What’s So Magical About an Oversized iPhone? Plenty—And There’s More to Come

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this was a concession to AT&T, which doesn’t want users clogging its already-strained data network by uploading lots of high-resolution pictures or videos or running iChat all day long.)

But I can answer all of the missing-feature complaints with a single word: Pro. You can bet your iFanny that sometime in 2011, Apple will introduce the iPad Pro, and that it will have cameras, more memory, a faster processor, and just enough other sexy features to get diehard fans to put their first-generation iPads on eBay and re-up.

When I laid out this prediction to Chuck Goldman, the founder and CEO of Boston-based iPhone development house Apperian, his reaction was, “Of course. That’s what Apple always does, so why would this product be anything different?” He should know—he spent eight years inside Apple, running the professional services division, and was actually in meetings at Apple in Cupertino when I first reached him.

With so much competition in the computer business these days, Goldman says, Apple is forced to get products to market faster and faster, which means they have to lock in each machine’s feature set before the technology is fully baked. “I’m sure that Steve’s edict for the iPad was that, ‘This thing absolutely has to launch in January,'” Goldman told me. “There are 400 things that Apple wants to do, but they can only do four in the time allowed, so they have got to decide what feature set is going to ship with Version 1. And they usually do a pretty good of getting a product to market with enough features for the Apple fanboys and the early adopters to want the thing. But you have to know that someone in Cupertino has got the roadmap for this product pretty much planned out. What they do is, they listen to customers, and they are really good at aggregating that customer feedback and working it into the roadmap, and that’s how they create versions 2 and 3 and 4 and 5.”

But Apple has already gathered the most important piece of customer feedback: that people love touch-based computing. That’s why the 2nd-generation iPod (the one where the capacitive track wheel replaced the moving scroll wheel) eventually evolved into the iPhone, and that’s why the iPhone has now evolved into the iPad. And no matter how many new features the company adds to the iPad in the future, that magical screen will still have the starring role.

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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