The new iPad launch event was more or less what everyone expected. The air was so thick with rumors before the launch that almost nothing that was announced managed to surprise anyone. Except that one thing that no one saw coming, and that was a new name. Almost everyone and his dog was betting on the new iPad being called the iPad 3 and as such a lot of people were actually disappointed that it wasn’t called that (never mind the fact that it makes absolutely no different to the product at all).
Even here at GSMArena were were quite baffled initially as to why Apple would choose to name their third generation product same as the first one and, at least as far as the name is concerned, place it behind the second generation model. But after a little bit of pondering, a few explanations started to come to my mind.
If you look at the product names for all Apple products throughout history, they have always had the same name regardless of the changes that were made to the specs every year. The iPod nano has gone through six major changes over the years but it is still called the iPod nano. Same goes for the iMac or the MacBook Pro. The only other Apple product apart from the iPad that had a different name with every successive model was the iPhone.
The problem with this is that every year Apple has to come up with a new name for the iPad, which eventually leads to user confusion because they then have to remember another new name. Also, the idea of adding numbers after the name sounds fun initially, until you reach, say, the iPad 17 and it doesn’t sound so cool any more. So eventually they would have had to drop the number from the name, so why not now?
This sudden change brought about a bit of confusion because the iPad 2 is still on sale but this will only last for a year until next year when there will only be an iPad.
But then what will be the current iPad called when they launch a new one next year? The ‘old new iPad’? As we have seen with the iPhone and unlike, say, the iPod nano or the iMac, Apple actually keeps the previous generation model around next year and sells it at a lower price, so ideally you’d expect them to have different names. But that’s not really necessary.
Remember the iPod touch of the year 2009? There were actually two iPod touches that year, one was the new one with the faster processor and more memory and there was also the previous generation model. Apple cleverly sold the older model only in the 8GB model whereas the new model was sold in more capacious 32GB and 64GB variants.
I believe that is what will happen next year, with the current new iPad being relegated to a smaller capacity and the new one being sold in higher ones. I believe Apple will finally launch a 128GB¹ model of the iPad next year, which is what will be offered with the new, fourth generation model, along with 32GB and 64GB, whereas the current third generation model will be sold only in the 16GB variant. And there will not be any ‘new iPad’ business, either. Apple only uses² the ‘new’ prefix right now because it is also selling the iPad 2 but next year onward it will only be the ‘iPad’.
I also have a feeling we will see this new naming scheme on the iPhone this year. The iPhone suffers from the same problem today with multiple names to remember (keep in mind Apple doesn’t just cater to the geeks who can remember such names but also to ordinary folks who often can’t tell an iPhone from an Android phone, leave alone remember multiple versions of the iPhone). From this year onward, we will just have the iPhone, and it remains to be seen whether they will sell the iPhone 4S separately or as a low-end version called just the iPhone.
All of this fits perfectly with Apple’s penchant for simplifying their products, including their names. I’m sure Apple is kicking itself for straying away from their ‘same product name every year’ strategy (or rather the ‘don’t ever change the damn name’ strategy) and the new iPad is how they intend to correct their mistake. For now this has lead to greater confusion but I believe next year onward things should be back to normal, and by normal I mean the way Apple usually does things.
1 – Considering the growing app sizes due to the Retina display, 128GB will become more of a necessity than a luxury.
2 – The ‘new’ part is not officially part of the name. Officially it is called just the iPad.