With the iPad 3, Apple is taking a bite out of itself

Is the technology news industry really doing it again? As Apple made its latest iPad available – a slightly refined iPad 2 with a well-received, high definition retina display – the technology press mostly frothed feverishly at the mouth describing punters who would trample over their own grandmothers to be among the first to pay through the nose for the tablet.

Although one of the red-top online magazines pointed out only a few die hard Apple nerds bothered to head down to its flagship Regent Street shop in London this morning, elsewhere the web has been peppered with articles practically weeping for the poor souls who won’t be able to get one because the demand is too high.

But is the demand really too high? Aside from the usual carefully-selected seatfillers Apple put in front of new CEO Tim Cook, much of the real world reacted with apathy. The hype machine well and truly built up Apple’s latest tablet as if it was going to be the Second Coming of Jobs.

Aside from the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg predictively cooing over the machine – comparing its screen to getting a “new pair of eye glasses” – the machine is almost the same as the iPad 2. Is it really worth an upgrade? The iPad 2 was worth an upgrade because the hardware was a significant leap from the original iPad. Overall it was more sleek, stylish, powerful, and less cumbersome than its predecessor. The suckers among the cultish Apple faithful who buy this new machine will only be able to bang on about its screen for so long.

Just like with other releases, a cynic – or a realist – would suggest that Apple very carefully controls the stock of its products and drip feeds its supply into the public domain. This creates artificial demand, in turn making the product seem more desirable than it, well, is. It could well be that the shiny gadgets are beginning to lose their shine.

Rome didn’t fall in a day, and neither will Apple, if it falls at all. It needs to, at the very least, be seen as innovating. Cupertino might come to realise that its famous reality distortion field was powered solely by the charisma and effortless sales pitches of late CEO Steve Jobs.