iPad Mini or iBook: What's in a Name?
In this post, I am aiming to decipher the probable circumstance of the rumoured "iPad Mini", that is expected to be released in an October event, separate from the iPhone 5 on September 12...
As a self-proclaimed Apple enthusiast and previous user of Microsoft, Google, and third party products and services, I migrated to the Apple ecosystem three years ago. Contrary to popular belief, the "closed" ecosystem-model associated with the Apple brand, is not merely an inescapable walled garden of chained but glamorous goods. As customers, choices will hopefully continue to define the nature of our experiences, and by that metric, any brand or company loyalty should remain grounded. HOWEVER, aggregating and then separating needs and wants are (what I believe) the main steps in the purchase of consumer products, and in that respect, Apple has me covered. And yes, I have used most mobile operating systems, including tablet and phone versions of Windows 7/8, Android versions 2.2 - 4.1, Symbian, Blackberry OS, and iOS. My hands-on experience with tablets include the Blackberry Playbook, iPad, and a slew of Android Tabs. Lastly, my computer experience includes migrating to Mac OS X after over a decade of Windows. Simply put, my love of Apple is not encompassed by the term "it just works", but rather in context, "it just works for ME". Nevertheless, I WILL try to focus the rest of this post on analyzing and evaluating the arguments that could be made for the "iBook". I hope it will spark some thought. But first, I just want to talk a a little bit about the "iPad".
Simply put, my love of Apple is not encompassed by the term "it just works", but rather in context, "it just works for ME".
Why the iPad makes sense:
In 2010, a revolution in portable computing was unveiled. With rumours of a tablet-style device floating in the wild for many months, if not years, Apple finally introduced the iPad in January, to a mixed reception by both critics and customers. It was a unique device that the Cupertino-based company had made to fit in a specialized "comfort zone", wedged between its flagship phone and laptop products. The iPad was originally considered a "luxury" device, with many mocking its limited capabilities and high price. However, some individuals (a few million precisely), did see a potential for changing the landscape of computing devices; Steve Jobs' so-called "Post-PC era". However, the Post-Pc era is not what many think it implies at first; it is not a degradation of the personal computer, but rather an evolution into a time where devices of all shapes and sizes have their place. More of a "Pre-Device" era, it outlines a future where a PC is not the definition of a large, usually unwieldy device that is used for completing a wide variety of tasks. Rather, the iPad has shown that a multitude of activities and yes, even professional undertakings can be dealt with, in a manner different yet appropriate for the times. Doctors, pilots, schools, and many others now use millions of iPads for completing very particular feats, varying across a large spectrum and specific from app-to-app.
The touchscreen interface is different from the traditional method, but not because it can afford to be; it must. A smaller space for interaction combined with a different approach as well, should lead to a different UI, and that is where I believe iOS has agreed upon some very likeable solutions. Multitasking on a device without the proper internal architecture to handle it is one matter, but the intention to want to focus on a device that is almost ALL screen, is another. When Apple unveiled a new category of touchscreen slates, it clearly explained what its intentions were; personal experiences with multimedia were key, but precise actions involved with trackpads and mice were not. Also, although multitasking was later available, it was not unleashed in a form some were hoping for; it would save where you left off, but would not waste valuable screen real-estate for a chance to hinder both processing resources and battery life. It was an explicit statement, and one that customers eventually chose to advocate for. Marketing may have done some of the work, but continuing the momentum through 3 generations must say something; the customers always have a voice.
Why "iBook" makes sense:
The name iPad is almost universal now. There have been over 50 million + sold since the original was announced, and the new iPad aims to polish what Apple originally claimed to do; drive the need away from dedicated computing devices, and move towards unique experiences that wouldn't force the user to adapt, but rather could be used to conform to the user's own circumstances. Three years in, it seems that if a presumed miniature version would appear, its naming scheme would "piggyback" onto the current monicker. However, a different marketing and operational approach could potentially lead to something different, unexpected, and wildly popular.
A smaller iPad, with a 7.85 inch screen and a lower price tag, could help Apple fend off the current batch of Android and Amazon tablets. In its current state though, the "iPad Mini" has not been acknowledged by Apple, nor fully confirmed with respect to specs and alike. However, that also gives us as consumers a chance to look deep into our brains, and extract what could possibly happen. This leads me to a point that I have made, in regards to an aspect that I believe has not been covered to its full potential; could there be a resurgence to the iBook brand?
Well, there appear to be quite a few reasons for Apple to switch to iBook, and one of them regards the rebranding of another Apple-esque product/capability; the iSight camera. From 2003 - 2006, Apple released and updated a webcam, aptly named "iSight". However, the product was discontinued after only 3-short years. After some time, when iOS devices began bearing high-resolution rear-facing shooters, Apple actually revived its old label, and transformed the entire identity of a crucial part of its mobile products. Coincidentally, Apple's line of laptops in the SAME year, were phased out in favour of a new brand as well; the old "iBook" name was replaced by the MacBook line, which (unless you've been living under a rock) is still currently present. Furthermore, with over 6 years separating the term "iBook", it seems that a compelling case could be made for it to return in full force. However, even if the branding doesn't convince, there are other reasons to consider the possibility.
The current iPad has access to three large, and Apple-defined stores; the iTunes Store, the App Store, and lastly, the iBooks Store. With the popularity of reading books on the iPad (along with its many other uses), there has come a time when users have flocked to devices that are cheaper, but still function for many basic tasks. Some products have even been differentiated and marketed towards those users; the Kindle Fire being a popular example, but more so with the Nexus 7 and even newer Kindle devices announced today. However, with its main strengths still being in reading and textual material-consumption, an "iBook" branded Apple device could be a smart move, marketing-wise (the addition of the app store would also elevate it to new heights above the competition). Also, the name "iBook" fits in better with Apple's naming scheme, and also fuels the vision of the aforementioned "Post-PC Era". With the iPod, Apple had many versions that catered to a wide variety of users, but as shown today, only three remain (Although the Classic still fills a niche audience, it seems that that market is shrinking). Finally, with the MacBook air and discontinuation of the old plastic MacBook, the facts seem to strengthen the argument that instead of adding more products to its lines, Apple could try a different approach and instead choose to increase the number of product lines (as done with the original iPad itself). And although there is a very probable chance that their upcoming device will be dubbed the "iPad Mini", there is still a hope that Apple could very well be adding an "iBook" to its own library in the near future.