Why the New iPad is Revolutionary.

Not long after the new iPad was announced, story after story was written that this new iPad was evolutionary, not revolutionary. But I am not convinced that is a correct viewpoint. In fact, I believe that this new iPad will actually have a revolutionary impact on the market in some very interesting ways.

Some Historical Perspective

Back in 1981, I wrote the first report on what was to become desktop laser printers. At the time, laser printers were as large as mainframes and took up much of a 9’ X 12’ room. But I had seen Canon’s laser printer engine and wrote in this report that by using this type of technology in potentially desktop sized printers, I could imagine a day when we could publish documents on our desktops. Now, this was three years before postscript laser printers hit the market and before Aldus’s Pagemaker was introduced.

Not long after this desktop sized laser printer engine was shown to Steve Jobs, he made a fortuitous decision to build an Apple laser printer of his own. And after being convinced by John Warnock (co-founder of Adobe) to include Postcript as its software engine, Jobs put in place a key component of technology that would put Apple on the map. Not long after that, Paul Brainerd created a Mac product called Pagemaker and together, these two products launched the desktop publishing revolution. Although Jobs embraced both products, I am pretty sure he and even the team at Apple never really understood the magnitude of these products impact on the world of publishing at first. For Jobs, the decision to back a desktop laser printer was totally out of order given Apple’s PC centric business model and those around him argued loudly with him about doing this product.

But we now know that Steve Jobs’ stubbornness about introducing a laser printer had its roots in his desire to have a digital version of his calligraphic type fonts replicated through this printer. And from that point on, while at Apple until mid 1985 and at NeXT, the issue of high quality graphics took center stage on every product Steve Jobs touched. And when he came back to Apple, this was still top of mind. By the way, I worked on multiple desktop publishing marketing programs for Apple, MacWorld and various hardware and software vendors who were doing DTP like products then and saw up close how Apple single handedly rewrote the rules of electronic publishing, something we now take for granted and use every day when we create our own newsletters, Web pages, etc.

The New iPad

In the column I wrote not long after the new iPad was launched, I pointed out that from the inception of the iPad, Jobs wanted it to have the highest resolution screen possible but that at the time of the release of the first two generations of the iPad, the technology was not there to deliver the real iPad he wanted to give his customers.

But it was always on the roadmap and they had to do some serious engineering between their team and their partners to get us this new iPad to this incredibly high resolution. And with it, I believe Apple is ready to have another revolutionary impact on the market via one of their products.

One good example of this will be in medical applications. Although doctors and hospitals have actually been adopting and using iPads in pretty big numbers, this new iPad will become a must have tool soon. The reason is that with the older iPads, the information they were processing on it was mostly data driven. But as you know, doctors rely on a lot of things like xray’s and digital imaging to help them make key diagnostic decisions. For final analysis they will always defer to industrial strength 10K graphics workstations, but the new iPad with its high resolution screen will now be able to give them on-the-go images that can deliver much more imaging details then they had on their original iPads. This will become an important part of their ability to do immediate analysis and will now become the minimum level of tablet graphics quality they will accept in their medical practices.

Another example will be its impact on catalogs. Apple recently released the new catalog category in the iTunes store but I have talked to some catalog vendors who consider today’s tablets inferior for delivering the graphics quality they demand in their print catalogs. A good example might be Restoration Hardware. They pride themselves in delivering one of the greatest graphics quality catalogs on the market and would have never even considered doing a digital version for the older iPads. But for them and any other vendors for whom high quality images are critical to their catalog sales processes, the new iPad will be revolutionary for them. According to Joaquin Ruiz, CEO of Catalog Spree “With ultra-sharp pictures, text and video, the new iPad is perfect for all forms of publications. March 7, 2012 will be remembered as a landmark for publishers from news, to retail, to education, and to books.

The folks involved in engineering, oil and gas exploration and nuclear energy research will also see a higher resolution iPad as a welcome mobile tool that will become a key part of their on-the-go digital tool-belt. And don’t count out this high resolution iPad’s role in education. This new iPad will deliver a much closer representation of textbooks, especially ones that have a lot of images, graphics and diagrams, and to students it will become the minimum resolution they will accept in a tablet that will soon carry all of their textbooks.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he said he would be happy if Apple could get even 1 percent of the cell phone market. An understatement if there ever was one. And even with the iPad, while Jobs used a lot of flowery language to describe it, he was cautious in declaring what type of impact it would have on the market.

