By September 30, 2012

iPad 1, iOS 6, And Apple’s Failure To Plan For The Future

As you may know, iOS 6 dropped support for the first-generation iPad (iPad 1), which was sold from spring 2010 through spring 2011.

Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper, defends Apple on this, noting that the iPad had only 256MB of RAM on its A4 system-on-a-chip. He also notes that the iOS of the time was very different from that of today.

…when the iPad 1 was released with iOS 3.2 in early 2010, iOS was very different and needed far less RAM. There was no iCloud. No Notification Center or Game Center. No Personal Hotspot, iTunes Match, AirPlay, iMessage, or over-the-air updates. No Newsstand background downloads. And, critically, no multitasking, so no need to keep Skype or Pandora running in the background while playing Fieldrunners or reading Instapaper in the foreground.

In short, that’s all the memory the orignal iPad needed. While true, it’s entirely symptomatic of Apple’s tendency to design hardware that supports the demands of its software at that point in time — and only that point in time.

As we saw in Apple And NFC: Why Not Plan For The Future?, Apple failed to add support for NFC technology in iPhone 5. Again, the reason given was that NFC currently offers no clear benefits to users.

With the emphasis on currently.

As I also noted in the NFC article, just once I’d like to hear Apple say, “The infrastructure needed to make NFC convenient isn’t quite there yet. But we added a NFC chip to iPhone 5 anyway. So when it is there, you’ll be ready for it.”

The same applies here. It makes no sense that a $500 dollar iPad (assuming you didn’t buy the $830 version), sold as recently as 18 months ago, is — effectively speaking — obsolete.

That it’s abandoned by Apple and will soon to be abandoned by developers as enhancements to Apple’s XCode development environment “push out” previous versions that could have been used to support previous versions of iOs.

Critics would blame Apple’s greed, pointing out that Apple wants customers to stay on the upgrade bandwagon. Buying the iPad 1, the iPad 2, and then the iPad 3.

And they would have a point.

To be fair, Android owners are used to this treatment. Just today, Motorola confirmed that the Atrix 4G won’t be receiving an upgrade to Android 4.0 after all. The manufacturer broke the news with a recent update to its Android upgrade schedule, noting that the Atrix 4G, Electrify, and Photon 4G will all remain on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, rather than making the jump to Ice Cream Sandwich.

In short, they too, have been left behind.

Want the latest and greatest version? Buy the latest and greatest device.

Marco blames Apple as well, but also rationalizes that blame, “It sucks, but it sucks because of a tradeoff Apple made in 2010, not because of greed today.”

However, yesterday was once today, too. And wouldn’t it have been nice if Apple had added just a little more RAM to the original iPad? With an eye towards the needs of tomorrow?

Tomorrow, of course, being today.

And wouldn’t it be nice to know that the device you’re buying today won’t be obsolete tomorrow?


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