Has Apple lost its mojo???

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Ryan Chapman and I are not only Gadgeteer colleagues but friends as well. We have been karate & tech buddies for years. We have been discussing Apple’s latest generation of iPads for weeks now. After much talk and a bit of debate, we both decided to take the plunge and purchase Apple’s latest tablet, the iPad Air. We will not be getting into the specs or specifics of the latest tablet from Cupertino, but the Air’s release event itself. My comments will be in black and Ryan’s will be in blue.

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Dave: I have been to more than a few Apple product releases. A majority of them have been crazy and quite the event, typically involving long lines and a good deal of excitement. Even though Ryan and I already have iPads, we both wanted to get the iPad Air right out of the gate. So, to ensure us getting our hands on the Air today, we were both up at midnight to purchase the moment they became available online. But we had agreed to choose ‘in store pickup’ vs having to wait for Apple to ship them to us. It was Ryan’s first Apple event so I/we thought it would be fun for us to meet and pick up our iPads at the same time.

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Ryan: I was quite underwhelmed for my first Apple event. I truly thought that a new form factor and 64 bit processor would bring in a large group of excited people. When we got there at 7:00 AM (stores opened @ 8:00), there were three bored security guards and about 20 people in front of us. We stood in line for the experience, but it was very muted and we were guided to a ‘line’ of three people (including Dave and I) for those who preordered online. I joked to the Apple employee that he can brag that he took care of the entire pre-order line by himself!

Dave: Honestly it was the saddest Apple moment I have ever witnessed. Of the 20 people ahead of us, a decent percentage of them were not there to buy an iPad but were hoping to snag an iPhone 5S. The other individual in the pre-order line with us literally bought his iPad on his iPhone while waiting in line thus getting into the shorter line…..pretty smart actually.

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Ryan: While waiting for our iPads to be brought out, we took the chance to really look at the Air. I was amazed at how lightweight it was and it affirmed my choice of the bigger screen. The Mini may be more portable, but I use my iPad at home a lot so the bigger screen was better for me.

Dave: The latest iPad’s weight and form factor are definitely nice without a doubt. I am currently using an iPad Mini and have grown accustomed to its size, weight, and ability to thumb-type on its virtual keyboard. But the screen often feels a bit cramped and unfocused compared to a retina display. I take my iPad with me on travel and most places I go, which makes portability a key element. But I am willing to try the Air’s larger footprint to see if it will work for me. Because the larger screen is gorgeous and more functional as compared to the first generation Mini.

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Ryan: The whole atmosphere was subdued and the tiny crowd didn’t make hardly a peep when waiting. There was no chatter about features (which I thought would happen) or comparing devices. Heck, hardly anyone was on their cellphones even. They were just standing there like zombies, waiting for the opportunity to get their ‘brains’ and head out. Only our fellow pre-order guy talked to us.

Dave: There was zero wait for folks. Once 8:00 rolled around, those already in line took less than 30 minutes to make it inside the door. It took Ryan and I less than 20 minutes to complete our sales. It would have taken half that amount of time if there had not been a minor glitch in our pre-orders.

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Dave: There is much debate and criticism that Apple has lost touch with today’s tablet market. While creating great products, they fail to see that their “Cadillac” pricing needs to be adjusted….that there are products with a much better ‘bang for the buck’. Be that as it may, both Ryan and I are pleased with our first day acquisitions. But if line-length and release day excitement are any indicators of what is ahead for (at least) their flagship tablet, we believe Apple may need rethink their current sales model.

Update 11/05/13

Dave: I did not even last 2 days before I returned my iPad Air. While significantly lighter than previous versions, the Air is just too big. I have become very accustom to my iPad Mini’s size, form factor and function. The Air felt very cumbersome, like growing 6 inches over the Summer as a teenager.

Ryan: I on the other hand am fully enjoying my iPad Air. I just can’t get over how light it is compared to my old iPad. I definitely notice a difference in speed as well. I think that since Dave came from the already extremely lightweight mini to the Air, that his views are much different. If I had chosen to get the Mini instead I think I would go back to the bigger version because I really enjoy the extra screen size.