At the launch of the new high-resolution iPad, Tim Cook and team–I believe–clearly understated what this new iPad’s market impact will be. All they said was that it was a newer and better version of the iPad and that they were pleased they could deliver a new tablet with a much better screen. But don’t let that fool you.

I believe we will look back relatively soon and realize that with this iPad, Apple started another revolution that has it roots in their desktop publishing heritage and instead of desktop publishing this time around, the revolution will take place in mobile publishing. The result will be to extend Jobs and teams original mantra that was, “What-You-See-is-What-You-get,” but this time it manifest itself on the new iPad. Think of the new iPad as the new representation of Steve Jobs’ laser printer’s paper. And its influence will touch every market. It will drive what I believe will be the minimum standard in tablets as tablets become the vehicles for every form of mobile publishing content, whether it be images, video, games, newspapers, magazines or books as well as the future of the web.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

38 thoughts on “Why the New iPad is Revolutionary.”

  1. There are still plenty of individuals that claim the iPad is a pretty useless device. Poor for typing and not powerful enough to run desktop applications or do true multitasking. To many, it’s still just a big ol’ iPod, not even worth the cost without USB ports and not being able to run Flash. It think it’s the power users that believe the iPad is rather useless, but the everyday consumer seems to be quite happy with the device. The iPad’s light weight, long battery life and large software ecosystem seems to be the main advantages for consumers. All the power users swear that Windows 8 tablets will be the best for users that want to do anything productive. Everyone has their own opinions about the iPad so it probably doesn’t mean much at all to many high-tech users.

    1. To be frank, I’ve never seen anyone I would consider a power user not like iPad. What I have seen are some “tech dilettantes” who like things like Android. When asked “Open? What do you do with it?” I hear “Weather widgets, sports widgets, gui changes.” That’s it.

      As a software developer with over 17yrs of experience on Java, C#, C/C++, a few scripting languages OSs ranging from various Unix-based systems to Windows, an experience on a variety of RDBMS(Oracle, DB2, Postgres,SQL Server), many frameworks,etc. My current main dev box is Win7 x64. That’s where my work has to run. I think that I would qualify as a power user.

      I use the iPad and the iPhone.

  2. If you recall, the first laser printers had a 300dpi print engine. That was considered minimum by b&w print standards. For color, you need essentially 4 times the resolution, so that each 300dpi pixel can have a dot of each of the 4-color inks. In reality, you need more than that to get smooth gradients of color. And to have a sharpness of text that people expect, you really need 1200dpi to 2400dpi. As many people know, a 240-280dpi color image file is what is required to print a good looking photo on photographic paper or inkjet printer. The new iPad is close to this resolution, and will appear to be even higher resolution than a high quality magazine (like National Geographic) or a photo.

    A good tutorial on the subject is here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/understanding-series/und_resolution.shtml

  3. There is one thing that I can’t believe people have pointed out about the iPad’s display, which I think is remarkable and I further think is absolute evidence that no other company will be able to produce a competitive product anytime soon. My belief in my experience with computing is that the most important hardware component affecting the experience is the display.

    The iPad has a 3.1 million pixel display.

    Try buying a laptop for any price that has a 3.1 million pixel display. The only one I found was by some obscure company that put two 1920×1080 17″ displays on a gargantuan laptop. It was priced at over $2000. I found no evidence that such a thing ever shipped.

    Try buying a computer display for less than $500 that has more than 3.1 million pixels. Apple will sell you one for $999, and the closest I came was an HP 2560 x 1440 display on closeout for just over $700.

    If these companies are capable of producing such a high resolution display for under the $500 base cost of the iPad, why haven’t they done it yet, either for their laptops or for general use?

    1. Why haven’t they put such a high resolution on other devices? Because it is pointless to have such a high resolution on such a small screen. I am sure if you put a 1920X1080 screen next to the “new ipad” screen you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, as much as Apple would like to have you believe it does.

      Just another cheap marketing gimmick to show how advanced they are when in fact it is not a big leap forward. In fact most Apple fans keep telling everyone how tech specs don’t matter, yet now since last all we’ve been hearing about are pointless resolution numbers, and useless pixel counts.

      1. Odessa, ignore the science behind visual perception at your own risk. Blindness, whether visual or idealogical, is a handicap.

        1. As always discussing technical issues with Apple fanboys is useless since the Apple flavoured kool-aid will always make you believe what Apple does is automatically better.

