Of all the new things about the iPad announced yesterday, one thing surprised everybody. What did they decide call it? Rather than going with “iPad 3” or “iPad HD”, they chose, simply, “The new iPad”. From Apple’s homepage (screenshot for posterity):
Why would Apple choose this path, after they did name the previous model “iPad 2” and still refer to it as such?1
Historically, Apple has named their products, and let those names stand. As John Siracusa was joking on Twitter yesterday, the iMac and iPod lines have always been named this way. Though this leads to some confusion when identifying older models, it also doesn’t attach a stigma to older products by their names alone. (Eww, that’s an iPad 2? You disgust me.) Of course, Apple didn’t keep selling factory-new older models of the iMac or iPod, so the naming made more sense.
That aside, the simpler naming does fit in with Apple’s design ethos. They hide the complexity behind the consumer-focused name, the same as they create simple software interfaces, and devices with a single button. After the iPad 2 fades from memory, only “iPad” will remain - clean, simple, focused. And it won’t sound ridiculous in 10 years (who would want an iPad 13?).
What prompted them to revert to this course midstream, though? It must have been the media reaction after the iPhone 4S’s introduction, in which numerous publications slammed the new iPhone because they wanted the “iPhone 5”. Forget that the 4S was faster in almost every respect. Forget the public preview of the puck’s destination in user interfaces (Siri). They wanted an iPhone 5, and they didn’t get one, and cried like babies.
Apple then, at their next event, says (essentially) “Fine, no more numbered names. Let the device stand on its merits.” I would guess after yesterday’s event that we will never see an iPhone 5. Not in name, at least.
A question remains, though. When you walk into an Apple Store in three years and ask for a discounted, older, model, what do you ask for?
“Can I please have the iPhone from two years ago?”
“I want the iPhone with the A7 processor”
“Give me a 6th generation iPhone”
These don’t sound right. The last two rely on details Apple intentionally doesn’t discuss at length with the public at large. I guess we’ll find out where they stand as the story unfolds.
And the media reacts… Steven Sande on TUAW, speaking about the denser battery of the new iPad (emphasis mine):
If that’s true, it means that the next-generation iPhone (no way am I going to refer to it as the iPhone 5 after what Apple pulled on Wednesday…) could presumably have much better battery life than the iPhone 4S with little or no increase in weight or size, assuming that the device uses the same Retina display and adds 4G LTE.
It would obviously be a horrible idea to retroactively start referring to iPad 2 as “the old iPad” ↩