Bringing specs to an experience fight

Bringing specs to an experience fight

It occurred to me recently that Apple is successfully reframing the tablet market so their competitors look like they're bringing specs to an experience fight. From hammering "post PC" in their iPad 2 introduction to the time spent on GarageBand and iMovie, Apple was clearly trying to not only raise expectations for what mobile devices should look and work like, but how they should be considered. They're a feeling, an interaction, a smile, a riff, a clip. They're jazz.

2x faster, 9x better graphics, thinner, lighter. Apple said that much but beyond dual core and Apple A5 we didn't get the name of the CPU or GPU, much less how much RAM was wrapped around them. Contrast this to the Tegra-touting, Qualcomm-carrying on competition and they're pretty much having two different conversations at this point.

It's safe to say everyone is beginning to understand the velocity of tablets but so far only Apple has proven to understand the direction. That may soon change but until it does, checkboxes won't be sufficient to differentiate from or compete with the feeling of using an iPad. At least not for the tens of millions of consumers that make up the mainstream.

Update: Bringing content to an experience fight

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Bringing specs to an experience fight


industry and the way we listen to music.? It cltloemepy shifted music from CD's to digital files. It was huge and clunky, but it was still considered ultra-portable . Then came the iPod mini, it was cool looking, even smaller and came in colors. The iPod nano, made the new standard of devices to be very small. The new iPod video and then the iPod 3G (which I had). Next followed the release of the iPhone, cltloemepy revolutionized the phone industry. Phone's now became devices to listen to music

Would be even better if they didn't even discuss the processor. Just 2xspeed, 9xgraphics, thinner, lighter, video cameras and great new apps (that Android cant even get close to providing. Game over.

everyone forgets the ipad has only been here a year. your all hanging onto the apps/experience thing because its the only stat you have left, in a year android will surpass iOS aps in quality tablet apps just like they have on everything else.. there is no stopping the android machine. the growth and adoption of android has outpaced apple im every way, taking android much less time to meet and exceed apples features. i may have purchased a few ipads over the past year, but im not usimg an iphone, and my next tablet will not run iOS. specs give developers the platform to build the next generation of applications, so a more powerful device today means newer application experiences sooner. android is the one with the headstart now for the next generation/incarnation of the tablet experience. apple will be rusing for the ipad 3, the dual processor thrown into the ipad2 was just to stop the bleeding as a quick stop measure to try to buy apple enough time not fall too far behind before the ipad3 is avail.

Android is polluting the market with halfassed, unfinished product on jammed together, cheap hardware. I hardly call that a good user experience.

Your an idiot. Android has outpaced apple with tons of hardware and tons of bugs. I have a google tv. It's cropped with bugs and no updates. Girlfriend has a droid x. She hates it so bad that she uses my iPhone all the time. Her phone constantly turns on and goes to sleep (and makes a noise while doing so) all by itself, randomly, all the freaking time.
Android is like the Microsoft of mobile devices. She even gets Black Screens of Death. Lol

Sweetheart - in electronics, to get a better spec here, you have to deal with a worse spec there. Nothing is free. For example, you want a faster processor or bigger screen, you give up battery time. You want a free and "open" OS, you have to deal with malware. When designing a high tech device, you have the weigh the pros and the cons of every design choice - and there will always be cons.
Is the iPad 2 perfect? No. Does it have the best specs? No. Does it give the best possible tablet experience overall? That is something everyone has to decide for themselves, but a ton of people will be saying "yes" with thier credit cards tomorrow.
I really do hope some Android tablet makers create truly awesome competitors to iPad2 (and actually release them) as that will just cause Apple to make the next iPad that much more interesting. But anyone who plans on competing with iPad just by having the best numbers on a spec sheet (leaving off the "bad" specs of course), will taste all kinds of fail.

