A friend of mine recently spent a fair amount of time on a semi-successful diatribe comparing Apple’s release schedule to that of game consoles. He pointed out how ridiculous it is that console makers release one revision every 5 or so years when iOS devices get hardware updates once or twice a year, and typically a software update each year as well.
There are definitely complications we could introduce to this juxtaposition, but on a basic level there is a good comparison we can derive from this that relates to some of the coverage of the release of the new iPad.
Jim Dalrymple at The Loop supplements his general exclamation of awe at the new iPad with the more specific explanation that every aspect of its operation seems better. Part of the reason why this is the case is because iPads at least at first are used to complete most tasks using the default software, which Apple can keep as current as possible using their internal release schedules. Dalrymple’s shout-out extolled how delightful the new iPad felt when he was playing with iBooks, Safari, and iPhoto.
Game consoles have had much longer lives than smartphones or computers in no small part because they get far more graphically and technically impressive games than they had at launch as their third-party developers get more familiar with their tools. They also require much less maintenance on the company’s end, as most of their use tends to be either the playing of games or of other third-party apps. They pay the price for this with their long-term update schedule when they are forced to make larger and more disruptive updates to justify a new platform. It only takes a look at how shoddily the PS3 plays PS2 games to see how quickly these more significant changes can sour some customers and developers on a company’s whole console ecosystem.
John Gruber’s coverage of Amazon’s bit-by-bitrollout of their Retina-ready Kindle app even before the official sale-date of the new iPad is example enough of the pressure Apple exerts by shifting their customer base’s expectations to compel third-party developers to keep up. Consumers like it, and developers, despite having other available bones to pick with Apple, seem to have taken a shine to the App Store as well.