The iPad 2: Does Apple Make Mistakes?

Following the international release of the iPad 2 it’s worth giving a thought to the continued ability of Apple to develop and market incredibly successful products. Can the iPad 2 possibly fail?

The release of the first iPad, way back in April 2010, was met by dissenting voices in the technology community. From people heralding it as a marvellous technological breakthrough, to asking serious questions over its purpose. Where does it fit in? Do people need it?

In spite of the initial qualms and speculation over the iPad, Apple was fully prepared to back its new invention and follow its well proven, tried and tested, roadmap for success. Apple would immediately get back to working on the next iteration, the purification of its new technology.

Refined Not Redefined

In the iPad, Apple knew it had something special. Even revolutionary.

Having said that, I don’t believe that a year ago Apple knew exactly what it was it had created and unleashed; it believed in the design and power of the iPad but couldn’t fully grasp its true purpose, its modus operandi.

A good degree of effort was put into convincing people of the broad scope and usefulness of the iPad. It was shown how the iPad could handle various work related tasks, from extended writing through to tackling spreadsheets. While it does all of these things honourably, in reality it wasn’t its work related usefulness that made the iPad a success – whether or not people used those capabilities to justify a purchase. It was how you felt when you picked it up and played with it, how purely immersive it was, and how natural this unique device was in your hands. It was enchanting.

With the iPad 2, Apple hasn’t changed its mind or drastically redefined what the iPad is. It’s simply learned from its experiences so far with its new creation and worked hard to refine it.

Do It Right

Some of the refinements are purely practical in nature. The Smart Cover, for example, directly addresses the questions surrounding applied use of the iPad. It integrates seamlessly with the iPad and avoids distracting from (or abusing) its aesthetic beauty, while simultaneously protecting the screen and folding into a stand that makes everything that much easier, from watching films to typing.

Other refinements are aesthetic. The iPad is most at home when being held by its user, making it thinner and lighter was a no brainer! Last but not least are the technical refinements, the cameras, the A5 chip, and the increase in RAM to name just three (four if you count both cameras).

A key element in Apple’s design philosophy is that you should do it right, or not at all. This applies to products just as much as it applies to functionality. Apple doesn’t just chance upon great products and the ensuing success, it has built up an overarching company philosophy that centres on the end user and getting things right. This costs Apple something. It can often mean leaving out certain features or functionality that, while they may shift more units, Apple can’t yet get to work how it would like (something that was definitely the case with the original iPhone).

More Than Success?

What Apple has done with the iPad 2 is continue its commitment to a design philosophy that has seen the company expand and grow at an almost unprecedented pace.

Lets think about this for a moment: Sales of the iPad 2 in the US hit more than 300,000 on the first day. There were massive queues all across the country, and they ran out of units. Whether those things were intentional (Apple surely had an idea about the demand there would be) or not (there’s a finite limit to how many iPads can be made in a day), the iPad 2 is already another success story.

What is clear, however, is that the iPad means more to Apple than the sum of its commercial success. I believe that with the iPad 2 Apple is one step closer to knowing exactly what it has in the iPad. Another chapter is being written, and we are moving ever closer to the immersive future of personal computing.

Is the iPad 2 another confident step into a brave new world? Is Apple destined to continue being a major force in defining the future of the technological landscape? Does Apple make mistakes?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and responses to the launch of the iPad 2 and the questions posited here!