iPad 2 And The Yearly Consumer

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You knew it was coming.We know how this works now. Apple releases a “groundbreaking” new product, and within a year of its release, Steve Jobs is back on stage in his tucked in black turtleneck and jeans to announce a new version of it, complete with minor changes and the same pricetag.

Such is the case with the iPad 2. Oh there’s improvements sure. The new iPad is 33 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than the first model. There’s now a dual core A5 processor and two cameras, one having the ability to shoot 720p and the other a VGA camera for FaceTime and Photo Booth. Finally, there will be HDMI output and it will release with the new iOS 4.3.

Wondering whether there’s a price cut? Don’t be silly! The iPad 2 will be the same price as the current model with prices starting at $499 just for a WiFi 16GB model. You can pay your yearly allowance to your Apple overlords on March 25th.

Steve Jobs was appropriately smug, saying that “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”

But really, lets step back for a moment. Why do you need a iPad 2 not one year after its predecessor was released?Regardless of your opinion on the device (I think it’s nothing more than a novelty), the iPad is a perfectly competent piece of technology and will carry out all of the tasks it claims it can do. What difference is this new model going to make? Oh sure, it’s a bit thinner and lighter, but most consumers will not be running any apps that will require dual core processing power. If Angry Birds runs fine on my friend’s Orange San Francisco then it’ll run just fine on the iPad. As for the iPad 2’s cameras, if I wanted to shoot 720p video I would just buy a camcorder. It’d be much cheaper.

The iPad 2 will go on to be just another example of the yearly consumer world we now live in. Back in “ye olde days” of technology, the 1-2 year upgrades made sense. Technology itself was moving at a rapid pace, and new technologies actually offered new viable features. If you look at mobile phones, they originated as big brick shaped behemoths that ran in monochrome and could only be used in a traditional sense. Then they got smaller to the point where they earned their name and the ability to text was available. Colour was the next step and eventually we now have the super powerful smartphones of today.

My point is, we have reached a time where upgrading our hardware every 6 months or a year simply isn’t needed anymore if you’re an average consumer. No matter how many different types of apps get created, the most popular ones will still be able to be used on any devices of the past 2-3 years. Ultimately, are you really going to be carrying out such power hungry and complicated tasks on a smartPHONE that you need the latest top of the range device every few months? They’re 2-4 inch rectangles at the end of the day, any serious work requires a device that is suitable for it. You know, like an actual computer.

But Apple have tricked us all. Every year they show us consumers the new Macs, iPods and iPhones. They’re never much different and they only have minimal improvements that simply aren’t worth the upgrade at that point. Yet we lap it up. Ooh, the iPhone 4 has a slightly nicer screen? Shut up and take my money Mr.Jobs!

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t just stop buying new technology. Of course technology is constantly evolving and we reach points where we move so far forward that an upgrade is simply required. My problem comes from people who are perfectly willing to waste their disposable cash on the latest upgrades. They don’t need it, but they are fooled by Apple’s and other companies’ excellent PR teams into thinking so, who claim that it is something that they need in their lives. Buy this 3DTV because it’s currently a money making gimmick at the cinema and your HDTV isn’t already giving you the best viewing experience! Buy this new iteration of a console one year after we released the original because it’s slightly lighter! Buy, buy, buy!

So enjoy that iPad 2 while it lasts, as no doubt next year you’ll be buying the new iteration for another $500 because it has a button on it that makes it do a farting noise.

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