. But the thing is, right from iPad 1, there's been another strategy Apple's been working on... and that is to only give 90%, dressing it up as one hundred. To always keep something back.

Holding back

"For the last two iterations, we've got little improvements and now, we're told something lighter will make it all OK? Give me a break!"

What am I talking about? Hands up if you screamed, kicked, bit and threatened to torch the joint because the first iPad came without a camera. Why? It was such an obvious omission.

The theory was Cupertino was keeping that for iPad 2 to give us reason enough to upgrade. Then iPad 2 came along, a lot sexier with a camera, but packing a crap display at a time when Retina was just taking off. WTF Apple? You're better than this.

And so, for the last two iterations, we've got little improvements and now, we're told something lighter will make it all OK? Give me a break! And don't get me started on the missing Touch ID. What is that about? Clearly, it's being kept for the next model, to give us extra incentive to upgrade next year.

You can see this strategy all over - the iPad Mini only just got a Retina display. Why? Why did it not launch with one 12 months ago?! I'll tell you why - because then there would have been nothing to set it apart for customers come October 2013.

This is an appalling strategy, smacking of desperation from a company that is anything but. And before you shoot me down telling me the specs are higher internally, remember that for many people who are sold on looks, that's insignificant.

A cuter design or a nicer screen will shift infinitely more units than the difference between an A1 chip and an A9000000 chip when you're pitching to someone asking "Does this thing do Facebook?"

World leader's woes

Apple's pride was evident on stage. We were told in reverential tones that "Apple has listened".

Here's an idea: how about you don't listen, Apple? How about you shut your ears and get to work on something that's going to wow us. Like the day we got the first iPad announcement? Like the day Steve Jobs pulled a MacBook Air out of an envelope? Apple doesn't listen. Apple leads and we listen. Or that's what's meant to happen.

I know the iPad is the biggest selling tablet line on the planet and I completely get that it's the best - in some people's eyes. The iPad Air is beautiful. But it's not amazing.

That gap between iDevices and competitors is getting narrower every day, and Apple's got to innovate if it wants to stay in the lead. I can't help thinking that aspect - the real innovation - died with its co-founder, two years ago.