In my opinion i feel that this is a huge lwodten from apple and i bet they are going to cell nearly half of what they expect to be sold I am getting one, just to point it out i guess it would just look nice on a table (umm ok i need a better reason) .. anyways benefit the economy.. well i dont see how . and businesses well unless the iphone dev-team (ipad-dev-team in the future lol) manages to hack this thing and have it be able to connect to a PC or MAC and be used as a multitouch tablet then i dont see how

browse the internet and could be rentcollod with our fingers. Every phone now is a touch-pad. The? iPod touch. And finally the iPad. Apple revolutionized the way we saw computers, music and phones and Steve Jobs was the man in the forefront leading the way. Steve Jobs is one of the most important and influential human beings in the new millenia.

yup, they just "threw" a dual processor inside, right at the last minute. They were probably swapping them over late into the night. Stand back everyone; this guy is a 'genius'

That's all well and good Rene, but I'd like to know spec-wise what we're dealing with..........if only to try and future proof my purchase. I'll be holding off until I see a few teardowns. Thankfully you Yanks are getting it before us I'll have plenty of knowledge about the inside before it's available over here :-)

This is what I try to tell people. About Apple products in general. You're not just paying for a great product. You're paying for the experience.
I get the same feeling, not just when using my iPad, but when using my iPhone 4, my Apple TV, my new MacBook Pro. Heck, even setting up my Airport Extreme was "magical"!
Everything "just works" and works well and that is something that the competitors have yet to replicate. Their only ammo right now is specs, hence their focus.

Even on lower specs. My normal iPad, even beats the XOOM I have.
This is based on touch responsiveness, speed while browsing, and the many apps.
All apps look better, and watching flash movies through SkyFire, while there's still no flash on the XOOM. the XOOM crashes too much. Also had many Crapdroid phones. I was the first in Holland to own a G1, had an HTC Desire(gave it to my son). An bought an Galaxy S(which I tried to give to my wife, but she still likes her iPhone 3GS more, so gave it to my little niece) many RIMS. But I still love my iPhone 4 more.
When it comes on 25 march to Holland I'm buying it immediately and give my old iPad to my wife. My kids love the iPad 2. So crapdroid have to go a long way, for even coming Close to iDevices.
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I knew it would be a sound bite and/or catch phrase the instant you said "bringing specs to an experience fight." Classic.
It reminds me of people who used to say "I can build a pee cee for $300 that's faster than your iMac." And I would respond with the old auto racing proverb: "You can't turn a pig into a thoroughbred. But you can still make a really fast pig."

Great quote! Another that comes to mind is this:
"Fast, cheap, good. Pick any two."
The iPad2 is the first product I've ever seen that actually gives all three.

@ shane - " in a year android will surpass iOS aps in quality tablet apps"
In a year fragdroid will still be in beta. That's how Google rolls.

Attention all Apple haters. Please just jump on the bus and enjoy the ride already. Their is no real competition, the biggest competitor to iPad 2 is iPad 1. Same with iPod. Accept what millions already know...Apple's products are better. Don't just hate because their products are popular. Adopt them because they combine all the right elements in all the right places. It doesn't really matter to most people what the specs are...the apps, the user experience, the design, the price provides enough. 15 million people in 9 months don't lie. Magical is the right word, like Isaac said, even the Airport Extreme/router was easy and fun, and the battery charger for that matter. I love technology and always read about other companies and their products, but nothing and no one compares to Apple. That is the bottom line.

Apple is the only one who understands?
If you take a step back and think for a second, Apple doesn't understand.
I love my macbook, but the experience on my Xoom is 10x that of the iPad. Google has gone and developed an etire operating system based on the tablet experience, while the iPad is a giant iPod. A dock full of applications.
Google clearly doesn't have as many tablet optimized applications as Apple, but the App store didn't fill over night either. It takes time for developers to make the software.
For those of us running the Android OS we now have the tablet experience witha growing number of applications that will surpass that of the Apple App store in a matter of time.

