Apple's iPad Continues to Reign Supreme

By Tony Rizzo, Editor in Chief — March 08, 2012

Let’s begin by noting the one thing Apple didn't do with the "new iPad." It did not increase the available internal memory - the new iPad sports the same old memory configurations of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB that have always been available. This isn't necessarily immediately important, but as users begin to put together and use the many new features - and substantially improved applications - that the new iPad brings to the game, 64GB may begin to prove a barrier for higher end users.
 
As with the iPhone 4S, some pundits have been carping that Apple didn't do enough. On the internal memory front, we totally agree. As to everything else…from our perspective the new iPad is - as Apple puts it - Resolutionary. And more than enough to keep the rest of the tablet world totally off balance.
 
Screen resolution is the place to begin the list of what's new. As has been expected, the new iPad features a retinal display, which means that the pixel density of the new iPad screen is such that the eye simply cannot see the pixels. We know this from the iPhone 4, but the iPad presented a far greater engineering challenge - the immensely larger display of the iPad relative to the iPhone requires not only pixel density, but also requires making the pixels themselves smaller. To do so requires a great deal of technical R&D and pixel display technology improvements. Apple has pulled it off.
 
The new iPad display delivers resolution of 2,048 x 1,536 pixels — that adds up to 3.1 million pixels packed into the iPad's 9.7 inch display. To put this in perspective, most of us believe that the iPad 2's screen is pretty darn good. The new iPad delivers 4X the number of pixels of the iPad 2, along with what Apple claims is a 44 percent increase in color saturation. As one zooms in on an image there is simply no pixelating effect. 
 
It's impossible to really convey the extraordinary level of quality the new iPad's retina display delivers - seeing is the only way of believing. That said, the image below does a pretty good job of at least conveying the difference between the new iPad and the high definition resolution of an HD TV. The new iPad delivers over 1 million more pixels.


A small technical note is in order here: the pixel density of the new iPad is 264 pixels per inch. The iPhone 4S delivers 330 pixels per inch. But as Apple points out, the larger iPad screen is viewed from a distance that is greater (at about 15 inches) than what a typical iPhone is viewed at, and this allows the new iPad to maintain the retina quality.
 
New Graphics Power
 
The retina display would not be all that valuable however if the graphics processing capability of the iPad wasn't able to keep up with the crazy number of pixels now available. That brings us to the next major change the new iPad delivers through its new "quad-core graphics" A5X processor. Again, it is worth noting that some pundits are carping that the new iPad should have an A6 processor. The truth, however, is that it isn't necessary - at least not yet - and leaves Apple well-positioned for future improvements while the rest of the tablet world scrambles to catch up to what the A5X delivers, as shown in the image below (as presented by Phil Schiller, Apple's SVP of Worldwide Marketing).


The nVidia Tegra 3 is touted by the Android community as having the fastest processing capabilities (although last week Huawei offered up what it believes is an even faster processor design). But as shown above, Apple claims to now have a 4X graphical processing advantage over the Tegra 3.

The real answer to whether the A5X holds up to the demands that are placed on it is in the apps - and all of the now classic iPad apps (from both Apple and ISVs) such as GarageBand, iMovie and so on have been updated to take advantage of the retina display and the enhanced capabilities of the A5X. Again, seeing is believing - when the new iPad becomes available on March 16th the best way to get a true sense of the crispness the new processor brings to the game is to go check it out.
 
Finally…LTE
 
There is a new standard number being tossed about in the wireless communications industry - iPads typically consume 300 percent more wireless data than smartphones. Prior to the new iPad all of this wireless data demand has been placed on now creaking 3G networks. As we noted in an earlier article, "How Do You Spell Fabulous? A-P-P-L-E," Apple had to get on the LTE bandwagon, and with the new iPad it has done so. What will this mean for Web surfing and - most importantly - for video streaming? The image below presents a comparative picture - although we need to note that this represents "theoretical maximum downlink performance" across the board that in the real world is never seen. 


