Has Apple panicked by prematurely pushing out the iPad 4?
Things got interesting at the Apple launch event when Phil Schiller, VP of marketing at Apple decided to fire some verbal shots at Google.
It seemed as if Shiller was following instructions written by Steve Jobs, as the VP took every chance he could to take pot shots at Android, which he dubbed "the other platform". Although he did stop short of going thermonuclear on Android, the message was clear - Apple is still ahead.
During the unveiling of the iPad mini, Schiller couldn't resist rubbing in Apple's success.
"Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and failed miserably. They're not great experiences," he said.
After reeling off a few specs about the iPad mini, and soaking up the inevitable applause, he proceeded to contrast 7.9in device directly against the Google Nexus 7, which to-date may be the best pound-for-pound tablet on the market.
Apple increasingly looks like a cyclist who made an early breakaway in the Tour de France, whereas Google is leading the pelaton, hunting down its prey, eager to gobble it up.
Schiller made some valid factual points during his brief comparison. The iPad mini is "thinner and lighter" than the Nexus, despite being bigger. The display on mini has a surface area which is 35 per cent larger and it has 275,000 apps specifically designed use on the 7.9in screen.
The iPad doesn't just use “phone applications stretched up", he added.
Of course Schiller neglected to compare Apple Maps with Google Maps, skipped Apple’s shunning of industry standards such as micro-USB ports and micro SD card slots, and of course made no mention of the price difference between the devices (£110).
So what’s the big deal about the Google-bashing? Well Schiller could have just inadvertently set off a chain of events which is likely to come back and bite Apple right in the you-know-what.
Google is having a bad month, there's no doubt. Trading of shares had to be suspended when poor Q3 results leaked out and revealed net income dropped by 20 per cent. But make no mistake, having a flagship product shown as being “inferior” at a competitor's press conference is likely to have irked Google employees just as much.
And that's good because it's just the wake up call Googlers need. People throughout the company ranging from engineers to executives are likely to have gone in to work today, talked about Schiller's performance, and got back to work to silence him.
It's not all bad news for Google either. Sure Apple has sold iPads by the bucket load - 100 million to be specific - but each refresh leaves you thinking "is that it?", rather than "wow, I need that in my life".
Case in point, the announcement of the 4th generation iPad was surprising, not because it was kept secret, but because it was premature. It's barely been seven months since the iPad 3 was launched and the upgrades to the latest device including the new A6 processor, faster LTE and the introduction of the Lightning connector simply aren't must have upgrades.
The pricing of the iPad mini is also baffling - £269 is expensive for an entry level device, especially when competing products are starting at £159. Sales figures for the mini will reveal just how tight Apple's grip in the tablet market is.
Cupertino increasingly reminds me of a cyclist who made an early breakaway in the Tour de France, catching everyone off guard. Whereas Google is leading the pelaton, hunting down its prey, eager to gobble it up.
Microsoft is finally entering the tablet market too, and Amazon which is also at the forefront of this chasing pack has already proved that people are willing to buy tablets other than just the iPad. The online retailer has done this by offering users access to a vast ecosystem of books, musics, TV shows and movies to accompany the device.
It's the ecosystem which Google needs to work on the most to attract tablet users. The Nexus 7 is a great device, but the Google Play Store is sorely lacking when it comes to multimedia content, especially in the UK. It wouldn't harm to beef up security either, but Google doesn't need me to tell it that.
For now Apple may have the advantage, but we imagine Larry Page sitting in his office stroking a cat whilst meticulously detailing a seven point plan for revenge. It’s not a question of if Google will strike back, but when. The tablet war has only just begun.