First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The October 22 (2013) Apple Event was not up to their usual standard. They rushed through a lot of announcements, because they had a lot to cover (as their invitation to the event said). There were parts of it that were just plain bad. I am, of course, referring to the “Eddie Cue Demo”. The actual technical part of the presentation was actually pretty good and, I think, a key part of their future vision and strategy, but using an Apple SVP as the subject of the demo seemed completely wrong. It was forced, and not really funny. Almost anything would have made for a better demo. For example, demonstrating collaboration on a yard sale flyer, or a school newsletter. That said, there was lots of great announcements as well.
Saying that this event was evidence that Apple is lacking a vision for the iPad, is missing the forest for the trees. What stood out to me was that Apple wasn’t ready to show off its complete vision for the iPad. The “Eddy Cue Demo” should have been done with an iPad on one side and a Mac on the other. I bet Apple really wanted to to that, but as with everything else in product development, they couldn’t get it all done in time for this event. That’s what I mean when I say that iPad (including its software, services, and even the vision for it), is still under development.
Then there was the Life on iPad video that shows how iPad is being used in the real world today. One of the points of the video, and part of the vision for the iPad, I think, is that its use cases are not yet fully defined. It’s a work in progress. The iPad Air video talks about a product “that’s meant to be taken places, handled, and really used”. That statement, to me, is part of a greater vision. Apple does not believe that they have the ultimate answer to what the iPad can be, but that they are enabling a new generation of applications by providing the best hardware and software possible. They want the iPad everywhere, and they want it to be the centre of learning, collaboration, creativity, and entertainment. It’s an imperfect and incomplete vision. It’s a work in progress.
Finally, there is the new iPad hardware. iPad Air and iPad mini are exactly the same hardware with two different screen sizes. That’s a much bigger deal than it appears on the surface. They are both 64-bit devices with an amazing display, and leaps beyond their predecessors. iPad mini gets a massive bump from A5 to A7 and from standard to Retina Display. iPad Air loses a lot of weight and size to become a truly portable device. I am, like many others, having a hard time choosing one. (Although I am leaning towards the iPad Air).
One of the virtues of Apple is that they are patient. While they were not at their best during this event, I think they are feverishly working behind the scenes to complete their work in progress. If I were the force behind the iPad shown in the Life on iPad video, I would have no problem sleeping at night due to a lack of vision.