If this year showed the lost mojo with such a significant upgrade, I feel next year will be even worse. There has to be a point where the upgrades are not significant enough to justify the premium price tag. This year, the Air is worth it in my opinion, but adding more RAM or a fingerprint reader isn’t going to justify the cost.

Dave: Bottom line is that I will be going through this process again before the end of this month. Perhaps to more excitement, energy and fanfare than the Air. I know most of you have probably read the rumors that the retina display iPad Mini maybe (initially) difficult to get ahold of. If true, I hope to be one of the fortunate ones. The question is: will Apple allow folks to choose in store pick-up like they did for the Air or will they be going for the frenzy of it all.

Posted in: Articles, iPhone, iPad, iPod

20 comments… add one

  • BJ Nicholls November 1, 2013, 5:40 pm

    The answer is “yes”. From plastic bodied phones that look like poor imitations of Nokia, to gold bling kitsch, to the new “flat” look IOS with truly ugly icons, Apple is not only just offering incremental products – it has perverted the product design focus that has made it’s products so appealing. I just bought a refurb iPad 4 because I need it to run a new client’s apps. I have a first generation iPad and a Nexus 7. Frankly, while the Retina display is nice, it’s not the big deal it has been made out to be. On a full size iPad, it’s really just a bump in detail and clarity. The high resolution makes far more sense on smaller devices where you’re looking more closely at a smaller screen. There are scant IOS features that I prefer over my android tablet, and I hate that Apple is too stingy to let us customize the iPad for the two of us who will use it.

  • Jane P. November 1, 2013, 6:16 pm

    Well, I’ve been waiting for this upgrade for a couple of years. I have an iPad2 which I plan to trade in for the “Air”. I am disappointed that it does not include the fingerprint id thingy (so is every other analyst), but I’ve been longing for a much lighter tablet with the Retina display with no battery loss. So this is a good upgrade for me.

    I am looking forward to your impressions/reviews of you new iPads once you have a chance to play with them at home. Dave I’d be especially interested in how you like your new Air compared to you iPad mini.

    I do own an iPod Touch 4th generation which needs to be replaced (battery problems, and the earphone jack no longer works). The fact that the newest iOS no longer supports the 4th generation Touch products seals the deal. I was limping along through the October Apple events, hoping that there would be a Touch 6th generation product. But no go. So I’ll be spending some money this weekend. Sorry friends and family: a little less dough to spend on Xmass gifts for you all.

    I am worried about Apple minus Steve Jobs. Don’t know if they have folks with the combo business sense and marketing intuition to set that perfect price point for their products. Very disappointed with the price increases for the new iPads and iPad minis.

    Yes you can get Android stuff for less – and it is worthwhile purchase for a great many people. But for the discerning few who are willing to pay more for Apple … Steve seemed to understand “how much” more.

    Time will tell if Apple still has some mojo. But it’s upgrade time for this Apple fangirl.

    Dave, Ryan – use your new iPad Airs in the best of heath!

  • Ken November 2, 2013, 2:07 am

    Walked right into BestBuy and picked up An iPad Air, no waiting. I am a long time Android Nexus user. Weight and speed grabbed my attention. iOS is a culture shock. Undecided on how practical and easy to do things, book marking in Safari is mind boggling. Garage Band took an enormous amount of space. I really should have read more before buying this thing, my Nexus had been functioning well. I always liked my Apple TV and a Steve Jobs unveiling was never missed, but yea I agree the mojo is lacking somewhat. Didn’t even see the Apple event this time and bought blindly.

  • Xfader November 2, 2013, 9:23 am

    I was more disappointed in the iPad mini 2.
    I would want it more if it had Touch ID,but for $399 it’s too pricey.
    PS.Apple,why are you still selling the iPad 2?If you don’t want the Air,get a refurbished iPad 4,for less than a 2.Even more the iPad 2 has a 30-pin port.

  • Jane P. November 3, 2013, 2:57 pm

    @Ken how much space did you get? I personally would not have less than 64GB. This does allow for lots of APPs and photos, plus my music library, and space to spare. 32GB simply does not do it for me, and 16 GB is a joke.

    With Best Buy, you can return your new iPad and get one with more space. But if you really do not like it at all, you can get your money back. I doubt they will charge a restocking fee like Apple.

