Apple's Latest Moves Get Mixed Reviews, Missing 'Wow' Factor
As its announcements generally do, Apple's Oct. 16th introduction of a handful of new products has drawn strong responses. This time they were mostly skeptical. At the event held at its California headquarters, the tech giant introduced three new products: the Apple iPad Air 2 (shown above), iPad Mini 3, and iMac Retina 5K.
Analysts were generally not optimistic about the chances for the new offerings, with most of the brickbats being aimed at the new iPads. Ken Odeluga, a tech market analyst with UK-based brokerage City Index, told us that beyond cosmetic considerations, there didn't seem to be much to get excited over.
"Hardware-wise, the new iPads are as slick and cool-looking as one would expect from Apple," Odeluga said. "The user interface is smooth and attractive, too. But is there an extra 'wow' factor over and above the high standards ordinarily expected from Apple? That's unlikely."
On the Plus Side
The iPad Air 2 is the sixth iPad to be launched since 2010, and it contains a specially created A8X chip to deliver 40 percent faster performance. It will also support an 8-megapixel iSight camera and 1.12 micron pixels, with battery life now lasting up to 10 hours.
Features of the iPad Mini 3 include 1080p video capture, a 5-megapixel iSight Camera, and HD Facetime camera. Both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3 will be available for pre-ordering Oct. 17. Starting at $399 for 16 GB and ranging up to $599 for 128 GB, the iPad Mini 3 will run on iOS 8.1 and features a Retina Display. It also retains the A7 processor of the previous Mini.
Meanwhile, the new iMac with Retina display is the first desktop computer with 5K resolution. With a 27-inch screen and 5K display with 14.7 million pixels, the new Retina Display iMac is being described as the "world's highest resolution display." It will be priced starting at $2,499, and features a 3.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (it can be upgraded to 4.0 GHz) and 8 GB of RAM. Both the iMac and a new Mac Mini are now available.
One voice of positivity came from Forbes' Mark Rogowsky, who praised the wide range of retail prices that now exist for iPads, which stretch from $829 all the way down to $249.
"Apple's iPads are now an easier sell than ever," Rogowsky wrote. "Like the Toyota dealer who can put you into everything from a Yaris to a Lexus sedan at the sister dealership across the street, Apple has you covered -- unless what you're after is a bargain tablet."
Missing the Wow
While the new iPad Air 2 is 18 percent thinner (at 6.1mm) and includes a more powerful processor and graphics engine than the last version, along with a fingerprint sensor for Touch ID, that still wasn't enough to sway many observers.
"There's nothing revolutionary to get existing owners to turn up and buy again," said CNET's Jason Jenkins.
The New York Times' Farhad Manjoo suggested that with all the phone and laptop options available (including the relatively large iPhone 6 plus), there might no longer be a real need for the iPad.
Odeluga also expressed disappointment at the suggestion by Apple that it was unable at this time to release a larger, 12.9-inch iPad with a high-resolution display. Apparently, production did not start this year as planned due to the unexpectedly high volume of demand for new iPhones which were announced in September.
We asked Odeluga whether the new iPads, combined with new online services, will be enough to restore Apple's tablet performance. He said probably not, and noted that the market didn't believe so, either, given the lackluster trading of Apple shares after the event.
"iPads have been a problem child for [Apple] for some time," Odeluga said. "With a second straight quarter of falling iPad sales, [that brings] the number of quarters in which sales of Apple's hand-held computers have fallen to four out of five."
OS Updates and Apple Pay
Aside from debuting those new devices, Apple also used the Oct. 16 event to announce that its new mobile payment service known as Apple Pay will be launching on Oct. 20. The new OSX Yosemite operating system as well as iOS 8.1, the latest update of Apple's mobile operating system, are also scheduled to become available that day.
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering, boasted that OS X Yosemite will usher in "the future of computing, where your Apple devices all work together seamlessly and magically."
With regard to progress for Apple Pay, Eddy Cue, senior VP of Internet Software and Services, said the company is continuing to add more banks, credit card companies and merchants that will support the new mobile payment service.
Still, despite the relatively long list of technological advances and progress, Odeluga said that, Thursday's event "won't be remembered as Apple's punchiest."
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Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 3:59pm PT
Yawn and yawn... Oh, the lambs will line up for this slop like they do for all the rest of the crap Apple shoves there way. You can't help the helpless...
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 2:01pm PT
Yawn! More copying from Apple, albeit later than usual. The question is, "How long does Tim Cook have left at Apple?"
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 10:48am PT
Apple Pay—the greatest media/marketing beat up yet of the 21st century! Too bad all that hot air will soon enough cool …
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 8:47am PT
Getting things done would be fun: Apple Pay, Continuity, calling on the Mac, or iPad.
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 5:45am PT
No real need for the iPad? That's what clueless pundits have been saying ever since it was launched.
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 2:12am PT
I'm not even a Mac or iOS user but I kind of agree with what Frank wrote. Faster processors and longer battery life are actually exciting features for real users.
Posted: 2014-10-18 @ 1:01am PT
For any other company the products would have produced that "wow" factor. But some of the media has expected so much from Apple that even really impressive products, like a flexible sim card, produces a headline about how boring the announcement is.