What's in a name? That which we call an iPadBy any other name would be just as sweet. -- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and Apple (II, ii, 1-2)
It happened in October, and it's happening again. Apple's hype machine is white hot with the company's big product announcement just one day away, but Apple fans around the world have been clamoring for the new iPad for months, even though its existence is completely based on rumors and anonymous tipsters.
Once the next-gen iPad is unveiled -- whether it's called the iPad 3 or iPad HD -- all will be known. There will be no more mysteries, no more inaccurate reports, no more conjecture, and no more what ifs. In 24 hours, we will finally know the truth, and the truth shall set us free.
But just like in October, this announcement is bound to leave many fans high and dry, and wishing for more.
Lessons From October
In the months leading up to Apple's iPhone 4S launch, the rumor mill was spinning around the name iPhone 5, which was expected to be a thinner iPhone with greater battery life and a bigger screen. Yet, when CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPhone 4S on Oct. 4, the next-gen smartphone looked exactly the same as its predecessor. Yes, it had an incredible new camera, enhanced components and processors and a new AI personal assistant, but cosmetically, the iPhone 4S was a disappointment.
In the 24 hours following the iPhone 4S unveiling, Apple was criticized for choosing only minor upgrades to its smartphone, instead of introducing a new form factor and phone. Fans wanted a completely new iPhone, not just an upgraded iPhone 4.
But fans had no reason to complain: The iPhone 4S had all of the promised features reported in the iPhone 5, and then some, like Siri. Fans got their iPhone 5, even if it wasn't called the 5.
Birds of a Feather
In the next-gen iPad, fans are expecting wholesale changes to the device, including a better battery, an improved camera system, and a better -- possibly larger? -- display. Yet, with photos and reports saying the iPad is nearly identical to the iPad 2 in size and shape, this March 7 announcement is looking like Oct. 4 all over again.
The iPad HD will reportedly be a few millimeters thicker than the iPad 2 to house the upgraded components, but besides that, the tablet will look identical to its predecessor. Apple is even expected to release the new iPad in two colors -- black and white -- just like the iPad 2.
There is no iPad 3.
Frankly, this is the truth. The next-gen iPad is called the iPad HD, not the iPad 3. Live with it. Embrace it.
This name makes complete sense, after all. Besides the improved display, which reportedly doubles the pixel density of the iPad 2 to create a screen with four times the resolution of its predecessor, the next-gen iPad is pretty much the same as last year's model. Yes, Apple will probably give a minor boost to battery and network capability, but without any revolutionary features, it appears as though looks will be everything on March 7.
This would not be the first time Apple named a device after its main feature. The second-generation iPhone was called the iPhone 3G because of its connectivity to the high-speed 3G network; today's media would've given it the name iPhone 2, without question.
But touting HD as the device's major differentiating feature is a good idea. This is not a complete iPad reimagining, not even a revamp. It's new and improved, but it's hardly groundbreaking.
However, that doesn't mean you're not going to love it.
Why You'll Love the iPad HD
Display quality is everything to tablets, just as it is with televisions. With the iPad, jumping from high-resolution to HD will feel like upgrading from a normal TV to an HDTV. Sure, the two could be made by the same company, but the premium-priced HDTV is more desirable for its one main feature: HD.
Apple doesn't need to revolutionize its devices every time it releases them. The iPhone 4S, besides Siri, included only a handful of minor upgrades. In the iPad HD, being able to watch HD-quality movies and shows on a tablet will be enough for most people to hand over their money to Apple. If Siri is also included, it's an added bonus, but it's ultimately unnecessary to the device's success.
And besides the incredible quality of the display, at the end of the day, Apple would never deliver a device that wasn't close to perfection. The secrecy surrounding Apple is only interesting because behind closed doors, the company makes insanely great products. If the company were secretive and turned out crap every few months, nobody would care what the secret was.
Yet, due to the fact that Apple chooses to release a new device about once a year, each new mystery product gets heavy attention. And deservedly so: Apple is now the highest-valued company in the U.S., and earns more money than many countries make in a year. The company is successful is because it spends all of the time it needs to develop its products, and refuses to release anything other than amazing products.
Tomorrow, you will see the iPad HD for the first time. It may not have all of the bells and whistles you were hoping for -- maybe an edge-to-edge display, or a thinner form, or even Siri -- but the iPad HD will not be a disappointment. Apple can't beat its own hype machine, but it can still deliver an incredible experience through an incredible device. Apple doesn't settle for less.