Around thirty years after Steve Jobs unleashed the very first Mac computer, Apple Inc. has grown to such unprecedented heights, and has influenced the course of technology so greatly, that simply calling it an icon somehow fails to do it real justice.
It’s not surprising that Apple now ranks as the most valuable company in history, valued at more than 630 billion US dollars. So it would be safe to say that Apple runs the show as far as innovative computer technology goes.
Such success stories don’t come easy, nor are they led by anything less than pioneers and visionaries. Speaking of technology visionaries, the phrase makes us automatically think of Steve Jobs, the man who saved Apple from near bankruptcy and envisioned the iPad way back in 1983!
Jobs once said in a 1983 speech: “What we want to do is put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you, that you can learn to use in twenty minutes, and we really want it with a radio link in it so that you don’t have to hook up to anything to be in communication with all these larger databases and other computers”.
The original iPad
When the iPad finally launched in 2010, people looked at the Apple Keynote address and laughed, calling it an overgrown iPhone. It was difficult to see any real utility to this seemingly ludicrous device. Of course, the sceptics would soon have to eat their words when in only a few months the iPad launch was dubbed by several economists and market researchers as one of the most successful product launches in history.
Also, the power of the iPad as a product category drastically altered the course of mobile computing.
Like an avalanche – within a year of the original iPad’s release – came iPad 2: a faster, lighter, and thinner iPad with video and still camera capability. Not long after that we saw the release of the much anticipated iPad 3, or as Apple called it, the “new” iPad, with its retina screen and super-fast graphics.
Now there are unconfirmed reports that an iPad mini is to be announced in the coming days. With so many advancements in technology and devices launched within such a short span, there had to be repercussions.
Even Apple’s most loyal customers struggle to keep up with the steady stream of newer models and software upgrades. Apple, too, has admitted that as new models and devices roll out to the public, their design team is already deeply entrenched in developing the next upgrade.
However, newer models and better products ensure that a company is driven to work hard and advance technology as a whole.
It doesn’t end with devices as upgrades in software coerce people to buy newer hardware that supports it. Apple has been accused of enticing people to buy newer products and getting rid of their obsolete designs much faster than necessary.
A classic case in point is the rather saddening abandonment by Apple of the original iPad on their iOS6 keynote address. The once mighty iPad has now been divorced from the Apple ranks in a matter of minutes, thrown out into the cold.
The Apple bigwigs casually and nonchalantly announced that their new operating system for iPhones and iPads, the iOS 6, would not support the original iPad. What starker message could Apple give to their loyal consumers?
Forums and online communities dedicated to the original iPad are abuzz with rants and complaints. People are angry at the cold shoulder Apple gave them and their product.
“After all,” one writer says, “doesn’t Apple realise that WE were the ones who made the original iPad a success? We put our trust in Apple and bought this new product that not even we understood a lot about, and it was how WE used it that changed the way mobile computing is now thought of.”
The flip side
Others are arguing that even though the original iPad is no longer offered any upgrade, it can still access up to 80 per cent of all apps available on the App Store, and that it would continue to do so for many years to come.
Studies have been made to compare apps optimised for iOS 6 against their iOS 5 versions; and the results speak for themselves. Since there are no separate versions of apps for the three versions of iPads and their many subcategories, all of them get the same updates.
This means that updates for apps now have to cater to the iPad 3 with its retina screen, quad-core graphics and new operating system, while also being able to run on the original iPad. This makes each upgrade larger in size and more taxing on the processor of the older iPads.
In practical terms, software will now start to run slower and take up more space on the original iPad and loyalists will either have to cope or give in to upgrading to the newer iPads and iPhones.
Surely, a company run by visionaries and market leaders would be aware of all this. So, the only explanation is that they WANT people to upgrade, buy the newer versions, throw their older versions away, or at most, pass them down to their children as toys.
Apple, it seems, isn’t only in the business of selling hardware and software. There seems to be a much bigger agenda here, and that is of rapid technological advancement at a worldwide level. It seems we’re being catapulted to a higher technology level faster than we’ve ever been before – and that can’t necessarily be a bad thing, unless you’re of the old-school belief that technology will ultimately destroy us, or at least take away our freedom.
So, for the sheer sake of curiosity (provided you have the requisite moolah to spare), let us upgrade our iPads, iPhones and operating systems – whether they are made by Apple, Microsoft, or Google – get on this speed train and see where it takes us. With any luck, it will be forward.