Will Tablet Owners Jump On The Upgrade Merry-go-round?
Are we ready to abandon two year-old iPads?
Apple strangely decided not to call its new tablet the iPad 3. However you describe it, this “new iPad” is hitting the shelves, making the iPad 2 look old and the original iPad look ancient. Of course that’s the same old original iPad that was the most desired object in the world only 24 months ago.
We live in a throw-away society and most of us happily abandon a perfectly good phone every two years because our telco gives us a new one for free. It’s not really for free, as the cost is built into the monthly bill, but it feels free because we’ll keep paying for the same plan regardless.
That old phone might get handed down to family or friends, but sooner rather than later it will end up in landfill (although you really should investigate recycling options). People don’t value things if they don’t feel they paid for them, so they have no qualms about casting old phones aside.
That’s not the case with tablets, regardless of your devotion to Apple, Android, Windows or even the ill-fated BlackBerry PlayBook. If you own a tablet, chances are you bought it outright and plonked down your cash (or at least added it to your growing credit card debt). Even if you’ve got a Wi-Fi/3G model which uses a SIM card to access the mobile broadband network, you probably bought your tablet outright and slipped in a pre-paid SIM.
Your telco isn’t going to turn around after a year or two and hand you a shiny new tablet for free. If you want the latest and greatest wundertablet, you’ll need to pull out your wallet again. Unless you’re a devoted fanboy with deep pockets, that hip pocket pain should make you wonder if your old tablet is still up to the job.
Gadget makers have been relying on rapid technological advances to quickly make last year’s model soon feel obsolete. Yet as products mature the technological leap between models will lessen, as we’ve seen with incremental upgrades such as the iPhone 4S. Truth be told, last year’s iPhone and iPad are still up to the job.
The way to maintain sales could be to encourage the hand-me-down mentality by personalising gadgets to the point where we can’t share them. Tablets are already so tightly integrated into “your” world that it’s awkward to hand them over, even to family members (or especially to family members, depending on your privacy concerns). Once you Vulcan mind meld with your tech, you want it constantly by your side.
The lack of desktop-esque fast user switching on tablets is frustrating, but that’s all part of the plan. If you’re sick of wrestling back your gadgets from family and friends, it’s much easier to justify surrendering your perfectly good tablet and buying yourself a new one. Next thing you know, you’re trapped in the upgrade cycle.