LTE will typically deliver about 15 MBPS in download (downlink) speeds and 1.5 MBPS in upload (uplink) speeds. These numbers never-the-less represent huge improvements over 3G. LTE is a critical step forward for Apple, which has been reluctant to get behind LTE because of potential battery issues. Though we won't know until independent parties provide corroboration, Apple claims that it has delivered significant improvements in battery performance to the point where an LTE iPad will deliver 9 hours of usage - which is on a par with the iPad 2. 
 
The new iPad will also be able to function as a hotspot for up to 5 users. The question here is whether or not the carrier a user has a contract with will allow it.
 
The Other New Stuff
 
As was also anticipated, the new iPad comes with what Apple refers to as its iSight camera. This is a 5 MP (Megapixel) camera that is exactly the same as the one found in the iPhone 4S. Along with the new camera the new iPad is now able to grab video in full 1080P.
 
Although Siri was nowhere to be seen, Apple has included a dictation capability. This is particularly useful for composing quick emails and in fact when you are in the email app and have the keyboard on the screen there is a new microphone button - you simply press it, dictate your note and it shows up as text on your email composing screen. As of today's announcement, it will handle a number of different languages including Japanese. We've no doubt Siri will put in an appearance at some future point, but for now you'll need to continue relying on your iPhone 4S to get your Siri fix.
 
As already noted above, all of the classic iPad apps (which - in the case of GarageBand, iMovie, iPhoto and some others - continue to boggle the mind in terms of the amazing functionality you get for all of $4.99 - especially if you are among those of us who routinely shelled out $500 for much less capability) have been updated to take advantage of the retina display and new graphics processing power. One very impressive non-Apple app is Autodesk's Sketchbook Ink.
 
Last, there is a new release of iOS - version 5.1 is now available for download. We won't look at iOS here, but note its availability.
 
What's in a Name?
 
At the beginning of this piece we referred to the new iPad as the "new iPad." Well, that is in fact the name Apple has bestowed on it. There is no iPad 3 (or iPad HD as some have speculated it might be called). Before continuing our thoughts here, check out the following image (presented by Apple CEO Tim Cook):


Those are number of units sold in Q4, 2011. That 15.4 million is one huge number of iPad 2s that were sold. It certainly begins to make the case for a "post PC" world.

In truth, no one really refers to the iPad 2 as the "iPad 2" - the newest version simply becomes the iPad. So it makes a lot of sense to simply call it the new iPad because that is what it becomes. What's interesting is the already huge number of headlines this issue has generated - some call it a major marketing mistake for Apple - some of us think of it as typically smart Apple marketing! 
 
And the Enterprise?
 
There are some interesting issues here. Those very many companies that have already budgeted to bring iPad 2s into their organizations have already budgeted to bring in the new iPad. The new iPad - as the image below shows - brings with it the same Apple pricing schemes it has delivered since the iPad's introduction. 


While the new iPad represents the next level of tablet advancement, the iPad 2 remains a perfect workhorse for most enterprise applications. For a great example, refer to our Eaton Manufacturing field case study in our special report, "Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms." There is no need for a new iPad in Eaton's case - the older tablet will continue to offer the significant capabilities and enhancements that companies require.

The good news is that they can now deploy those iPad 2s at a minimum of $100 less than they originally budgeted for. For enterprises this is a non-trivial price drop that will significantly drive iPads deeper into the enterprise at every level.
 
Meanwhile, we can anticipate the new iPad finding a home in marketing departments, art production departments, and in the executive suite (of course). We can also anticipate it replacing older iPads in image-intensive environments such as in operating rooms - where super hi resolution images are necessary. We do predict that the trickle-down effect across all enterprises will happen relatively quickly - the retina display doesn't only look amazing - it also works towards relieving workforce eye fatigue, something that enterprises will take into consideration as tablets become much more pervasive. 
 
Once again, we can conclude that Apple has delivered. When we look at 2012 tablet sales numbers in early 2013, that is where the real story will emerge. Look for the "new iPad" to once again be front and center in that storyline. It truly has reached iconic name brand status, and it makes every bit of sense to refer to it as the "iPad." And definitely resolutionary.

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