A good experience needs good specs though. Apple is simply marketing the end result while not touting the specs too much other than its own branded specs. Like the A5. Poll some nontechies and no one has a clue what that means. It's just better than the A4 is what they'll take away. Apple is brilliant at marketing and especially at coining terms like Facetime, Retina, etc.
The other companies let Apple do this though. They let Apple shape things. They even walk into Apple's trap by acknowledging these things. Samsung went back to the drawing board basically saying thinner is better. HP, after (rather pathetically) copying the first ipad, is rumored to be shifting things to its Notebook group.
These other companies do not market. Apple defines post pc marketing. If they want to compete, they better figure this out though. It's hopeless to compete in a market which Apple designed and has the power to change things to their liking.

I felt the same way, when watching the keynote and Steve kept coming back to developers and how Apple developed apps to show what can be done and challenge developers to do even better. Most people were groaning that they spend too much time on the 2 apps to fill the hour. I saw it as a more deliberate part if the presentation to differentiate themselves further from other tablets. It was a smart move on their part. Remember anyone can out together a tablet with specs to match, but what really makes it be "magical" is the content available to make use of said technology. This year apple is saying the iPad is not just for consumption, but creation as well.

After having an iPhone since the very beginning I tried an HTC Inspire for a little under a month. What I will say is the one thing Android has over Apple right now is Notifications. That's it. There is no fluidity to it. What HTC had to do was take Android and basically rewrite code because Android really does have a method. It's thrown together. Been reading this book called The Element. It talks about how the Far East and The Western world visualize things. Say you have a photo of a tiger in a setting. It said in the West we see just the tiger. In the Far East they describe the same picture as a tiger within the whole setting. This is what Apple and HTC do. They are using Far East principles. Web OS as well. It all has to have a flow or an experience. Android is pretty much looking at just the tiger. Android is not winning anything. I will admit though Apple has to get iOS 5 right. I didn't really like Android but I liked what HTC did with it.

While I personally prefer Apple products I wouldn't want any one company or platform to dominate as competition is a good thing. Especially in an emerging market it drives innovation.

Yeah, competition is good. But, if no competition is bad, then we're in trouble... because these other bozos are clueless.

This has always been the the Apple marketing line, don't worry about the spec, look at the experience. When it was Macintosh vs DOS PC that was the line. When Apple sued MS for copying the Apple look and feel the theory was they were trying to copy the Apple experience. Apple has always been about the total experience, its a very consistent message and nothing remotely new.
Specs beat experience like a redheaded step child in the PC market. The race is still to be won on the Mobile Device side, but experience is certainly in the lead today.

I disagree that specs have ever beaten experience, except with nerds. Remember that Microsoft is a software company. They didn't get their huge marketshare on hardware specs. Hardware has always followed in response to software advances. Right now, Apple has the OS and application mojo. Hardware doesn't draw developers, customers do.

Specs did beat experience. MS was not selling PC's, Dell, HP, etc. Were. What did they sell? Faster processors, more memory, faster GPU's, etc. and works with the apps you already have (specs and backward compatibility). As best I can tell, Apple had about 9.7% of the US PC market in Q4 2010, so that's 90% of the market it didn't have.
The conclusion is beyond doubt, what can be argued is why and will the same thing happen in the Mobile Device market.
I have a theory about why and about why it may turn out the same way for Mobile Devices. Once again consumer demand is pushing corporate adoption. In the late 80's early 90's people were bringing tech from home to work on or branch offices were using office supply budgets to buy their own computers. IT departments had to adapt and catch up. Same way with mobile.
But when IT departments played catchup, they did not prefer technology that could not be customized, striped down, controlled by them and locked down. All things they could not do then with Apple products. Is that a likely outcome in this market? Don't know.

One crucial difference about Mac/PC vs iPhone/(other platform)
Businesses love spreading out their costs. PCs won the war not only because of specs or cost, but because they were more easily fixed and upgraded. If RAM was faulty, it was no big deal to buy some off the shelf RAM and swap it out. If you needed an upgraded component, it was relatively easy to buy it and plug it in, extending the useful life of your investment. Individual users may not have cared much, but for a business with dozens/hundreds/thousands of machines, this was a big deal. Going back even before the NuBus area, fixing/upgrading Macs was always more expensive and more difficult, and, on some models, it was simply impossible.
With mobile devices like phones and tablets, which tend to be more short-term and disposable -- this is a non-issue, as even the most open platforms have no simple means for component upgrading or easy self-repair. There might be a competitive advantage in there somewhere, but no manufacturer has stepped up with one.

