Opinion: Did Apple overpromise on the new iPad?

Opinion: Did Apple overpromise on the new iPad?

The “new iPad” launched this week, bringing a significant improvement in display quality and 4G connection speeds. But the way it was announced reminded me more of John Sculley’s Apple than Steve Jobs’ Apple. Steve was an expert at setting expectations that the product could beat, while Sculley tended to overset expectations and folks were increasingly disappointed. Sculley’s Apple had problems with execution as well. We saw all of that in the new iPad announcement. John Sculley was the CEO who is famous for firing and replacing Steve Jobs in the 1980s, and I think Tim Cook is now the new John Sculley.

Let me explain.

The new iPad and the old Newton

The Newton was a pretty amazing handheld tablet computer for its time. It significantly exceeded what any competing product could do. But Scully focused on handwriting recognition as the key feature and it sucked. No, it really sucked; it sucked so much it was a running joke for over a decade. This was an example of overreaching. Had Apple positioned the Newton around its strengths, which is what the Palm Pilot eventually did, it likely would have been a success.


Dictation may be the new iPad’s handwriting recognition. Unable to get Siri to work on the new iPad, Apple instead dropped back to dictation. But doing dictation right includes high accuracy and punctuation. Even the best current-generation dictation product is only about 98-percent accurate in a dead quiet room with lots of effort training the device. If you train yourself you can get to 99 percent, but punctuation has always been a bridge too far. And realize that even 99-percent accuracy will create a number of errors in even moderate email. In a noisy room, accuracy can drop precipitously, and the device can begin dictating what other people are saying. That’s not to even mention that listening to someone do this is even more annoying than a loud cell phone call, or someone who is currently arguing with Siri.

This would be more along the lines of a beta feature you might toss out there, but you’d never make it a signature product, the technology just isn’t there yet for anyone.


People were expecting the iPhone 5 last cycle, but Apple redesigned the phone and called it the 4S. It would appear that someone in Apple was pissed about the “S” part, and decided to leave off any version number on the new iPad, even though they are calling this the third-generation iPad on Apple’s website,(when the website isn’t crashing).

Even after March 16, there are likely to be old iPad 2s that folks are going to think are the new iPad.We aren’t, as a group, that observant.


So there will be some percentage of buyers who will buy the iPad 2 thinking it is the new iPad, and be pissed. This decision was likely made to clean out old inventory on top of the price reduction, or in the hope that many of the vendors would sell the old iPad at the old price. Whatever the decision, when you move to confuse, you typically piss off some very vocal folks and that seemed to be a problem with the pre-Jobs Apple.


The new iPad is positioned as having a dual-core processor with quad-core graphics, which Apple said (on stage) has higher performance than the Nvidia Tegra 3. However the Tegra 3 is a five-core (one core is for low-power mode) 12-shader part. Apple is, like a lot of folks have been, equating cores with shaders. They really only have a dual-core part with four shaders. Graphics are massively parallel, and in fact, Nvidia’s next part will be an eight-core processor with up to 64 shaders, or tremendously more advanced than its current offering. It is due before the year’s end. Because iOS isn’t ported to Tegra 3 or 4, doing a benchmark will be tough. But on spec (and engineers love specs), the Apple part doesn’t even look competitive, let alone superior.

Steve Jobs would have just focused on how great the product looked and avoided talking about cores at all. The new iPad looks fantastic, but it is no four-core product, and I think Apple’s presentation crossed the line into misrepresentation, which is always dangerous.

Good product, over promised

Anyone with an iPad 1 or even iPad 2 would appreciate the improvement in the new iPad, but the execution of the announcement has overpromised, which will likely lead some buyers to feel they were cheated.This is the kind of thing that makes people feel stupid for standing in line, and it is a very dangerous to do. The fact that Apple couldn’t port Siri in time is particularly troubling, suggesting it’s having internal execution problems. That was further exemplified by its inability to keep the order sites up after launch.

Apple brought out a product that, on its face and if Jobs had presented it, would have exceeded expectations. But the company fell into the common trap of trying to make it seem better than it was. Rather than doing that with words like “amazing” and “magical,” which are subjective, Apple promised objective specs and features, which will instead disappoint.

I have little doubt Apple will sell every iPad it can make for a while, but I also think an increasing number of buyers will feel ripped off. Maybe the Apple fan base won’t be as willing to stand in line for the next new iPad, regardless of what it is called.

Guest contributor Rob Enderle is the founder and principal analyst for the Enderle Group, and one of the most frequently quoted tech pundits in the world. Opinion pieces denote the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Digital Trends.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Product Review

Don't bother with any other 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 6 is still the best

The Surface Pro been updated to its sixth generation, now coming dressed in black and packing a quad-core processor. Outside of that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where Microsoft has made some truly noteworthy improvements.

A strap for everyone: The best Apple Watch bands you can buy right now

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far and there's something for everyone.

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…

Which new iPhone is the best? iPhone XS vs. iPhone XS Max vs. iPhone XR

Apple has three new iPhone models to choose from this year, making the choice a little harder than usual. What's the difference between the iPhone XS, the iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, and which is best?

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.

Apple’s latest feature ensures MacOS apps are safer than ever

MacOS is mythically known for being more immune to viruses than Windows, but that doesn't mean there isn't room to make it safer. Apple is using an app notarization feature to protect users from downloading malicious apps.

Will Apple introduce a new MacBook at its Oct. 30 event? Here's everything we know

Whether it's called the MacBook Air or just the MacBook, Apple is highly rumored to introduce a new, affordable laptop in 2018. We discuss reports about upgrading displays, processors, sign-in features, and more.

Apple CEO demands Bloomberg retract its Chinese surveillance story

Apple CEO Tim Cook is calling on Bloomberg to retract a story alleging that Apple had purchased compromised servers that allowed the Chinese government to spy on Apple. Apple's investigation found no truth to the story.

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.