Apple is often accused of trying to squeeze money out of consumers by releasing upgrades that aren’t really upgrades and just generally shortening the time between each new product. With the fourth gen iPad now shipping so soon after the third generation came out, even more people are upset about this.
For me personally, the story is quite another. Yes, the high resolution 2048 x 1536 screens on the two latest iPads looks great. But having that kind of a screen comes at a price. Weight, thickness, battery life, and charging time. Those are not insignificant issues, which is why I never jumped on the iPad 3 as if it were some sort of magical creation. I find it hard enough to justify upgrading my devices as is, so when a device isn’t actually an upgrade in every aspect, there’s a mental block that seems to stop me from going for it.
Half a year into the iPad 3’s existence and I’m still using my iPad 2. I’ve been close to selling my 3G 32GB Pad 2 to finance a 16GB WiFi iPad 3 several times, but it hasn’t happened. Now, Apple has gone ahead and added yet another reason why I should keep my old trusty iPad 2: Yes, it’s that bloody Lightning connector.
Look, I get why it’s needed. The reversibility feature is great, it takes up less space, it can handle more power (needed for these new iPads), and so on. But Apple is trying to make me pay for what’s an unavoidable change in the Apple eco system! I have the official Apple VGA adapter, HDMI adapter, and Camera Connection Kit. None of that works on the iPad 4 or iPad mini. The cost of replacing those accessories with the Lightning equivalents is 379+379+219+219 NOK here in Norway, where those accessories cost a lot more than in the US. That’s about $200. And I do need to replace them, as these are accessories I use, and apparently the Lightning/30 pin adapters don’t work with video out.
I think Apple is making a huge mistake here. What it should have done is offer a trade in program for all the official 30 pin accessories, and also included at least one adapter in the box for each Lightning device. Apple created the 30 pin eco system, Apple needs to change it, Apple should pay for it. It’s bad enough as it is that these accessories are needed, but simply ridiculous that they’re going to stand in the way of upgrading a product.
Apple is losing money on what it’s doing. I’m not the only one holding off on upgrading because of this issue, and people who aren’t upgrading because of silly reasons like this cost Apple money. Sure, those who do upgrade and buy new accessories help pay for it, but what would you rather have? A potential new iPhone, iPad, AND accessory buyer, or just the latter? I think that this is perhaps the worst possible moment that Apple could have chosen to switch connectors, as the last few generations of each product line are so interchangeable now that the connector switch is an actual issue to consider. Had the switch come with the release of the original iPad, with the massive upgrade from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4 half a year later, then Apple wouldn’t have been in the situation where it now has products that are practically identical but use different connectors.
I checked out the iPad mini today. Very thin, light, smooth. I’m not sure if I actually have any use for the portability it provides me, and I’m even more sure now that I’ve seen it that I simply can’t use it because of the lack of a digitizer pen. Still, there’s a part of me that looks at it and can’t help but drool a little bit. I really like the ~7-inch form factor, it’s just that I’m having troubles finding a use for it on Android. More than that though, there’s the lightning connector. It moves my internal conflict from “I like it but can I use it?” to “too expensive.” I have a 32GB 3G enabled iPad 2, and that would have to fund most of the price of an upgrade (to a simpler model) if I were to switch. The iPad mini on its own, no problem. Throw in adapter upgrades, no way.
If I’m going to upgrade my iPad, I’ll likely hunt down an iPad 3 rather than an iPad 4 or iPad mini. Apple slapped in a new chip to pretend the new iPad 4 isn’t just a connector change model, but in reality, that’s what it is. If I’m going to do that, I need to do it soon, or buy it used, otherwise I risk having to upgrade all my accessories. The fact that this cost is never going to go away, might just turn my iPad 2 into a very, very long-lived device for me.
I have to say, that for a company that’s in theory trying to get everyone to upgrade to the latest model of everything, Apple isn’t doing so well. It seems like every product since the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2 has been more of a sideways trade than an upwards one, at least for some aspects of the new products. Missing light sensor on the iPod touch, the iPod nano being just so completely different this time around (not in a good way if you ask me), new connector, heavier and thicker iPad, and so on and so forth. When you move that much sideways, you’re bound to hit a wall sooner or later.