Before Apple unveiled the new iPad today, Yglesias asked a few questions over at Slate. The third of them was: “Will reviewers underestimate the value of incremental change?”
And my answer is that, yes, they always do. As Yglesias writes: “The iPhone 4S was roundly panned on its release, since it was “only” an iPhone 4 box with a faster chip and a better camera and upgraded software. And yet it turned out that a better version of an already successful product was a recipe for … a huge sales success!” This is exactly right. The people who review new Apple products tend to be tech-inclined people who already own all the previous products, anyway. And for them the key question is whether the new product is worth shelling out another few hundred dollars for the incremental improvements. But that’s not why so many people buy these new products.
Take me, for example. I had no smart phone, but had been considering getting one. I had eyed the iPhone 4 for a while, and had slowly convinced myself that it was worth getting. Then, the iPhone 4S came out. And all of the sudden, I could get a new iPhone with a faster chip, better camera, Siri, and all for the same price I had nearly already convinced myself to pay for the old one. All of the sudden, it felt like a no-brainer.
I predict a similar huge success for Apple with the new iPad. The early reviews sound similar to the disappointment that greeted the new iPhone. But this new iPad isn’t for them. It’s for the people who were on the verge of spending $500 for an iPad 2. Now all of the sudden they can spend the same amount of money for an iPad with way better resolution, a faster chip, and a better camera. I never worshiped at the temple of Jobs, but Apple is damn good at this stuff.