I still remember the days when Steve Jobs came on stage and revealed the newest iPod. There was an aspect of extreme purity and elegance in these products that was simply glorious. In terms of aesthetics, 1.8" hard drive based iPods are quite possibly Apple's most honest and minimal work. Despite this, the iPod lineup had a slight complication in their naming. The 4th generation had two models, the iPod and the iPod photo. The iPod photo was intitially called "iPod Photo" (with a capital P) but was renamed with a lowercase quickly to match the mini. Then Apple later merged the iPod and iPod Photo into a single iPod model. The 5th generation was also called iPod, although everyone called in the iPod video. Finally, the model we have had since 2007 is named the iPod classic.
The iPod nano family is closer to Apple's normal habit of naming. One name. The iPod nano is possibly the best selling music player in history but its single name hasn't caused any consumer confusion.
And here is the MacBook Air timeline. Distinguished by year, nothing else.
I bring these up because Apple has streamlined the iPad’s naming to just iPad with no numbering system. I think this is a sign of great things to come. With the addition of more and more features, I've gotten the feeling that Apple's products and messaging has been getting increasingly complicated. Apple is seemingly addressing these things, beginning with the iPad's name.
It's interesting to see how quick people are to dismiss Apple product launches recently. We've seen this with the iPhone 4S and the recent iPad event. Looking these product timelines shows that Apple never felt the need to completely scrap and redesign the architecture of any of their products year-to-year. It doesn't make financial or logistic sense. And more importantly, Apple isn't a company that changes the look of a product simply to make last year's model look old.
Matt Thomas made this great post including the example of MacBook Air's pun, "Thinnovation" as evidence that Apple did use "silly" puns like "Resolutionary" before the new iPad. They also used the term "nano-chromatic" with the launch of the iPod nano. I think this is another example of Apple's new effort to streamline their message. Despite some people's dislike of these slogans, they are incredibly efficient in communicating to the consumer about key feature of new products. The iPhone 4S' slogan has been "The most amazing iPhone yet." Simply not the same as "Resolutionary".
Another thing that I noticed after the launch was how the iPad product page became so much cleaner than Apple's previous efforts. Check out this comparison with the 4S'.
All of these signs have been able to strengthen my belief that Apple is still the design leader by an incomparable margin to its competitors. The new iPad shows this in every aspect of its design. As I've said, the naming and messaging are two large areas of evidence. What's even more profound is the design decisions Apple has made. The new iPad is all about you and the content you care about. This is why Apple didn't make any superfluous changes to the design. However, this is the area I've personally heard the most complaints. For some reason, people are really drawn to stylistic change. When the new iPad was released, everyone asked me what it looked like. I said, "same" and they were immediately disappointed. But Apple is a company that is not driven by fashion. What they believe in is getting products to the masses that lets them experience and interface with the things they care about in new and better ways. Sure, a new casing could have made some people happy. But It could have also prevented Apple from pricing the iPad at an incredible $499. Apple knows what they are doing. They know what's important. They know what they believe in. I respect that.