Rumour sites have mostly agreed on today’s announcement of iPad 3 will have Retina Display, 4G LTE data connection, slightly thicker casing by 0.8mm, same pricing, better cameras, etc. What they have not done much of is to look at the impact to the users and the market. They didn’t even mention what a new Apple TV with 1080p will do to take over the gaming market or even cable tv industry.
It was less that 2 years ago when Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with Retina Display to a rather sceptical market on the actual impact of the higher resolution. By now people have forgotten how big a change that was and the wow factor when you first get see it in real. Look at your iPad 2 now because after tomorrow, there might be no going back to it, just like an iPhone 4 user can no longer bear the quality of the 3GS.
Retina Display, sparing the debate on Apple’s marketing spin or scientific definition of retina resolution, raised the quality high enough so most people can’t tell how many dots there are on the screen anymore. You can no longer see the individual pixels and future upgrade of the resolution will be less apparent simply because your eyes won’t be able to see the improvements. In a technical way, it can be read as the resolution of retina screen is as good as it gets, comparing to your viewing resolution of real objects directly.
But what does that really means in the real world? And why doesn’t it seem like a big deal to most people when you just mention it? Retina display can match the quality of best printed media today. Okay, it doesn’t match the texture of paper, but it has matched the per page quality of printed media with many additional interactive and multimedia capabilities. Quality is not something that can be easily expressed or communicated even though it can be measured, because the appreciation of it is not easily measurable. We usually do it by looking back at older, lower quality items to appreciate what we currently have, rather than dreaming of what can be improved on.
Quality improvement is easier said than done particularly when most things seem good enough. It takes something special to have the persistency to pursue excellence. Apple has it and it is making them the most valuable company in the world. They drive incremental improvements in all their products regularly not against their competitors who are all so far behind but for their own plans to build great products. That’s the best example on how to win in the current economy.