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So the new iPad isn’t called the “iPad 3” or “iPad HD”, what’s the big deal? Apple obviously had their reasons for severing the number from the name, but their timing is peculiar. Why make the decision with the third generation iPad when the iPhone is currently at iPhone 4S? The first possible answer is simple. Right now, Apple is releasing a new iPad each year, and at this rate, we would be at the iPad 6 in just three years. At that point, it’s getting a little excessive. According to Apple, the new iPad is breaking pre-order records already, and is on par to see huge sales. So if Apple is seeing sales increase even while dropping the numerical name, what’s the problem? I would argue that Apple would sell even more iPads if they kept the big ol’ numbers, and here’s why.
People like numbers because it’s easier to brag. As infuriating as it is, many people enjoy being able to say they have the newest iDevice. Take, for example, the iPhone. The easiest way for people to distinguish who has the better iPhone is simply comparing the numbers. And I would argue that it is because of these numbers that people feel the need to have the newest model. Numbers are simplistic. They leave no doubt whose model is newer. As vain and conceited as this seems, it sells. And Apple should care about this.
So let’s look at an example of another Apple product that doesn’t seem to be affected by the Apple hype. The iPod. Sure it’s sold millions upon millions of units, but it hasn’t seen the exponential increase in success of iPhones and iPads, complete with people camping out on release day. Right now, iPods are differentiated by their different “generations”. Nobody lines up to get the “third generation iPod Touch”. A new generation sounds like a revision, an improvement, not an entirely new device. In actuality, this may or may not be the case, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is the public’s perception. And when there is a strong number tagged on the end of the name, people seem to line up, because in their mind, it’s an entirely new device.
Am I saying that Apple made a mistake in moving towards labeling their devices with generations? Yes. Even still, they will likely sell more new iPads than iPad 2′s. However, they are risking the loss of the hype that makes their products sell like hotcakes. Sure people may take note when Apple refreshes their MacBook Pro line, but do you see Apple’s website slowing to a halt when pre-orders hit? (It took over 2 hours for me to pre-order my new iPad). Throwing in some light economics, I believe changing the name will represent a small negative shift in the demand for the new iPad, but this will be dwarfed by the enormous positive shift in demand that it will receive simply from being an innovative new Apple product. I simply think the small negative effect could be eliminated if Apple had released the “iPad 3”. At the end of the day, Apple will be laughing their way to the bank. It will be interesting, however, to see what the new iPhone model will be called, with its rumored announcement this fall.