iPad 4 and the Break Down of Decision-Making at Apple

iPad mini and the new new iPad. Two products that came to fruition without the blessing of the all mighty Steve Jobs. From what we can tell, the last Apple device to be anointed was the iPhone 5 with its slightly longer screen. It’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a smart move: competing product lines all feature 4 inch screens, whereas the iPhone was visibly smaller.

The iPad mini seems smart as well given the recent success of the kindle fire and amazing sales of the nexus 7.

But why in the world did Apple just announce a new iPad? Granted, the updated hardware is in fact minimal: A6X processor, lightning connector, no changes to screen or body. One could see this as a release of the new iPad S, with similar incremental upgrades as the iPhone 3GS and 4GS. However, those followed the yearly release schedule we’ve all become familiar with. With the the latest new iPad, it’s only <strong>seven months</strong> since the last iteration of the Apple tablet.

I have to wonder if this doesn’t signal a breakdown in the decision making process or perhaps high level disagreements in Apple leadership. Certainly, they had already planned for the Lightning connector for the iPhone 5 and one can assume that the tech was there when the new iPad was released (although perhaps not ready). Another possibility is this is a way to convince people to keep buying iPads off the shelf with iOS6, with all the complaints recently about maps and wifi.

I can’t help but think that if Steve was still around, we would see strict adherence to release schedules and damn the complaints.

Apple does need to be careful. Humans have a tendency to turn on their gods and those that represent them. And when they do, it can be quite vicious.

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  1. I think they’re just shifting to a new annual cycle timed to better catch the Christmas rush. This just makes sense, and I bet it’s been on the cards since before Jobs departed. Next year, they might pull it forward a bit further to catch Back to Schoolmas: they couldn’t really do that this time, as it really would have made the iPad “3”‘s reign ridiculously short.

    I did get a giggle out of Schiller accidentally referring to the three-minute old iPad “4” as “the previous iPad” while introducing the Mini.

    • That makes a lot of sense.

      As mentioned on the air earlier today, the iPad Mini does show an admission of weakness on the part of Apple. For the past 5 (?) years, they’re the ones leading the way in products, but the Mini is really a response to the success of other companies.

      This is one sign that their dominance is on the wane. Not that there’s any other challenger that comes close, but there’s just no way they maintain their dominance long-term.

      • I think other 7″ tablets are only part of the story. Emails that came out during the Samsung trial showed Eddie Cue arguing for a 7″ iPad as early as late 2010-early 2011, apparently with some success. That’s long before the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7; he does mention having used a Galaxy Tab, but the market still really wasn’t established at all. It may just have taken this long to reach a price/product balance they could live with. Even now, I bet it’s killing them to launch a new tablet without a Retina display.

      • That proves my point. Yes, they were considering it; Apple may have even been the first company to consider that form factor. But, they didn’t use it.

        As you said, the market wasn’t there yet. For the last five years, however, Apple didn’t wait for the market, they made the market.

        The iPad Mini is a departure from their status as leading mobile computing innovator. Their laptops and desktops are still the best out there and still setting the standard, but taking so long to make the iPhone screen larger and now the iPad mini shows they have lost some inertia.

        There is something to be said for apple waiting until they had something they could be satisfied with. They have shown that temperament with many products and features.

        I don’t mean to say that Apple will lose its dominance anytime soon. Rather, Tim Cook isn’t as strong a leader as we’re lead to believe Steve Jobs was.

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