So today brought followers of Apple some rather exciting news. Following the discovery of code in iOS 6.1 that pointed to a 128GB iPad of the future, Apple has today confirmed that, from February 5, it will offer the fourth generation iPad in 128GB storage capacity… awesome. The press release states that it will be available in black and white, as-per-usual it will come in W-Fi only and cellular versions, and it will set you back an eye-watering $799 or $929 respectively.
When I first heard about this announcement I was filled with excitement, there’s just something so profoundly absurd and yet enticing about an iPad, a small, portable tablet, with 128GB, yes, gigabytes of storage. As you know, the current pinnacle of portable iOS storage is 64GB, which, in a device as light and mobile as the iPhone/iPad, is phenomenal in itself. That kind of storage offered most people all the storage that they could ever desire. It catered for a large library of movies, or a substantial collection of music, or a simply outrageous number of books (my personal favourite). That being said, I know plenty of people who wouldn’t need to much encouragement to fill 64 gigabytes of storage.
It’s important to remember that relevant to computer storage, 64GB seems pretty feeble, however, the vast majority of apps, songs and movies don’t really take up too much storage, certainly not gigabytes, so it’s not really a fair comparison. 64GB of mobile storage is probably equivalent to a much larger amount of PC storage. What I’m trying to illustrate is that we already have access to a phenomenal amount of mobile storage in 64GB, now Apple has doubled that to an astonishing 128GB.
The effect of this is profound on a number of levels. First off, this shows the fantastic progress of mobile technology. The fact that Apple can fit this kind of storage into a device as portable as the iPad is a true testament to fantastic engineering and innovation not only on the part of Apple, but on the entire mobile tech industry as a whole. Whilst I personally might not need 128GB of storage in an iPad, the fact that such a feat can be accomplished certainly gives me a real buzz when I think about what will be possible in the very near future.
Undoubtedly, the most obvious effect of this upgrade is the renewed capability of the iPad. Or is it? Ever since this announcement, I’ve been confronted with smatterings of speculation that this move is to the PC what the 4 horseman are to apocalypse, as though the increased storage capabilities of the iPad somehow gauge the impending and inevitable demise of the personal computer.
Yes, exponential growth of storage capacity is a really cool thing, but that’s all it is, storage capacity. An extra 64GB of storage does not make the iPad a super-tablet, or a computer-killer. It’s still the same tablet it was 4 months ago at its release, just with more Nickelback albums, Liam Neeson films, and pictures of your dog. Of course, increased storage will mean a bigger portfolio of RAW photos or HD video, but that doesn’t change the iPad’s capability to edit and process the footage. The movie software, photo editing, graphic design, music recording, DJ, design, 3D rendering, and word-processing software are all (for now), still a shadow of their PC and Mac counterparts when it comes to capability. I am well aware that there are fantastic apps available for the iPad, but its also clear that these apps offer a portable, mobile alternative to PC software solutions that are ultimately superior. Whilst I firmly believe that a 128GB storage option marks a very significant stage in the iPad’s development, its significance, when discussing the iPad as a PC alternative is not to be exaggerated.
There’s also another issue. It has been suggested that a 128GB iPad may assist in the cannibalization of Apple’s Mac range. However, in this particular instance, I find myself predicting the opposite, the problem? The 11-inch MacBook Air.
You see, the 128GB iPad 4 with cellular capabilities will cost $929. For that you get the iPad and all its workings as we already know it. For $70 more, you can grab yourself an 11-inch Macbook with a 1.7Ghz i5 processor and 4GB of Ram. Granted it only comes with 64GB of storage, but then, for an extra $100 you can get 128GB, just as you would in the iPad. Buying an iPad for $929 is a tremendous financial investment, and whilst it may appear worthwhile to some, I personally cannot justify why anyone looking to invest $1000 on a mobile Apple device wouldn’t buy a Macbook. If its portability you’re after, why not grab the Air? If you’re feeling sentimental, you could always shop around and buy yourself last year’s MacBook pro. With a little contemplation, it seems fairly clear to me that if you’re planning to buy an iPad 70 bucks shy of a grand, then it’s a much better idea to stretch to a MacBook.
As far as I’m concerned, there really isn’t any danger that the 128GB iPad will cannibalize the personal computer. In fact, if there’s a noticeable rise in Mac sales at the end of the next quarter, you heard it hear first.
128GB of storage in an iPad has a tremendous bearing on the future of mobile tech, and is a sure sign of great things to come. That being said, the PC certainly isn’t dead yet, and in fact, this particular iPad may serve to add a few more years to its life. I don’t expect this iPad to sell at the same astronomical rate of its cheaper counterparts, but I trust Apple’s judgement enough to understand there’s a market for it, and on that basis, I can’t see the 128GB iPad falling on its face any time soon…
Do you? Please leave any comments, thoughts or questions you may have in the description, and be sure to follow me over on Twitter @TiP_Stephen