Apple’s ‘Resolutionary’ iPad Means Catch-Up for Developers

New iPad has higher resolution, faster processor

Leave it to Apple to reach beyond the English language to describe its latest gadget.

Leave it to Apple to reach beyond the English language to describe its latest gadget. Hoping to play up the higher-resolution screen of its new iPad (which is called simply "the new iPad" and not iPad 3 or iPad 3D: The Revenge), the tech giant today touted its next-generation tablet as "resolutionary."

With a crystal clear Retina display, which the company claims has four times the number of pixels in the iPad 2 and a million more than HDTV, Apple hopes its latest iPad will become the next must-have gadget for a new wave of consumers. However, the host of publishers and developers which make their living within the iPad ecosystem may suddenly feel a bit shaken as they race to catch up to the tablet's new capabilities.

“The new iPad redefines the category Apple created less than two years ago, delivering the most amazing experience people have ever had with technology,” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said in a statement. “The new iPad now has the highest resolution display ever seen on a mobile device with 3.1 million pixels, delivering razor sharp text and unbelievable detail in photos and videos.”

The new device, which starts at the usual price level of $499, also boasts of a bunch of more technical advancements that may or may not mean anything to the average consumer, including a powerful A5X chip with quad-core graphics, a 5 megapixel camera, 1080p HD video, and 4G connectivity. However, given that the company sold 15.4 million iPads in the last quarter alone, the Apple love affair seems a long way from fading. And it already has technophiles in the marketing world swooning.

"It's a beautiful device to create and consume," said Tracey Scheppach, evp and innovation director at VivaKi. "What that means for marketing is that we're moving from the click to the tap and swipe. That has big implications for how we think about creative… It really just allows you to engage so much deeper with the content – whether that be advertising, gaming or movie content."

Krishna Subramanian, CMO of mobile marketing firm Velti, said that Apple's move towards a higher resolution and higher performance device underscores the importance of content. In terms of advertising, he expects video interstitials to emerge as the most valuable type of ad unit on the iPad. 

But he added that the hardware is surpassing the software, and that will force developers to change direction and innovate to keep.

"People will definitely be playing catch-up," he said. "But that catch-up and the content that gets created will truly differentiate the iPad from other devices."

Others in the industry agree that while Apple's latest tablet provides an optimized screen and experience for users, it will take content developers some time to reach the bar set by Apple.

When the new iPad is released next week, Apple will be sure to include a suite of new apps meant to show off the device's new features. But, David Hewitt, vp of SapientNitro's global mobile practice, said that aside from the app makers that got a head start, and some key gaming manufacturers, it will be awhile before the rest of the apps get up to speed.

"A lot of apps probably didn't take full advantage of the last version, so there's a lot to be caught up for as far as hitting the core performance enhancements for this," he said. "From a marketing perspective, it creates a little more work, but also a better platform at the end of the day to provide and show execution."

Derek Fridman, creative director for SapientNitro, said that his first reaction to the improved iPad was, "Awesome. It's something with a lot more horsepower so we can do more. …We can use really nice high resolution graphics to make the stuff look beautiful on the screen."

But he also said that with every new device, there's always a challenge for the people producing the content and a ripple effect across work that's already in progress.

"Now, clients are going to have to provide assets that are much higher resolution and much bigger in scale," he said. "In some cases, clients aren't prepared to do that or don't have the internal graphics and design capabilities to produce [them]."

For early adopters of the new iPad, that means the majority of apps could show some level of "artifacting" (or blurriness), as people use apps intended for older iPads. But, over time, he continued, the pixelation will subside as developers update their apps.

"For a designer… you're happy that there's a device that allows you to make stuff look great," he said. "It's just the effort beforehand to make sure you've got all the assets in place."