TOY MAKER TO THE WELL-HEELED Apple surprised just about everyone Wedneday by naming its latest Ipad, the third model in its line of shiny drinks trays, not 'Ipad 3' or 'Ipad HD' as had been widely anticipated, but just 'new Ipad'.
When asked about this by Miguel Helft of Forbes magazine, Apple's chief of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller responded with a throwaway line in reply.
I asked Phil Schiller why the name "new iPad" (and not iPad3, iPadHD). Answer: we don't like to be predictable.— mhelft (@mhelft) March 7, 2012
Aside from the observations that this won't be the 'new Ipad' for long and won't be the last 'new Ipad' unless Apple stops developing and releasing newer models as time goes on - a prospect that is inconceivable for the device responsible for about half of the revenues of the most highly valued company in the world by market capitalisation - this is, to say the least and being polite about it, an unfortunate, even arrogant choice by Apple's top executives.
This will lead to lots of persistent confusion among the Apple faithful and detract from maintaining the Cupertino company's history of keeping its besotted fans who have more money than sense on the treadmill of upgrading to the latest Apple device every time it releases a new one.
It's arrogant because it shows that Apple doesn't care a bit whether or not it confuses its punters and the buying public at large. For Apple, its pride in its image as being too cool for its customers apparently is more important than communicating with them clearly and unambiguously. This naming of the third Apple tablet as just the 'new Ipad' exposes its arrogance.
This choice of name ignores the fact that there is already an Apple tablet that is called the Ipad, the first one it released a couple of years ago, and there are still many of those in the hands of Apple's customers. Thus the time wasting confusion that will arise in many situations, not to mention in the minds of potential tablet buyers.
Just imagine for a moment the millions of conversational exchanges that will happen in the native habitats of the Apple faithful all over the world, the potted fern festooned and so tastefully decorated, trendy coffee shops that shamelessly peddle overpriced lattes and GMO-laced sweets, you know the places I'm talking about.
Sweet young lonely potential hookup (SYLPH): "Oh, nice tablet! Is that an Ipad?"
Turtleneck wearing internet surfing twit (TWIST): "Why yes it is. Haven't you seen one?"
SYLPH: "Oh yes, my ex-boyfriend had one years ago, but he never let me use it."
TWIST: "That was the old one. This is the new Ipad."
SYLPH: "That was called the Ipad too. Is yours a newer model?"
TWIST: "Yes, this is the latest one. It's called just the Ipad."
SYLPH: "Oh, I see. So was my ex-boyfriend's. [suspicious] Are you sure this is a new one?"
As you can imagine, this sort of thing isn't going to be helping any Apple fanbois hook up.
I think what will happen is that people will call this the 'Ipad 3', no matter what Apple calls it, if only to avoid this kind of confusion. In that case, Apple will lose control of the product name of its fancy media player. That won't be good for its long term marketing, since that development will damage the continuity of the brand.
Of course, Apple could simply keep selling this model Ipad for years, but in that case it will lose the incremental additional revenue that it gets now from the annual turnover of its fanbase onto ever newer models. But it could do that, and come out with a line of overpriced add-on products and accessories to keep its Apple Store cash registers ringing - perhaps a keyboard and mouse docking station, maybe an add-on power slab or a larger desktop display. But I doubt it'll do that.
Instead, of course Apple will come out with another Ipad model next year or thereabouts. And then it is most likely going to have to face the necessity to call that something else. The 'newer Ipad', followed by the 'newest Ipad, and then the 'even newer Ipad' and so on.
Steve Jobs would never have painted himself into this corner. He was much smarter than this. µ