Let me begin with a disclaimer—I am fully aware that I am not as knowledgeable as the people that work at Apple. I am in no place to label the decisions made by one of the biggest technology firms in the world as mistakes. I am merely a (high school) fan trying to make sense of their decisions from the outside looking in. That being said.... For the past few days, I've been mulling over the Apple event (and the chatter around it). Specifically, what's really been on my mind is the iPad lineup with the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display.
The iPad minis make sense, with Apple keeping the old mini and adding the new one. However, the full-sized iPads have been treated strangely by Apple. The company did not keep the fourth generation iPad or even the third, often forgotten, generation. No, Apple kept the iPad 2. The second generation iPad. Why? From what I did understand from the keynote, Apple kept the iPad 2 around to give users the large iPad experience for a relatively low(er) price. The only storage option is 16GB, which is $100 less than the new iPad Air. Looking at the differences between the iPad 2 and the fourth generation iPad (which sports a retina display), I believe the difference there is worth the extra $100. I'm not going to pretend like I know the best pricing options for the tablets, but there have been three iterations of retina tablets, and yet there is still only one being sold by Apple. I personally am not a fan of this.
Furthermore—and maybe more importantly—a big question circling around tech sites is whether Apple is a "premium brand" anymore. To me, the answer is yes. They still sell quality products people really want to buy. From a pricing standpoint, $400 for a tablet is still more than most other tablets with similar features, so it is priced at a premium. But honestly, the question remains: Is Apple really a premium brand or just a more expensive option? It is not widely accepted that Apple is more expensive because they are better; quite a few people find Android to be superior to Apple. And while, yes, the company seems to be trying to reach a broader audience, they have never really claimed to be a "premium" brand like Mercedes or BMW. Apple wants to make beautiful, functional devices, as evidenced in Tim Cook's statement, "We are not in the junk business." The fact that those devices can be appreciated by a larger market at a lower price point is just an added benefit.
I suppose that no one really knows (except for Apple) why the iPad 2 is still around—and frankly, that's okay. The fact of the matter is that Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world and will make decisions that may leave us scratching our heads. I have attempted in the past to guess the reasons behind their decisions, with mixed results. We will see in the future if the company's choices were correct. I sure wouldn't bet against them.