Apple's name for the new iPad is "the new iPad."
Or to be more specific, just "iPad." The third generation of the company's tablet has bucked Apple's own tradition of numbering models chronologically -- it was widely expected to be the "iPad 3" -- to distinguish them from their predecessors. Whereas the first iPhone was followed by the iPhone 3G and 3GS, then iPhone 4 and 4S, the iPad has gone from "iPad 2" back to plain old "iPad."
"Let's be honest, the name 'The New iPad' is already a $10 billion mistake, black eye on the Tim Cook era, and it's an hour old," tweeted one user. Another chimed in, "So, just to confirm: Apple created a new iPad, declined to give it a real name and barely changed it from the last one? No thanks."
Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller told Fortune's Miguel Helft Apple chose the name because the company doesn't "like to be predictable."
But that pithy response glosses over the fundamental logic and branding genius of the return to a moniker devoid of numbers or acronyms. With a single word, Apple has signaled to consumers they should consider the iPad heir to the PC throne, while accentuating the differences between its device and rivals.
Whereas Apple's iOS devices each have suffixes that distinguish one version from another, its PCs have kept the same name from generation to generation. The first MacBook Air, launched in 2008, was called the MacBook Air, as were all subsequent versions of the laptop. And whether the device has an 11-inch screen or a 13-inch screen, a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, 2 GB of memory or 4GB, it's still the "MacBook Air" -- no "MacBook Air 4" or "MacBook Air 13.4." Likewise, Apple's iMac has been "iMac" for more than a decade.
Calling the latest iPad "iPad" links the tablet more directly to Apple's stable of PC devices and suggests the gadget isn't to be seen as an accessory, but a staple -- something to be relied on for multiple generations, or even as a substitute for a PC. "iPad" also shifts the focus away from how the device has evolved and instead emphasizes that it belongs to a class of devices all its own.
Apple CEO Tim Cook proclaimed that Apple has "its feet firmly planted in the post-PC future," noting that 76 percent of the company's revenue stems from sales of iOS devices. The iPad name is one more way Apple has affirmed this.
Apple has also used the one-word "iPad" to distinguish its tablet from a growing number of Android competitors, which, almost as a rule, have impossible-to-remember names that rival the titles of British aristocrats for complexity and wordiness.
Tablets touted as alternatives to the iPad include the critically-acclaimed "Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime" and even more befuddling "Asus Eee Pad Slider SL 101" -- both solid devices, but difficult to ask for by name. Samsung has used a system of numbers (with decimals!?) and words to distinguish between versions of its Galaxy Tab. The company's line of tablets include the Galaxy Tab 7.7, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 8.9, and Galaxy Tab 10.1, titles that correspond only generally to the capabilities of each device. The onerous names of Android gadgets have become so notorious that they've spawned a website, "Android Phone Name Generator," mocks smartphones' names with titles such as "Acer Liquid Vivid Z E G1."
The simplicity of the iPad's name not only makes it easy to remember, but suggests that Apple's tablet is exceptional.
Madonna doesn't need a last name. Nor does the iPad, it seems.
Check out the slideshow (below) for everything you need to know about the new iPad.
The photo above shows the difference between the iPad 2's 1,024 x 768 pixel display and the new iPad's high-definition Retina display, which has double the resolution and four times the pixels (2,048 x 1,536 pixels). <a href="http://www.apple.com/ipodtouch/features/retina-display.html" target="_hplink">Apple has described a Retina display as</a> "pixel density is so high your eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels." And how does it stack up to other tablet displays? <a href="http://twitter.com/ryan/statuses/177548523254988800" target="_hplink">GDGT's Ryan Block said</a> of his first hands-on with the new device: "It's the best display I've ever seen. Anywhere, period."
Apple's March 7 event marked a first for Apple, the arrival of 4G LTE connectivity on a mobile device. Purchased with a two-year contract from either AT&T or Verizon, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/06/ipad-hd-apples-next-ipad-_n_1323535.html" target="_hplink">a 4G iPad</a> will, <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204603004577267441821060940.html" target="_hplink">according to The Wall Street Journal,</a> "allow users to connect a[t] speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G data networks." 4G models will also "work on any 3G network," <a href="http://gigaom.com/apple/apple-ipad-event-live-blog/" target="_hplink">per GigaOm</a>. New iPad models equipped with this unique feature, however, will cost users slightly more than models without 4G. (More on this later.)
The new iPad may look pretty similar to the old one, but it's packing some serious hardware upgrades within its thin frame. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/07/new-ipad-vs-ipad-2/" target="_hplink">These include a faster processor</a>, the "quad-core" 1GHz Apple A5X, which Apple claims to offer twice the processing power of the A5 CPU (found in the iPad2) and four times the graphics-rendering power of the Tegra 3 processor found in many Android tablets, <a href="http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/03/live-blog-apple-ipad3-event/ " target="_hplink">per Wired's live blog of the event</a>. <a href="http://gizmodo.com/5891158/new-ipad-hd-the-third-generation" target="_hplink">Gizmodo argues</a> that Apple has also probably upped the device's RAM, "if only to handle the new resolution."
