First, I have been an Apple shareholder for about 10 years. I haven't sold my stock yet — but, for the first time, I'm thinking about it. I'm worried that I'll decide to sell after it's too late.
Anyway — here's the thing. I bought an iPad Mini. It was too cheap not to give in to curiosity, to see if it's more compelling or useful or whatever than the high-end iPad that I already have. Executive summary: it is not.
Here's the list of problems.
1. I already had a great iPad. It's big and heavy, and it hurts my arm to read in bed. It's my primary bed computer, and also the second screen when I'm watching TV. When I read in bed it leaves impressions on my arm where it rests. I can't imagine this is good for the circulation in my arm.
2. I could use the iPad Mini, but I don't. People say they don't mind the grainier screen, but I do. If I have a choice, and I do, I always pick up the bigger iPad with the easy-to-read high-resolution screen.
3. What about as a travelling computer? Well, there too I go for the larger iPad, because it has LTE. It's very functional, in my knapsack, when I go out. I switch it over from Wi-Fi to LTE when I go out. And I turn on Bluetooth, so that my iPod (blue, 32GB) has a way to get on the net. The iPad Mini could be a replacement for the iPod, I suppose. But it doesn't fit in the pocket as well. (However it does fit in my pocket, which is cool. Maybe I should try replacing the iPod with the Mini.)
4. But here's the verdict, the reason why I think this product is making Apple's stock dive. Steve never would have shipped it. I know people have been saying that about all kinds of things ever since he died. Steve wouldn't have done this or that. I've stayed away from saying that — even though the thought has popped into my head — because I've never felt certain, and I don't think it's fair to say something like that unless you really feel it in your gut. But this one is kind of obvious. Technology has to keep getting better. Once you've shipped an iPad with a super high-resolution "retina" display, you can't ask people to buy a new one that doesn't have it. Steve wouldn't have done it.
5. Some features are just features, like a camera, but the resolution of a display isn't a feature. It's integral to the product. It's like trying to sell a car with a fuzzy windshield. Everything you do with the Mini is a reminder that you could be using a nicer product. Always having the nicest thing is what Steve's Apple stood for.
6. The new Apple is willing to compromise. And what are they compromising for? Well, it looks like they're doing it so they can "compete" with Google and Amazon. But again — Steve's Apple never deigned to do something as crass as "competing". It was a foreign concept. Steve's Apple was so far in advance of everyone else, it was ridiculous to think of them as competition. But here is the new Apple inviting comparison to something else. But the comparison that's inevitable and damning, is the comparison between the Mini and its predecessor, the iPad 3. And in that comparison the newer product is a dust-catcher. Its battery is always fully charged. It never gets off the night table. It was an obsolete product the day it shipped, and the day before it shipped.
By the way, this is why the orchestrated reviews of products are often worthless. I invite Mossberg, Pogue or Gruber to re-review their iPad Mini now, a week after their initial reviews, and let us know if they're actually using it. And if they still think it's a winner. I believe it's not only not a winner, but it signals a new Apple that's no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on delighting its users to the point of orgasm. This Apple is content to be a competitor. Not my idea of what Apple is, and definitely not Steve's.
Dave Winer is a software developer and editor of the Scripting News weblog. He pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining,and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School and NYU, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in New York City.