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7 years of iPad, but tablets remain in an identity crisis

The Apple gadget is 7 years old, but the changes and evolutions it has undergone during this period are nothing compared to the challenge it will face

Today an important day for Apple's iPad: the tablet of Cupertino, which entered the market on 3 April 2010, today it blows out seven candles an important milestone for a product with an ever-changing nature. Born big and split a few years later in a more compact version, the tablet born from the mind of Steve Jobs the most important representative of a category of products that seems to have exhausted its appeal towards the public, and with a glorious past behind it now forced to wonder about their identity.

(Photo: Apple)The announcement of the first iPad. It was January 27, 2010. (Photo: Apple)

Mocked without mercy before leaving, with 300,000 units sold on the first day of arrival on the shelves iPad alone has raised the then-dead tablet market(buried by Ultra Mobile PCs equipped with operating systems designed for desktop computers, such as Windows XP and Windows 7). They were different times: who could have imagined that to create a new product category, it was enough to take a software that was carefully designed and optimized for touch screens and low-power processors and put it in a compact, well-assembled product with essential lines?

(Photo: Samsung)Tablets before iPad. Argh. (Photo: Samsung)

Software side, actually opponents were too far behind to think about it:7 years ago, just like today, most of Apple's competitors relied on the Android operating system, which did not even include a line of code designed for devices with screens larger than 5 inches when iPad came out. The horrendous Honeycomb version of Google's first awareness of the tablet category would have debuted a year later and then quickly disappeared from circulation; in the meantime, the most reactive manufacturers had already started chasing Apple, but without an adequate operating system behind them, their products looked like awkward and hypertrophic maxi smartphones, and they were not too successful.

(Photo: HTC)HTC Flyer, among the first opponents of the iPad: it had a 7-inch screen. (Photo: HTC)

An outsider like Amazon had to come to shake up the situation with his Kindle Fire; was the end of 2011 and, with a 7-inch display and an ad hoc graphic interface to make up for that still inadequate provided by Mountain View, the Seattle group showed that the alternatives to iPad not only existed, but they even made sense to exist. Apple remained the undisputed lady in the large-format display segment, but a year's time ago Cupertino adapts to the new market trend by releasing iPad Mini, ultra compact and with a 7.9-inch screen.

(Photo: Apple)With iPad Mini, the Cupertino company is in pursuit. (Photo: Apple)

The tablet fever was almost at its peak: all the names in the hi-tech world had realized that they wanted at least a couple in their product line; Google had put its head in place making the 7 to 10 inch screens navigable with the release of Android Ice Cream Sandwitch and Android Jelly Bean, but the problem for Android remained the apps. With a two-year lead and a more responsive host of developers, iOS offered a large software pool able to exploit the full width of the screen as it should, while on Android the situation took time to stabilize. The Apple tablet therefore remained the undisputed champion of the category, but in 2014 the sector began to know a downturn from which it has not yet come out.

Infographic: Global Tablet Market Continues to Slump | Statesman

Several brakes behind the brakes:tablets do not replace as often as smartphones, and are not status symbols like iPhones. Only one solution: iPad had to reinvent itself. The inspiration for Apple engineers came from outside and precisely from the 2-in-1 category devoted to productivity, in that period the only type of tablet capable of resisting the collapse of popularity that involved the sector. Therefore, in November 2015, it was released iPad Pro, which with a 12.9-inch display, a digital stylus and a magnetic latching keyboard was proposed for the first time as an all-inclusive tool for creating content.

(Photo: Apple)Here is iPad Pro, Apple's first tablet specifically for professionals. (Photo: Apple)

Here we are with today's panorama, radically different from the half-deserted one found by Apple at the iPad mini. Indeed, rivals in the 2-in-1 sector come from the PC worldand on their gadgets they adopt Windows operating system and Intel processors: in tablet mode they continue to be not as simple to use as an iPad, but they boast an immense app park and for productivity, a decisive factor in the purchase by their public, they are super equipped. Fighting with these devices will be a must, especially considering that in addition to a new sector to be conquered, Apple has many to own. The iPad brand is no longer representative of a single product: now a maxi phablet in its Mini size, a domestic or student device for consumption and light production of contents in the classic edition, and finally a real computer in the two Pro versions of 9.7 and 12.9 inches.

(Photo: Apple)(Photo: Apple)

Computer: that is what the Cupertino company proposes, emphasizing in its communication not only the versatility of the touch screen and the Apple Pencil, but the long battery life compared to that of the opponents, equipped with powerful but exorbent x86 processors. Only that Apple already has a laptop: it's called MacBook, and because of the transformations of the cousin tablet risks to suffer a contraction in sales. The Cupertino house will have to solve the problem of convergence between these two product lines in some way: the wish to make it by the next birthday.


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