The Never-Changing iPad Proposition

The new iPad is still just an iPad. And for now, at least, that’s the point.

KIMBERLY WHITE / Reuters

It’s January 27th, 2010, and Steve Jobs has just left the stage where he announced the iPad. It seems kinda cool, but you’re not sure if you should buy one. You take a moment to consider the iPad Proposition.

The iPad 1 is:
-About as big as a magazine
-A bit heavy
-Nice for reading, but not quite as nice as a Kindle
-Pretty good for games
-A convenient video player
-A nice thing to bring on a trip, if you get the one with the cell plan
-At least $500

The iPad 1 is not:

-Very good for making stuff
-Essential

It’s January 27th, 2010, and this is the iPad Proposition. You either buy one or you don’t. You probably don’t. If you do, however, chances are you don’t regret it. You come to understand the thing about tablets.

***

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

It’s March 2nd, 2011, and Steve Jobs has just left the stage where he announced the iPad 2. It seems kinda cool—a lot like the last one, but with pair of cameras. But you’re still not sure if you should buy one. You take a moment to consider the iPad 2 proposition.

The iPad 2 is:

-About as big as a magazine
-A bit heavy
-An awesome browsing device
-Nice for reading, harder on the eyes than a Kindle
-Pretty good for games
-A convenient video player
-A nice thing to bring on a trip, if you get the one with the cell plan
-A cool video chatting device
-At least $500

The iPad 2 is not:

-Very good for making stuff
-Essential

It’s March 2nd, 2011, and this is the iPad 2 proposition. You either buy one or you don’t. You probably don’t. If you do, however, chances are you don’t regret it. You come to understand the thing about tablets.

***

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

It’s March 7th 2012, and Tim Cook has just left the stage where he announced the next iPad. It seems kinda cool—a lot like the last two, but with a sharper screen and faster wireless. But you’re still not sure if you should buy one. You take a moment to consider the New iPad proposition.

The new iPad is:

-About as big as a magazine
-A bit heavy
-An awesome browsing device
-Nice for reading, but not quite as nice as a Kindle
-Pretty good for games
-A convenient video player
-A nice thing to bring on a trip, if you get the one with the cell plan
-A cool video chatting device
-At least $500

The new iPad is not:

-Very good for making stuff
-Essential

It’s March 2nd, 2011, and this is the New iPad Proposition. You either buy one or you don’t. You probably don’t. If you do, however, chances are you don’t regret it. You come to understand the thing about tablets.

***

The iPad may change every year, but the proposition is still the same. If you didn’t need one before then you probably don’t need one now, not that the iPad is the kind of object that anyone—with a few unusual exceptions—really needs.

Apple’s updates to the iPad haven’t been intended to change the proposition; they’ve been about maintaining it in the face of competition. Well, maybe not competition. Let’s go with “expectations.”

There may come a day when Apple changes the iPad Proposition; when it becomes unbelievably light or lasts twice as long or, whether as the result of better apps or accessories or some fundamental chance, becomes better than our laptops at creating stuff, and that will be the day that the laptop truly and finally becomes irrelevant. But that day is not today.

That’s not to say the next iPad won’t succeed; the second one was more popular than the first, and third will be more popular than either. The adoption curve will keep getting steeper. It just might not spike.

The new iPad will succeed not because it offers something fundamentally different than its predecessors, but because it’s upheld the proposition a little longer—long enough, I’m sure, for millions more people to come around to it.

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