Excellent point. Expandability/extendability was major factor in the PC/Mac buying decision for businesses that may not be a factor with devices that are a non-repairable/upgradable product.
What may be a factor is the inability to lock down/load proprietary software, for example loan application software for a mortgage lender, or inventory control software for a manufacturer on an iPad. Can these apps become web based? Maybe. And how about locking the device down? Only connect via vpn? Two factor authentication that kind of stuff.

I agree completely with your cmonemts on the app pricing. I'll probably buy the iWork suite because it's a full-featured office suite at just $30, but I hope Apple hasn't put that price in developer's heads by default. It's possible that if the apps are good enough (time will tell) that $10 will be a nice spot but I can't imagine paying $10 for some of the cheap/free apps I have on my iPhone. In the end the market will drive app pricing, if no one buys apps at $10 devs will drop prices.

One thing that we are overlooking is that for better experience you need better specs and apple ipad is not lacking in specs. It just optimizes everything and gets the maximum out of given specs.

One other note. Post PC is a silly term. If a device requires a PC to receive software updates and to activate, it is not Post PC. Mobile Devices are a better term imho.

Post PC doesn't mean the PC is gone. Heck, Apple sells PCs too. Rather, I believe what they are implying is that the PC has peaked, is mature to the point of minimal advancement and the market is saturated. Calling them mobile devices is accurate, but tablets are being used more at home and in the office now, in PC/notebook roles. For that matter, notebooks are technically mobile devices. I think Apple's point is that smartphones and tablets represent an evolution in computing devices. There might be a tiny bit of a marketing angle too.

To geeks like us specs matter, but to the majority of consumers they want it to work and do cool things. This article is great and points out that it doesn't require amazing specs to have a good product, it requires understanding how the experience should be.
Great article Rene!

I say the iPad specs are not amazing. Right now they are sounding half-assed and cheap. We'll have to wait for a teardown and part number check to see if they really are.
But on the topic of spec "battles". Apple only releases one iPad at a time while there are several Android tablets going out. Because of this definitive consumer spec information is actually important to aid in differentiating the Android tablets. Plus when you're looking at something like the Xoom it helps to justify the price compared to the iPad when the parts look to be so much higher quality...

Yup.. iPad specs is good. But i tought the point is "why bother argue about the specs, compared with other brand, if you can get great experience while using the product?" i.e If i can play Crysis on 60fps with HD5870, why should i replace it with HD5890? The most important is how hardware can run the software smoothly and stable.

the prime function of smartphones is and always will be communication/information - all kinds (including the rapidly expanding "social"). that is Google's strength with all its cloud programs and services, and the reason for Android's success.
but the prime function of tablets has to be more than that - because your phone is already taking care of the communication stuff for you anyway - whatever "more" means for YOU. and "more" is Apple's strength - iTunes, iLife, iWork, the "experience," etc. which is why Android will not be nearly as successful in the tablet market. always a copycat, never a leader.
so it will turn out like the iPod market, with Apple holding 70% long term.

Well, here's hoping HP doesn't screw up their potential "iPad killer" like previous management screwed up on the potential "iPod killer".

Oh, and there's one more thing. What is the one true reason why Apple's competitors keep hyping specs instead of experience?
Because their products only look good on paper. And when your product only looks good on paper, all you can do is point to the specs.

lol it doen't have flash so theres no way it could play nltefix and no cam and no mutli-tasking one app at a time o and it as iphone os so its a iphone/ipod touch but in 10in screen version gayest thing ever if u really want a tablet pc wait for the window 7 ones to come it has the same windows that runs on a computer so u can do everything a computer can