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:
Wow why is there an iPad 4 already I can't even breathe without all my stuff becoming old— Jake(@l00kitsjake) October 23, 2012
@SteveStreza, meanwhile, makes a sharp observation:
"Just half a year ago we made you buy the 3rd gen iPad. And today we're going to piss you off with the 4th gen iPad. You'll still buy it."— Steve Streza (@SteveStreza) October 23, 2012
@sharonvak compares the pain to what Android users have had to endure:
Now iPad 3 owners know how every single Android owner feels. Frequent hardware refreshes are a double-edged sword.— Sharon Vaknin (@sharonvak) October 23, 2012
And @thomleonard is probably worse off than anyone else:
Frustrated ipad3 replaced so quickly with iPad 4. Just got 64gb cell version two weeks ago.— Thom Leonard (@thomleonard) October 23, 2012
Perhaps he'll have some luck getting his iPad exchanged.
CNET's Donna Tam contributed to this story.