Thursday 30th October 2014,

Editorial

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A Big Trap Named Apple

By admin

Since 2010, Apple hasn’t streamed an event live, but yesterday the Cupertino-based company broke all the rules. Besides the official announcement of the iPad Mini, we saw the fourth generation iPad and learned many interesting things about the largest mobile ecosystem in the world. Apple fans were impressed a lot, but those who don’t like iDevices or are indifferent towards them do not think the tablets that were announced by Apple are worthy of so much attention. I confess that I wasn’t surprised at what I saw at the event, and — I hope Apple fans will forgive me — I’ll try to discover what a game Apple is playing and whether it’s not dangerous for the company.

Apple was streaming the press event to Apple TV and Apple.com as well. So this is the first hint that the company is doing its best to become more social and popular. All in all, every move made by Apple comes to prove that the company wants to become king in the smartphone and tablet markets, but I know at least one handset maker, HTC, that tried to run the same “Alexander the Great strategy” (to conquer the world and to spread the Greek culture everywhere) and failed. If you’ve ever studied history, you’ll remember many leaders who wanted to become divine monarchs and failed. Though times have changed, goals of people/companies will never change — they all want power and fame.

Perhaps Apple can afford dreaming about a sole reign, because it designs handsets that become examples for all other manufacturers. No matter how much I dislike the iPhone, it was the first smartphone on the market, it did make a revolution back then.

Innovative ideas like this gave the company a head start, and as a result, Apple currently has 700,000 iOS apps including 275,000 optimized for iPad; 35 billion apps have been downloaded till now, $6.5 billion was paid out to developers making iOS one of the most profitable ecosystems in the world. 125 million documents have been uploaded to the iCloud, 300 billion iMessages have been sent since the service launched (send rate of 28,000 per second), 70 million photos were shared in the Shared Photo Stream; 1.5 million books are available on the iBookstore, with 400 million books downloaded to date.

Apple’s statistics is astonishing even in terms of hardware; Mac is the #1 desktop and #1 laptop in the US, Mac sales have been outperforming the PC industry for 6 consecutive years, over 3 million iPods (iPod Touch and iPod Nano) have been sold since launch, 100 million iPads sold to date. Besides, the iPhone sold 5 million units opening weekend, and more iPads were sold in June than any PC maker sold in its entire lineup. Looking at these numbers no one including me can detract this company, but again, let’s not hurry and meet the freshly announced iPad Mini and iPad 4 and find out what’s the catch.

As the name suggests, the iPad Mini is more portable due to its smaller, thinner, and lighter form factor — you can even hold it with one hand, just like a big smartphone. It can also be put into a purse, jacket pocket, or even trousers pocket, and many people think it’s one of the main advantages of this mini slate. However, I can’t quite agree with this. First of all, if Apple thinks it’s better to launch a smaller (therefore, more portable) tablet, why were the previous three versions released in the same 9.7-inch size? So I guess there are other reasons for the company to out a 7.9-inch tablet. I think it has something to do with the success of the Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire. I mean Apple realized the niche of smaller yet very popular tablets “doesn’t belong” to it, so it decided to take the wheel in its hands — typical behavior for a monarch.

Second, do those who claim that putting a tablet into a pocket is very handy remember why CD makers decided to change the box size? [The original CD box size was 120mm, and it was very easy to put it into the inner pockets of suits. This was noted by pilferers who started visiting music stores and put CDs into their pockets and went out without any problem. CD makers understood this and decided to change the box size. Now many CD/DVD boxes come in 136mm, which prevents thefts.] So if the iPad Mini can easily be put into a pocket, do not forget that it’ll be as easy to steal it from there.

Anyway, the iPad Mini is very slim, just 7.2mm and as Apple mentioned, “thinner than a pencil.” In this sense, the manufacturer has designed the slimmest tablet on the globe. Plus, the iPad Mini weighs only 0.68 lbs or 308 grams.

The mini variant of the iPad sports a 7.9-inch touchscreen at 1024 x 768 pixels resolution, just like the iPad 2. So the Nexus 7 has a sharper display, but the iPad Mini is still more comfortable for web browsing, thanks to its 4:3 aspect ratio providing a bigger usable area on the screen. Moreover, this also means every software made for the iPad 2 will be compatible with the iPad Mini, too.

The new small iPad also has a dual-core A5 SoC also found on the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S, a 5MP iSight camera, which should be identical to the one found on the new iPad, a front-facing camera for Face Time videos at 720p, LTE, a 10-hour battery life, and other features.

So we didn’t see any outstanding feature in the new iPad Mini, right? But if you read comments, you’ll see how excited people are with this model. They even said now the iPad is affordable for everyone. You are severely mistaken, guys! The iPad Mini 16GB will be sold for $329, the 32GB model comes at $429, and the 64GB variant is priced at $529. Sounds good, but add $130 to each model, otherwise your iPad Mini won’t support LTE, and all those talks about switching to faster connectivity will be senseless. But the truth is that these price tags are eye-catching if compared to the full-sized iPads, but when we look at the Nexus 7’s price (which is the main rival of the Mini), we see it’s $80 cheaper. May the iPad Mini rest in peace – AMEN!

On the whole, yesterday’s Apple press event was the worst-kept secret in recent memory — no one was waiting for the company to unveil the iPad Mini seven months after the last iPad was released.

If you are aware, the Microsoft Surface will be launched on October 26 alongside with the revolutionary Windows 8. Moreover, I’m even sure the Surface will dethrone the iPad, even though it won’t be that easy — according to Apple, the iPads account for 91% of all tablet web traffic meaning they are the absolute leaders in the market. However, as an ancient adage says, this shall pass too. So no matter what Microsoft’s tablet has all the chances to snatch a huge market share from Apple, and perhaps this new iPad 4 was suddenly launched just to overshadow the Surface.

Well, let’s see whether the fourth generation iPad is powerful enough to stand against the Surface. The iPad 4 is packed with a 9.7-inch screen (Retina Display at 264ppi), an A6X processor that has twice the graphical performance of the A5X, Lightening connector, LTE, a 5MP rear camera, a 720p HD frontal camera, a  battery providing 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and so on. The dimensions of the iPad 4 are 41.2 x 185.7 x 9.4mm (9.5 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches) and it weighs 652g (1.44lb), so the iPad Mini is 53% lighter.

The 16GB Wi-Fi-only iPad 4 will cost $499. The pre-orders will start on October 26 and ship on November 2. Carriers will start selling it two weeks later. But, according to CNET, those who have purchased their new iPad devices within 30 days of the iPad 4 announcement can pay an extra costs and exchange their current model with the iPad 4. Damaged units won’t be replaced, and you should also know that not all stores will offer this deal to you. Today I have also learned that the third-generation iPad is now sold for $379 refurbished, i.e. there are many options you can choose from.

As a conclusion, the iPad 4 and iPad Mini are not completely new devices that can surprise real geeks, but they are a good addition to Apple’s arsenal. Thanks to them the manufacturer can now fight in all niches, though many people still can’t understand why Apple announced the iPad 4 now. It seems like the main reason is to make a rough competition to the Microsoft Surface, but analysts also point out another reason — the iPad 4 comes with a Lightning connector, and to unify its mobile ecosystem Apple unleashed this slate now.

Actually, such statements don’t convince me, but they can impress those who want to own one of Apple’s devices. The net gives several reasons why people should get the iPad Mini mentioning that it is very comfortable to use as a car navigation companion and it’s the smallest iPad ever. But if Apple can entrap consumers with such tricks, tomorrow they can launch a round iPad, and most people will buy it, too, just because it is the first round tablet in the world.

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