    FYI, Walter Mossberg just published a review on the iPad Air, and he thinks it’s the best Tablet out there. His only complaint is the missing Touch ID-and the price.

    @Xfader. I agree! I think they made a big mistake raising the price for the mini.

    I use my iPad 2 for work – I do a lot of spreadsheets and documents with the PDF apps. So, I really need the larger screen. If I were an artist, I’d probably require the full iPad screen over the mini’s.

    However, if I did not have the business usage or wasn’t an artist, I’d seriously consider an iPad mini. That screen seems sufficient for games, reading, and most of the APPS. I know I prefer my Kindle over the iPad when reading novels.

  • Ryan Chapman November 3, 2013, 6:05 pm

    I am happy so far with my Air. I feel no need for a fingerprint sensor on the iPad since I will use the auto wake feature when using a smart cover.

    I got a 32 GB Air (I had 16 GB with my 3rd gen iPad) and am happy with the storage. I tend to be someone who plans what I want to watch so I will remove and add videos as I see fit, and many of my apps aren’t huge. I feel that by the time I need to fill up 32 GB, I will be 3-4 years down the road and debating whether to buy the newest iPad then. :)

  • Joe November 3, 2013, 8:37 pm

    My gripe with ios7 is zoom in and out app UI. I tried my friend’s IPAD and Iphone5s and ended up with headache and strain of my eyes…..I am holding off until this can be turned off. I was waiting for retina display mini pad but price point is not worth it to me….
    I may just get previous version minipad…w/o ios update. poor me….:(

  • 1000Acres November 4, 2013, 2:26 am

    The Mojo is lost. I have an iPad Mini that I like and was looking forward to some kind of WOW factor from the iPad Air. No Wow for me. I was hoping for the ability to do Flash, since it is required for so many videos and now even Dropcam. Very disappointed.

  • Mark November 4, 2013, 8:33 am

    Best, fastest tablet on the market. How’s that for wow factor? What seems to be the problem? No free smart watch with the purchase poor me!

  • Albo November 4, 2013, 11:44 am

    You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…oh-oh-oh ooo…that lovin’ feelin’..

    Just switch back to Android from a long line of iOS devices. I actually got some really good deal on a refurbished Galaxy Note II and a 1st Generation Nexus 7.

    Comparing my previous iPad 4 (64gb Verizon 4G) to the Nexus 7 (32gb) was a bit of a surprise, actually. The N7 does almost everything the iPad did MUCH faster. The screen is quite sharp, though not as pixel-dense as the iPad, but watching movies on it was still a pleasurable experience.

    Most of the work that I do on a tablet platform has been artwork and writing (I usually write blog posts and work on other projects whilst on break at work), so portability became paramount. The iPad w/ ZAGG case/keyboard loses hands down to the N7 with a Minisuit case.

    Lastly…value. I bought the N7, manufacturer refurb’d, for $145 vs the insane amount that Apple charges for their offerings. I’m going to be selling the 64gb iPad 4 soon, which will be great because I spent $20 on raffle tickets to win it!

  • Pam T. November 4, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Do you think, though, that we’ve become a little bit too greedy when it comes to technology upgrades. In the last five years we’ve seen tablets take off, and now we’re not happy because the manufacturers haven’t managed to knock our socks off with each new version.

    No tech manufacturer out there is bringing out huge changes to their product line, so why do we expect Apple to do it every six months?

    On the opposite side of that fence, Apple and other manufacturers need to understand that unless it does wow the consumer, we have no real reason to upgrade their products to newer versions, hence the flatter sales noticed.

    Dunno, just my two cents worth.

  • Jane P. November 4, 2013, 2:57 pm

    @Pam T. I think that we are becoming both greedy and unrealistic. If you think about it, the Tablets have evolved to a point that you really can’t expect more than incremental improvements. But these improvements will require lighter and stronger materials; improved battery technology; faster and more [energy] efficient chips.

    For all of us non-billionaires, the decision to upgrade should be based on the improvements you are seeing over your current device. I’m always thinking that I’ll need what is being offered 2-3 years down the pike. Apple’s refreshes usually involves improved cameras and screen quality. I personally am additionally looking for significant decreases in weight with no loss to battery life. I was very disappointed that the iPad 4 required increased weight to delivery the retina display and maintain battery life. So, I opted to purchase an iPad 2 and wait another 18 months for … the iPad Air.

