To Apple: thanks for making my 'new iPad' obsolete

Apple, I thought we had a deal.

The fourth-generation iPad. Looks a lot like the previous version, except for some critical upgrades inside.
(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

I buy one of your products, and I'm guaranteed roughly a year of feeling like I've got the latest and greatest that Apple has to offer. That's primarily been your product cycle, and it's worked out fairly well for everyone.

Which is why I'm shocked, and more than a little annoyed, to see a new iPad unveiled only a half a year after I bought the "new iPad".

Philip Schiller, head of marketing for Apple, made a crack about how a new product instantly makes the previous one look old. Sure, that joke works fine when debuting a new iMac — which hasn't seen a refresh in nearly a year and a half — but it's less funny when you apply that to the 7-month-old iPad.

It's not like the improvements are that incremental. The fourth-generation iPad comes with a new A6X processor, which doubles the CPU and graphics power of the A5X chip used in the last iPad. It also gets 10 hours of battery life, FaceTime HD and expanded LTE support. You can keep the Lightning dock connector.

The confusing thing is that the third-generation iPad appears to have disappeared from the Apple store. There's the newly unveiled iPad Mini, the lower priced iPad 2 and now, the fourth-generation iPad.

Did Apple just disavow the third-generation iPad like an IMF agent on a Mission:Impossible sortie gone bad? And what does that mean for the folks who actually bought the old "new" iPad? I have to imagine that there were a lot of us; Apple CEO Tim Cook said it was the fastest-selling iPad and best-selling tablet.

Look, I'm not against the evolution of any product. But I'd appreciate it if you let consumers catch their breath before moving on to the "next big thing". (Or is that Samsung's tagline now?) I imagine other Apple fans and iPad owners share my sentiment and frustration.

More troubling, what does the debut of the fourth-generation iPad now mean for the fifth-generation iPad next year? Can we still expect another iPad in March, or has the product cycle shifted to a launch in October?

Further down the line, does this open the door to more upgrades each year? The Android community already has to deal with a ceaseless wave of new mobile gadgets, and that isn't the sort of thing Apple should be aspiring to emulate.

At least one Apple store in San Francisco, California, apparently feels the pain, and is offering to exchange iPads for anyone who has purchased a third-generation iPad in the last 30 days, according to CNET editor Sharon Vaknin.

I'm not the only one annoyed by this development:

@SteveStreza, meanwhile, makes a sharp observation:

@sharonvak compares the pain to what Android users have had to endure:

And @thomleonard is probably worse off than anyone else:

Perhaps he'll have some luck getting his iPad exchanged.

CNET's Donna Tam contributed to this story.


Add Your Comment 7

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DaisyW posted a comment   

Are there any currently available accessories (such as speaker docks) that work with the Lightning Connector at all?


Pastryboy posted a comment   

Oh dear, Poor Roger. So what you're saying is you have to have the latest version of something to enjoy it? Why? So you can show off to everyone else? You've just spent 450 words explaining exactly how shallow you are. Also has it actually been released yet? We've just been given a preview.


Dman777 posted a comment   

Cry me a river. Does your current iPad still do everything it needs to? Has the release of the iPad 4 suddenly made your current iPad perform any worse? No? Then it's not obsolete. Time to get off the upgrade treadmill, just because a new product comes out doesn't mean that what you have now is worthless.


ras0406 posted a comment   

HTC has just done the same thing with the One X . I guess it's the downside of living in a time of extreme technological advancement.

Perhaps carriers should think about changing the length of their contracts to better reflect the product cycle these days? Telstra's 24 month contracts may have worked a decade ago when new product launches were irregular. But in today's world of 12-month and now 6-month product cycles, 24 month contracts don't make sense.

I feel for you.


lalex81 posted a comment   

I think this speaks more of the consumers than of Apple. The company obviously wants to give their tablets the best odds against Windows8 tablets, their decision is logical and well thought.

Is it logical and well thought for consumers who bought an iPad 3 to suffer because now their tablet is old and they will need to buy the iPad 4?


StuartG1 posted a comment   

The only reasons my friends were stubborn enough to resist my push for a move to android were the dock connector and a reliable product life cycle that didn't leave there devices feeling old the day after purchase. Congratulations Apple, you're losing customers.


EricJ posted a comment   

Philip Schiller, head of marketing for Apple, made a crack about how a new product instantly makes the previous one look old.

Funny considering they look EXACTLY the same

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