How long should a tablet be supported for?

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Tablets are billed as “post-PC” products designed to replace the job of a PC for most people. The argument goes, most people don’t need a truck (a PC) and instead they just want a small car. True as that may be, I see a problem when the car only gets supported by the manufacture for 2 years. That’s the case with the original iPad. According to Apple, iOS 6 will not run on the iPad 1 which was released in 2010. Buy not having the latest operating system, this means the latest security updates will not be available, nor will the latest developer APIs. Many of Apple’s own apps (such as the Pages) will likely be updated, and these updates will only support iOS6 (this was the case when iOS 5 was released). Will the file formats be compatible? Let’s hope so. The same will probably happen with a lot of 3rd party applications. It also means the new OS features such as shared photo streams and Facebook integration wont be available.

Yes this is a fast moving industry, and yes the iPad 1 was woefully underpowered (especially when it comes to lack of RAM, the version of iOS it came with didn’t support multitasking remember) and you might argue the that iPad 1 is a special case, as it was mostly purchased by early adapters who will probably be running the latest model of iPad by now. I can also see how Apple might not want developers to hold back their software to ensure it works on the older hardware – iPhoto doesn’t run on it today.

That said, I really think Apple should be sending the message to consumers that their tablet will be relevant in at least 2 years time (you would expect a laptop to be). If they can continue to support the iPhone 3GS (released roughly 6 months before the iPad in 2009) then why not iPad? 

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