Last year was an interesting one for Apple. The Cupertino company released two full-sized iPads in one calendar year, while also introducing an iPad Mini that lacked a Retina Display.
The rumor mills have indicated that this might end up being the norm, as the iPhone 5S is now being rumored to launch earlier in the year with different variations in screen size and cameras.
These shortened product cycles are interesting, to say the least. What used to be a tightly controlled schedule of annual product launches and refreshes has degenerated.
Apple appears to now be joining in the rat race of manufacturers trying to push the latest and greatest technology. Let’s take a look and examine these changes and what they may mean for Apple’s future.
There’s no doubt that the moves stem as a result of increased competition in the marketplace. During the iPhone’s first years, it stood alone on the throne.
Competing Windows Mobile and Blackberry smartphones didn’t come close to matching the fluidity or advanced features of the iPhone and its capacitive touch screen. That has since changed, and in a big way. Although earlier versions of Android didn’t match up to iOS, the latest versions have caught up majorly.
Android now offers an experience that is on par with or even better than iOS. Manufacturers are also putting pressure on Apple: Google’s Nexus lineup of tablets has been a hit, and Samsung and Motorola have done a tremendous job of marketing their smartphones as better alternatives to iPhones.
Apple’s response, it would seem, has been to flood the market. Despite releasing the iPad 3 in the first half of 2012, it still released an iPad 4 this past November. This came as a response to the dramatic shift in the tablet landscape during the year, as the Nexus 10 and Samsung Galaxy Tab series started to eat at Apple’s market share.
The iPad Mini was also introduced, despite Apple executives having said that such a device would never happened. This was again in response to changes in the marketplace, only this time it was Apple reacting to the sudden popularity of seven-inch tablets.
What’s alarming about this trend on Apple’s part is that the pricing has stayed the same although the quality has dipped. For instance, the iPad Mini doesn’t even feature a Retina Display, yet it still costs 329 dollars. This is a typical Apple price, and it’s one that the company has always gotten away with charging.
However, Apple’s gotten away with charging so much because they made solid and highly refined products. If the new strategy is to be more like other manufacturers and flood the market with more products, then it makes little sense for Apple to keep the premium price tag. Eventually, consumers will wise up.
It will be interesting to see whether Apple sticks with this apparent strategy. It could be the case that the company simply had a rough transition last year and is trying to realign all of their upgrade cycles. More and more, though, this looks like the new norm for Apple – and it’s one we’re not sure we like.
Andy G is a tech geek from Austria. At the present moment he writes tech articles and maintains a Drivers software website called Helpjet.