Was Apple’s iPad 4 a Misstep?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) surprised many with its announcement of an updated 10-inch iPad alongside the launch of the iPad mini. After all, a new generation of the Apple tablet had only arrived in March this year and the company is known to make its consumers wait at least a year for a proper product revamp.

Some believe that Apple may simply have wanted to make a bigger impact with its announcement this week and may switch to twice-annual upgrades to minimize some of the pressure that builds up around its product launches. “That’s one of Apple’s greatest challenges,” IDC’s Tom Mainelli told Mercury News. “There’s this sense of disappointment if they don’t knock your socks off with every announcement.”

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While Apple does have to contend with the fact that one or the other of the several of its Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android rivals will have a new product every few months, a similar strategy from the iPhone maker can actually backfire. Several buyers of the third-generation iPad were disappointed that their tablet was already “old” within eight months of launch. Some who had only bought the device recently were even more dismayed, especially considering the high price tag associated with Apple products. The fourth-generation iPad has a starting price of $499, the same as the base price of the third-generation model before the new launch.

Quick updates are “inherently more risky,” The Cambridge Group’s Steve Carlotti told MarketWatch, because a company is “trying to meter the benefits out over time,” rather than giving consumers all the possible features of a product at once.

Then there’s always the danger that consumers start believing the company is not attaching enough value to their purchase and playing with their loyalty. If there’s one thing Apple can’t afford to lose, it’s its loyal customers.

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