The Day The Earth Stood Still (For Apple)

It seems that on the verge of every new Apple announcement, the world just sort of stops. News outlets, blogs, tech nerds and consumers alike all hold their breath for a few hours on that day, awaiting the Next Big Thing. That thing, of course, being a revolutionary (or just new) product from Apple, that seeks to change the way consumers view the particular market that it intends to upend.

But it would also appear sort of perplexing (and unnerving), to some, that today doesn’t mark a day in which Apple will be releasing — or, depending on when you’ve read this, has released — a new product. An iteration, and something that is certainly ‘new’ in that sense, but not anything truly new new. Like, ‘wow, this is amazing because nobody has ever done something like this before’, or ‘wow, this is amazing because it is so simple. Why did nobody ever think of this?’

Instead, when the iPad HD (or the iPad 3, depending on your news source) releases today, consumers will still be in awe. But it won’t be because Apple has, once again, changed the market for tablets in their latest iteration of iPads, or because the iOS operating system has undergone a significant overhaul, or because it blows our minds; instead, consumers will stand in awe because the iPad HD will most likely have a higher pixel density and a faster processor. It will look better, it will perform better, and, for all intents and purposes, it will be better. It might even have a new feature or two, but most likely nothing too mind-blowing or earth shattering. But the best part? Consumers will eat it up. Sales will explode into a million tiny pieces. The media will hail it as a ‘drastic improvement’. Everyone will breathe a sigh of relief that the world hasn’t imploded under Apple’s significant weight.

So Why Do We Care?

But the most important question wouldn’t be to ask whether or not the iPad HD will be game-changing in any way. The question we should be asking is: Why do consumers care? Why, if Apple’s latest update to its iPad line-up is expected to be a minor overhaul (like the iPhone 4 to the 4s), do we even bother?

For one, we could attribute that to Apple’s well-documented penchant for secrecy. Sure we have ‘known’ about the forthcoming iPad HD for a while now. Rumors, reports and anonymous tips have all suggested that it would be released at some point in the future. And yet, it wasn’t until Apple announced their most recent media event that anybody really ‘knew’ when it would be released. Apple had kept us yearning for it with bated breath.

Then we could point to the fact that Apple has, almost unequivocally, been amazing at drumming up anticipation for their products. From the original iPhone, to mid-cycle refreshes for some of their basic computers, Apple has long been able to get consumers to ‘want’ or even ‘need’ their products well before, up to, and even well beyond their release.

When Apple Talks, We Listen

Or we could say that, unlike many other companies in the world, Apple has developed and maintained a prominent culture among the world of consumers, tech nerds, geeks, writers, bloggers, etc. etc. People will bad mouth Apple, for sure. Steve Jobs was rarely ever presented as a kind soul. But their products? Rarely a bad word. Certainly, there are slip-ups here and there, concerns about Apple’s walled garden, and other issues, but rarely is Apple ever lambasted for making a bad product.

Simply put, Apple has set the benchmark, particularly over the past few years, of what great products should look like. They should be well put-together, and simple. They should be limited in accessibility, but not limiting. And, arguably most importantly, they should look good. Successful technology has become more and more about beauty and usability rather than utility, and it’s a beauty contest that Apple has surely been winning.

But today (and tomorrow, and whenever the iPad HD releases) will surely be Apple’s day. They will release the iPad HD, and consumers will be in awe. Competitors will take notes. Media outlets will scrawl up informative little articles, or guides.

All Apple will do is open up its seemingly magical doors and give us a brief glimpse inside. “Wow!” we’ll say, and then we’ll just nod our heads. Because, on some level, we were already expecting them to amaze us.