October 25, 2012, 8:30 AM — While plenty of consumers are excited about Apple's new 4th generation iPad, there's a smallish segment who is more annoyed than anything. Primarily this group consists of 3rd generation iPad owners. Not all 3rd gen owners are annoyed, but there're enough of us that we've been noticed. And yes, I said "we"; I'm one of those who is annoyed.
But why? For some people it's because we just like to be seen to have the latest thing and now our more-or-less new iPad isn't the latest thing any more. That's kind of a frivolous reason to be upset.
A more legitimate reason is this idea of 'obsolescence.' Clearly my 3rd generation iPad is not literally obsolete now; it works just as well as it did before Apple's event earlier this week. But it has taken a big step in that direction. My fear is that it won't be long before app developers are targeting the 4th generation iPad as their optimum platform.
I've lived through this once. I have an iPad 1 collecting dust somewhere because I got tired of hearing about cool apps that required at least an iPad 2. I held out and skipped the second generation and waited for the 3rd; I just can't afford to buy a new iPad once a year.
Many people who are puzzled by we irate 3rd gen owners point out that technology is always moving forward. Do I get annoyed when a new, faster laptop comes out? No. Faster computers and computer parts are coming out all the time.
So what's the difference? The difference is that there is just one iPad manufacturer making just a few models. This means iPad app developers don't have to worry too much about scaling or graceful degradation. When you're writing a program for a PC you have to account for a huge variety of hardware, from the very fast to the very slow. That's not the case with the iPad. Or at least it hasn't been.
Ironically hope comes from Apple's other announcement, the iPad Mini. With Apple launching a new product line based on an older generation processor, it will behoove app makers to take into account slower hardware going forward (assuming the Mini does well, but I think that's a safe assumption). Of course the iPad 2 is still around as well. Apple is finally fracturing it's install base (bad news for developers, potentially good news for owners) so it may turn out that the fears that lead to my annoyance are unfounded.
So while it may be true that by spring no app developers are targeting the now defunct iPad 3 (Apple is removing this model from the market), many may still be accounting for the iPad 2/Mini audience. We 3rd generation owners will be the lost generation somewhere in the middle, but at least we'll still be able to run new apps.
And of course if you're someone who uses your iPad for web browsing, e-reading and video playback, you think all this fuss is silly. I'll admit that I'm something of an app junky and in particular I download a lot of games on my iPad. When Epic's Infinity Blade: Dungeons ships and runs well on a 3rd generation iPad, I'll finally rest easy.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.