Profound Disconnects At The Apple iPad2 Announcement
Steve Jobs and team made some serious mistakes and took some serious liberties
Sometimes it takes a few days for these things to stew. Sometimes it takes a village. In my case, it took a roundtable I cohosted on Leo Laporte’s weekly TWiT show to put together an explanation in my mind for the mistakes and missteps at Apple’s iPad 2 announcement last week.
What am I alluding to? The fact that CEO Steve Jobs fed us a few too many tidbits that didn’t add up or simply were wrong. Jobs could be forgiven if he was off his game -- his cameo appearance last week came during a much publicized medical leave of absence. But his handlers ought to have known better.
Specifically, Jobs claimed that the iPad 2 would be the first tablet based on a dual-core processor to ship “in volume.” Wrong. The Motorola Xoom and the Dell Streak both feature dual-core processors. Did Jobs simply make up his own definition of "volume," or did someone on Apple’s PR team not do his or her homework?
Jobs repeatedly claimed we’re in a "post-PC" era, where specs no longer are necessary to define a product. It’s all about the user experience, he said. Yet during the press conference Jobs read plenty of specs off the big screen, though he left out the ones (like the iPad’s relatively crappy 1024x768 screen resolution) that might make iPad 2 look less than cutting edge.
More obviously, Jobs stood in front of a blown-up quote allegedly from a competitor that, upon further review, had an enormous mistake in it -- a "typo" that fell entirely in Apple’s favor. The quote, attributed to a Samsung VP and referring to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablet, read: "As you heard, our sell-in was quite aggressive ... around two million. In terms of sell-out, it was quite small."
Problem is, what the Samsung VP really said -- and what Samsung had clarified long before the iPad 2 announcement -- is that the Galaxy Tab’s sell-out was quite "smooth." Jobs’ kingdom for a fact-checker!
As John C. Dvorak said yesterday during our TWiT roundtable discussion: The people watching the Apple press conference are the type who would notice if the badge on a Star Trek uniform were an inch off. As a journalist, count me among that crowd. But this isn’t Apple bashing. If Steve Jobs, CEO of one of the world’s most valuable companies, is going to repeat lines like "post-PC era" and offer up flatly wrong statements, somebody needs to call it out.
No doubt the iPad 2, even if it is a fairly minor upgrade on a revolutionary product, will sell and sell well. But this "post-PC" nonsense is unworthy of Jobs and Apple. Apple can say it’s above the fray, but in the end it’s not. As I write this column, charts are all over the Web comparing specs of the iPad 2 with those of other tablets, particularly the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Specs do matter, and Apple isn’t alone in the tablet world anymore, post-PC or otherwise.
For InformationWeek, TechWeb, and the new BYTE.com, I’m Gina Smith.
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