The new iPad did not get Apple standout iPhone 4S feature, the voice-activated virtual personal assistant, Siri. What it did get was Voice Dictation, which will be a blessing for anyone who has ever tried to type on the iPad's tricky virtual keyboard. To use the handy new feature, just tap the microphone icon on the keyboard and start talking. <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/07/ios-5-update-siri-speaks-japanese-voice-dictation-comes-to-new-ipad/" target="_hplink">Current languages supported by dictation</a> include U.S., U.K. and Australian English as well as Japanese, French and German.
While the new iPad offers quite a bit more than the iPad 2 in terms of display, hardware, and connectivity, the outside remains almost identical to its predecessor, measuring 9.5 x 7.31 inches. As expected, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/ipad-3-iphone-5-charger-dock-apple-rumors_n_1304388.html" target="_hplink">the biggest difference between the updated Apple tablet and its predecessor is its thickness...</a>
Compared to the .34 inch iPad 2, the new iPad measures .37 inches deep, <a href="http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/" target="_hplink">according to Apple's website</a>. In addition, the new iPad has .11 pounds on the iPad 2, weighing in at 1.44 lbs. The 4G version of the new iPad is even heavier, weighing in at a whopping 1.46 lbs.
<a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/07/new-ipad-vs-ipad-2/" target="_hplink">The new iPad boasts 5-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera that shoots 1,080p HD video.</a> The iPad 2's rear camera was only .7-megapixels <a href="http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/" target="_hplink">and recorded video in a paltry 720p.</a> <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/07/iphoto-on-ipad/" target="_hplink">iPhoto</a>, Apple's photo-editing software, is now available for the iPad. The app can be used for editing, effects, beaming photos between devices and sending finished products to iCloud or social networking accounts. The app also lets users create photo journals, digital scrapbooks into which users can insert maps, notes and weather widgets. <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57392601-1/apple-launches-ipad-app-for-iphoto-updates-others/" target="_hplink">The new iPhoto app costs $4.99 and is available today. </a>
The 4G version of the new iPad also comes with a feature called Personal Hotspot, which "can be used to share the fast network connection on your iPad with up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB," <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/03/07Apple-Launches-New-iPad.html" target="_hplink">according to an Apple press release</a>. Currently, this feature is available only for Verizon customers.
Even though the new features like Retina Display and 4G connectivity will be consuming a lot more juice, a larger, more powerful battery will keep the new tablet charged for the same amount of time as the previous model. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, had the following to say about the battery during Apple's Wednesday event (<a href="http://live.gdgt.com/live-apple-ipad-3-event-coverage/" target="_hplink">per GDGT</a>): "You may recall we claim 10 hours of battery life, and 9 hours on 3G. The new iPad delivers the same 10 hours of battery life, and 4G is 9 hours."
<a href="http://www.apple.com/ipad/compare/" target="_hplink">The WiFi-only iPad starts at $499 for the 16GB then jumps to $599 for the 32GB and $699 for the 64GB.</a> The 4G version starts at $629 for 16GB and tops out at $829 for the 64GB version. The iPad is available for pre-order now <a href="http://www.apple.com/ipad/" target="_hplink">and will begin shipping on March 16. </a> [<strong>CORRECTION</strong>: An earlier version of this slideshow incorrectly listed the pricing of the WiFi-only iPad.]
Along with Apple's announcement of the new iPad came a league of updated apps that will put the device's Retina Display to good use. According to Engadget, <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/07/apple-ipad-3-liveblog/" target="_hplink">all of the stock apps have been updated,</a> optimized, and scaled up so text will automatically be rendered in high resolution. In addition to uniform updates, several native Apple apps also received new features. <a href="http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/03/07Apple-Completes-iLife-for-iOS-With-Introduction-of-iPhoto-Major-Updates-to-iMovie-GarageBand.html" target="_hplink">Garage Band, for example, will now allow you to save creations to and easily share them through iCloud.</a> Also, <a href="http://www.macworld.com/article/165730/2012/03/apple_updates_imovie_garageband_iwork_for_ios.html" target="_hplink">according to MacWorld,</a> users will now be able to add an automatic string orchestra to their creations through the Smart Strings feature and fine-tune their recordings with Garage Band's Note Editor. Apple's updated iMovie app will feature more advanced editing tools and will enable sharing of videos in 1080p resolution to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and Apple TV, <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/7/2851783/apple-imovie-update/in/2615987" target="_hplink">The Verge reported.</a> The new iMovie will also let users cut trailers while recording video, take advantage of nine different genre templates, and incorporate custom soundtracks from famous composers. In addition to its own apps, Apple also introduced a new generation of apps made specifically with the new iPad's higher resolution and enhanced hardware capabilities in mind. According to Engadget, these apps <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/07/apple-reveals-next-generation-apps-for-the-new-ipad-infinity-bl/" target="_hplink">came courtesy of third-party developers </a> like game-maker Namco, which previewed its jet combat simulator SkyGamblers, and Epic Games, the developer behind popular role-playing sword-fighting game Infinity Blade and creator of the new Retina display-optimized Infinity Blade: Dungeons. In addition, 3-D design software manufacturer Autodesk showed off its Sketchbook app, which allows for a whole new level of sketch detail thanks to the new iPad's improved display.
Follow Bianca Bosker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bbosker