    The true value of all these devices rests in the APPS and how they can sync with your computer, other mobile devices and third party hardware (keyboard, apple TV, audio equipment). I want technology which will support increasingly sophisticated APPS and content – which is pretty much what we are seeing.

    As someone who has always owned an Apple computer, I find that after “X” number of years, the computer can no longer support the newest applications. When that happens, I usually am forced to upgrade my computer. The same thing is happening with the mobile devices. Since the latest iOS upgrade no longer supports my iPad Touch 4th generation – it’s time to upgrade to 5th generation product. I hate when that happens – but it is an inevitable by product of technological growth.

  • Dan McNutt November 4, 2013, 4:23 pm

    I think Pam T. has a great point. We are always looking for these new tech products to knock us out. Apple hasn’t lost it’s mojo, we’ve become a society that values innovation less and less. We are critical of everything now and have short memories of how far things advanced in the past decade. Example online comment: “Great tablet, but I won’t buy another tablet without 2GB minimum, nice try Apple, so close.” Really?

    Anyway, I’m not an Apple apologist, this is just what I’ve noticed whether it’s the new Kindle or the Smartwatch Samsung has announced. Heck we shamed Google into shelving their Nexus Q product because it didn’t meet the collective standards the internet at large decide it should have met. Apple doesn’t follow the hive mind and that’s why some people are driven crazy by them. Will they create yet another category (maybe better term “redefine” a category) like they have with the iPod, iPhone, iPad? That remains to be seen, but people have bet against them before and lost (Big, look at Palm and Blackberry). Who knows?

  • Pam T. November 4, 2013, 5:44 pm

    @JaneP said: ” I think that we are becoming both greedy and unrealistic. If you think about it, the Tablets have evolved to a point that you really can’t expect more than incremental improvements.”

    EXACTLY! And yet, the blogosphere makes its collective disgruntlement known (loudly) when we only see a faster chip or lighter materials or a denser pixel rate (or all three) because it’s not enough to satisfy our insatiable want for more, more, more.

    I love my technology and gadgets with the best of you, but there’s only so much of it I can use at a given time. :)

  • Byron November 4, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Walked right into SAMs club and they had all sizes, both colors.

    Picked up a Air 32 for my wife and a Mini 64 for me at 70.00 off regular price.

    very nice, now I need a case for the Air

  • Tech November 4, 2013, 11:11 pm

    I would add to the above that, frankly, Apple has brought this on themselves. The Air is incremental improvement…but Ive and Cook make every little tweak sound like the second coming.
    I think that people’s disappointment is due to massive disconnect between Apple Reality, and actual Reality.
    While I have an iPad 2, I recently bought a Hisense Sero7 Pro tablet….$149 at walmart…comes with gps and NFC…and has Jelly Bean…it does everything I need it to do…including watching Luther from Chicago to LAX.

  • Xfader November 5, 2013, 7:48 am

    @Pam T I agree,not just for tablets,but for smart phones to.Apple hasn’t lost it’s mojo.

  • Pam T. November 5, 2013, 8:49 am

    @Xfader: Great point! I haven’t felt the need to change phones in forever (ok, 2 years, which is forever in tech terms). I think @JaneP said it best – upgrades tend to come along when something I use the most isn’t supported by the OS anymore. (Or I need more GB!)

  • Rainydayinterns November 6, 2013, 11:36 am

    Most people never come close to utilizing their devices full capabilities. We are using a 2008 MacBook Pro for iPhone/iPad development and it runs Xcode just fine. Hook to it a 21″ Cinema Display and we have a dual screen workstation that cost $600 to setup….so we when do we upgrade?

    We do it when Apple stop supporting the hardware… PowerPC to Intel CPU, OS 9 to OSX, etc. Picking up discontinued, but still supported Apple hardware is about the best way to get the most bang for the buck!!!

  • Xfader November 10, 2013, 10:33 am

    @Rainydayinterns I have a G4 Cube,with a Intel Haswell chip,at 2.8 GHz.It’s got WiFi,and a 1GB Ethernet.It runs OS X 10.9 like a champ.

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