Apple really threw up a surprise today by announcing the fourth-generation iPad. We expected to see a few touch-ups to the third-gen, including a Lightning dock connector and a more efficient battery, perhaps, but we certainly didn’t predict so many changes.
The third-gen iPad arrived in March, and we’ve become accustomed to Apple’s annual release brackets. That, for some, was even too soon for a device to become obsolete, so one only has to imagine the outcry of those rocking a third-generation iPad.
As one of those people, I was pretty astonished (and somewhat angry) that Apple had decided to break the mold and release an iPad with significant upgrades on an iteration released just eight or so months back.
Offering some solace to those who’ve very recently bought themselves an iPad 3, it looks as though Apple could offer a free upgrade to anybody whose device is 30 days old or less. At this point in time, it’s not confirmed all stores are participating, but some customers have been contacting their local stores, and it appears the Stockton Street store in San Francisco, at least, will let owners of the third-generation iPad swap their device for the fourth-generation iPad – provided it has been bought within the last 30 days.
While the 30-day policy may be good news for some who’ve only just got themselves an iPad, it doesn’t really offer any consolation to those who grabbed theirs two months ago, or earlier than that. In fact, from somebody that bought their devices three months ago, it feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth.
It’s certainly not the end of the world to me, but I do think it’s a bit of an insult to those consumers that queued in all weathers to get their iPad 3. I can understand Apple wanting to move the release bracket to capitalize on the holiday season, but I do feel as though cutting the iPad 3′s shelf life down by nearly half a year was the incorrect way to go about it.
With the iPad mini dropping, Apple could have simply waited until next Fall to release the next main iPad. The third-gen had the Retina display, quad-core graphics and plenty of zip, and a minor refresh could have added the Lightning dock.
I wouldn’t want to come across as bitter, because I’m very happy with my third-gen device, but I do think there will be plenty of bitter iPad owners feeling more than underhanded in seeing their expensive gadget superseded so quickly.
We’ll keep you updated with regards to the purported 30-day money back offer.