          But yeah go throw your money away for a higher resolution which you won’t be able to notice.

          1. “-go throw your money away for a higher resolution which you won’t be able to notice.”-Odessa_Cubbage

            Are you seriously suggesting that no one is going to notice the higher resolution of the new iPad?

          2. Yeah, for the PC trolls, specs only matter on GENERIC computers. Not on Macs, they can’t be seen using one of those, so they automatically eliminate it as a choice. Funny how that works.

          3. Thanks for worrying so much about our finances, troll. Where is the copy-cat, me-too (android) version of this tablet? And, when/if it ever rises from the stench that is Android, will it cost less than the iPad? No way. You are a troll, plain and simple. Go away, and have fun using Windows (rip off of Mac) and/or Android (rip-off of iPhone).

            Don’t hate Apple, unless you just hate tech. People who use Mac have tried Windows and found it lacking, as a rule. The same can not be said of the sheep using Windows (DOS really, when it comes down to it.).

          4. In its presentation of the new iPad last week, Apple actually spent a fair amount of time dealing with the issue of pixel density and viewing distance. Of course, they wanted to justify the claim that the iPad was a “retina display” (a term with no meaning outside of marketing) at a lower pixel density than the iPhone. But believe me, you will have no trouble whatever telling a new iPad screen from the old one. It is a lot better at a normal iPad viewing distance of 12 to 18 inches.

      2. I guess you haven’t seen the iPhone 4 or 4s then? And I suppose you prefer to read books and magazines that look like they were printed on 300dpi laser printers, rather than hi-res offset printing? Next time you print an invitation for a big family event like a wedding, ask the printer to use 300dpi instead of hi-res, because, you know, it makes no difference.

      3. Yes, but take a small section of an X-ray, where I suspect bone damage, and blow it up 10X and you can see sharply what is there on the iPad. On other devices, you have a pixelated mess.

      4. Truly the dumbest post on this subject I’ve read to date.
        If you can’t see the advantage of storing ‘one’ highly zoomable gesture controlled high res image over storing multiple folders of individual low-res-displayed images then you are seriously over reaching in your understanding of display technology.
        Now make it totally mobile.
        It’s a game changer.

      5. That’s where you are wrong, your hatred for everything Apple has blinded you that a retina display is useless.

        To you anything that’s Apple is useless but to those in the filed who need high resolution screen will find it a blessing.

        Anywhere your hatred will only compound your short coming but then who cares.

      6. People think you are a troll, but I think you have a reasonable argument that deserves a civilized response. Your argument goes roughly like this: I have a 27″ Apple display in front of me, and at the reading distance I use, I can’t distinguish the individual pixels. To the left of me, I have a cheap 20″ Dell display hooked up to my iMac, and again from my standard viewing distance, I can’t see the pixels. So why would we want more pixels on a 9.7″ device?

        When I got my iPhone 4 with its Retina display, I started to really hate the display on my iPad. Why? Because I could see the pixels. The difference is that you hold iPad very close to you, maybe a foot or so away. At that distance, I can clearly see the pixels of text on my iPad. The display looks fuzzy where iPhone 4’s display appears sharp. When it comes to reading comfort, the difference is night and day.

        And remember, Apple isn’t charging you extra for the new display. You are not paying $1,000 for it. You are paying the same price as you would have for a pervious generation iPad.

        So you might ask a follow-up question. Why such a high resolution? You could probably get nearly as good an effect on a 1920×1080 display and they are as common as cockroaches. The answer is that Apple’s original display is exactly half the resolution, so it is easy to convert software to use the higher resolution without code changes. As an app developer, all I need to do is provide higher resolution images and my app will look perfect on both the old and new screens. Using 1920×1080 would require artwork rewritten and software rejiggered.

        More than anything, this is a masterstroke that will all but obliterate Apple’s competition, because once you see the Retina display on iPad, you will settle for nothing less. RIght now, Apple’s competition can’t even create a tablet competitive with iPad 2; this looks like a killer blow to me.

        So I would like to encourage you to visit an Apple Store somewhere after March 16 (avoid March 16 itself; the crowds will probably kill you), pick up an iPad and see if you still agree with yourself :).


      7. It is not about the specs you cretin, it is about the user experience.
        The iPad is #1 in customer satisfaction because the user experience is greater than the sum of the specs. The copycats don’t understand this, so they put in extra ‘features’ to distinguish their also ran from the real thing. The drones and haters buy it for no other reason than it is not an Apple product.

