I have been enjoying my first iPad for the last year and a few weeks ago I got a new one, iPad 2. I knew I should not expect too many new features on it except for better speed and camera support. Indeed it felt very fast. Very fast in comparison to my first old iPad. And then I got a weird feeling about the improvement as if someone cheated me. Actually, it was not faster at all in comparison to my first iPad If I were to compare it with the speed of the first iPad on the day I bought it and unwrapped it from the box before installing stuff and working with it. Indeed my first iPad became so slow that the second one seems like a miracle but this is just a fix and not a real improvement!
So…. Eventually, I understood that actually the iPad product is going through a similar evolutionary path (and I guess also iPhone) to the one Windows/Intel a.k.a Wintel duo went through recent decades. To the ones who don’t understand what I am talking about, the Wintel duo was actually a rat race, every once in a while a new hardware would come, new and shiny and seems to work very fast and then all the developers of the apps running on it see that there is a “room” for more features and complicated changes. The developers made their software better and then magically the same “new” device would become slower and slower. So painful slow that a new version of the same device seems like a true hero with its speed improvements. But this is just an illusion, the new version just fixes the speed problems incurred by the all the software that was “added” to it during its lifetime and eventually every version of the hardware just improves the whole product enough to reach the same initial starting point in terms of speed.
For years it was a duo conducted by MS Windows and Intel and now it seems that the same effect happens on iPad. It seems that once there is a status quo of speed set by some new category hardware (like the iPad, iPhone or PCs were initially when they were launched) then it will never be improved dramatically across versions, actually the improvements from each version to the other one will be just enough to reach the status quo again. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating but not too much.
Another thought is that on the MS-Windows and Intel duo they were always a suspect of some kind of duopoly coordinating their acts but now it is clear that these are just market forces since on iPad, apps are being developed by disconnected 3rd party companies.
The mysterious thing to me in this behavior is the human angle. Why when there is a new product being invented/built such as the first iPhone then there is always a serious leap in capabilities of the product while later versions are always constrained to some “magical” boundary of improvement. Is it a matter of market demand and competition forcing the companies to small improvements or some kind of framing being created by the mere product definition, a framing that is vague enough to be broken when a new product is being devised.