Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Is the New iPad Too Hot to Handle?

The New iPad arrived with a semblance of the old delivery, but with less of the panache that Steve Jobs was renowned for. It was revealed that it had 4G, which increases network surfing speeds tenfold (if you have access to 4G), it has a screen so good we’ll never need to have it improved, apparently and the cameras are boosted to five megapixels, so the photos you can take with them are almost good enough to show on the improved screen.

There was a much reported holding of breath as the launch ground to a finish, an eager awaiting of the old Steve Jobs ‘and one more thing’. It never came; pens were stowed, flashes were turned off, copy was written and reports filed. There was grumbling from the press corp, who actually liked the last reveal, the tease, the opportunity to file a scoop if they were quick off the mark and prepared. And to be fair, even with ‘one last thing’, Apple were going to struggle anyway as they rushed to fix something that clearly wasn’t broken.

However, a couple of weeks later and it seems there may have been an unreported feature, but I doubt Apple would have wanted the launch to end with the phrase ‘oh, and one last thing – some devices have a tendency to overheat.’ Now it’s difficult to be precise about how widespread this issue is; clearly there’s more than one person worldwide who thinks their New iPad is overheating and at least one report claimed his New iPad reached 47 degrees within ten minutes of operating – the complainant didn’t state Celsius or Fahrenheit, which clearly makes a difference, but I’m assuming the former as that makes more sense – and stated he had to switch it off as it was too hot to hold.

I’m inclined to treat the initial reports with a bit of caution – we know Apple have sold rather a lot of these devices since the launch, 3 million by all accounts (source: Apple), so it's possible that any failure rate may be within acceptable margins; there’s also evidence that many have been shipped hurriedly to destinations they weren’t launched in. That raises a couple of questions – were they shipped with the same care that Apple would have taken, given speculators were rushing to beat launch dates to cash in on the new product line? Were they shipped with the correct adaptors for the new destination?

And even if the migrant iPads aren’t the issue, just how many are overheating, and what is the acceptable operating range anyway?  As I said above, it may turn out that there are a minority of faulty iPads in circulation that are within manufacturing failure rates – if so we’re just talking about a warranty issue here, assuming the iPad was bought legitimately and not sold on to a region that currently doesn’t have a warranty agreement with Apple for the product. So, apart from those who rushed to feed speculators just to get their hands on the new iPad a week or two before the rest of their countrymen and women, it may not be an issue.

However, experience with tech gadgets that are rumoured to be faulty have resulted in pretty drastic adverse reactions.  Remember the furore over Sony laptop batteries, including those that were fitted to Dells, when some went on fire?  A serious situation that cost Sony a lot of money and undoubtedly a disproportionate amount to the real problem.  Unfortunately once the networks get a hold of a story, such as this one from you tube, then the manufacturer can lose all control over the direction of the problem.  For all I know, given enough space, Sony could have carried out an orderly recall of batteries from the affected batch; instead it ended up spending millions fighting a publicity war.  Regardless of the veracity and scale of the iPad problem, Apple could end up doing the same.

So if it is faulty, how did they get here?  Was Apple so desperate to show that they were still the big innovator even after the tragic loss of Steve Jobs?  Were they too eager to maintain a lead in a market they created and are still out in front?  I can't answer that, nor can I verify if there is a manufacturing and/or design issue with the new iPad, I just know that Apple could be in for a rough ride. Because being the most popular manufacturer in the world with the most popular consumer product means they are also the highest priority for those who hate to see unbridled success.

Hold on Apple, this could shake you to the core.


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