With each new Apple product launch it seems to be smoother and smoother with less wait times, and wider availability. We have previously discussed how Apple has no incentive to innovate with cutting edge features for the iPad because their only competition comes from cheaper products. The more you think about it, you see that innovation is directly correlated to availability. You could have the most ground breaking product of all time, but if you can’t make enough to meet demand, it’s rather pointless.
Apple’s greatest innovation with the new iPad and iPad mini isn’t a new feature, but rather the process that creates it. Tim Cook is a true mastermind at connecting everything to mass produce the iPads as well as all new Apple products. The iPhone 5, iPad mini, and new iPad launches have been Apple’s biggest yet with 10 different countries on launch day, and 25 more a week later. It takes so much to mass produce such a popular product, and have it all sourced, constructed, and shipped across the globe in tight timeframe windows.
Ultimately, Apple likely has many great ideas ready for each generation, but the limiting factor is availability. For instance, the retina display iPad screen was likely ready to go in 2011, but Apple wasn’t able to get enough screen produced to reach the millions of units they need. They were able to source enough this year to make it possible, but other features couldn’t be produced in these numbers, and will need to wait until next year. The haptic display is a good example, as Apple could have probably made an iPad with this technology already. They just couldn’t make millions of them for launch throughout the world in 2012.
The iPad mini is another example as it comes with iPad 2 internals, and a non-retina display. Apple not only needs to get the new 7.9″ retina display, but get it in millions, with also mass produced A6 chips. They also need to provide a battery that powers the extra draining items in the thin chassis. For the iPhone 5, Apple has to condense everything into a thinner package, and be able to make it in such high numbers, that they have had a tough time with. Any new Apple innovation is intrinsically tied into making millions, so it’s a great innovation in seeing what has been produced over the years.
Apple has a clear product road map for all of their lines, but each potential innovation thought up in Cupertino is limited by the ability to source, construct, and ship that innovation in huge quantities for the given year. There are so many potential hardware features out there, but when you’re working with Apple’s scale, it needs to truly be readily available. When you see the retina display on the iPad, the thinness of the iPhone 5, or the overall iPad mini, just think of how fine it looks, and how hard it is to get millions upon millions of them.