      8. I’m not talking about small screens. Both HP and Dell make 27″ monitors with 2560 x 1440 resolution. Given that as far as I can tell it’s easier to make less dense screens than more dense screens, why don’t they sell these monitors for less than $500? I assume they sell some in the $700 – $900 range that they’re currently priced at. If they sold them for less than $500 they would certainly tempt the people opting for the large 1920×1080 displays that go for around $300. But why don’t they?

        Laptops have 17″ screens. Companies regularly tout the higher density displays on their laptops and charge more for them (Dell, for instance, charges $100 more for a 1920×1080 display than it does a 1600×900 display). But not a single computer manufacturer has gone beyond that. Not one. In a market where companies should be desperate to differentiate their products from each other, not a single one has thought it profitable to tie a 3 million pixel display to a large laptop. Why not?

        These are the same companies who are supposed to compete with the new iPad. They can’t profitably produce a display equal to the iPad on any size device for the price of the iPad.

        Resolution does matter. People pay more for 1080p televisions than they do for 720p televisions. People pay more for monitors that are 1920×1080 instead of 1600×900. People up until now have touted the modestly higher resolution of some Android tablets as an advantage over the iPad. Pretending otherwise is sticking your head in the sand.

        Fact is, nobody but Apple can produce a display OF ANY SIZE with this many pixels and sell it for under $700. That Apple can add on the iPad’s processor, flash storage, camera, antennae, and other features and sell it at $500 is absolutely remarkable.

    2. My Nexus 10 has a 4 million pixel display. Just multiply the horizontal resolution by the vertical. Also it’s an AMOLED display which is technically superior.

  4. Such a worthless article, pandering to the company’s latest piece of dumb-downed plastic.

    -from a long-time disgruntled user of Apple products since the original Mac

    1. Had you been a long time investor in Apple, you’d not be disgruntled. Could that be what’s actually driving you?

    2. “… pandering to the company’s latest piece of dumb-downed plastic.”-Yuma

      Dumbed down plastic? If you’re going to troll, at least put some effort into it.

      I’m pretty sure that HP, Microsoft, LG, Dell, RIM, Google, Samsung and many others do not view the iPad as “dumbed down plastic”.

    3. PC troll, we’re not interested in your opinion. If you have something constructive to say ok, but you people never do.
      If you’re so ‘disgruntled’ why not get a PC and leave Apple (and us) the h*** alone.
      What is it about Apple that the haters cannot let go??

  5. I liked the historical insights on Apple’s desktop publishing. This first drew me to the Mac. I first used a Mac in 1989. I was working on a pre-pagination Windows machine. We designed on paper. Send photos to the composing room physically, and edited on our POS Windows machines.

    Turned out I desperately needed a photo or drawing of a tobacco leaf for above-the-flag promotion of a then-important tobacco story inside the paper. I couldn’t find a suitable photo or picture for a small graphic. So I went into our staff artist’s office (he was off for the weekend) and turned on his Mac. I opened the drawing program he had and drew a nice green tobacco leaf and printed it out so it could be photographed on the composing room’s giant camera and a metal plate made. We couldn’t do anything electronically in those days except output type for pasteup.

    It suddenly dawned on me that I had used a computer to draw a picture, and I’m no artist. And I realized that the computer I worked on all day couldn’t draw anything much more complex than a backslash. I was an Apple convert that day and remain one to this day, almost 25 years later.

  6. If you can’t see changes with the display, why would Apple want to include better Retina display in their features? That would just be absurd. The iPhone 4s had better display than the iPhone 4 and 4s was noted by Apple to have better Retina display.

  7. Nothing revolutionary about the new iPad, “retina screen” big deal only good for text everything else is just upscaled.The Apple sheep will no doubt throw money, and it will be another blockbuster year for apple. What next? iPad 4,5,6 one day the penny will drop, pathetic.

  8. As a web developer I can predict an outcry on the first day that the New iPad is actually used to browse the web because when I size a site to be 1,000 pixels wide it looks great on a desktop machine, however on the New iPad it will take up 1/2 the screen making it look tiny, forcing you to zoom in to read anything. Now that’s inconvenient. FYI – every web page out there is probably optimized for images at 72 dpi so anything more than that is pointless and not going to show up looking any better on the New iPad.

  9. Tim, you are exactly right. I love you recounting the Apple Laser story. It changed the world as much as anything before or since! This display will too. Nothing less will be acceptable on any computing device going forward.

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