I have one of the original iPads. I got it right before the iPad 2 was released so it was already about a year old. Even so I have enjoyed using it for certain things in the past 18 months. It is certainly showing it’s age though. Apps have become larger and have required more processing power. The latest iPad has 10 times the graphics processing power than my iPad 1 and it shows in certain apps. In fact, the next version iOS won’t even run on my old tablet.
So, we are down to three years use before total obsolescence. This is why you can’t remove the batteries on Apple products. They realized the batteries will last longer than the devices useful lifespan.
On top of that is there are finally some decent competitors on the market. Google has come out with a decent tablet and Microsoft is also in the market. Amazon has their Kindle Fire which is already needing a refresh. It’s a fast paced market. All of this does two things: it increases performance and decreases price. The Google Nexus 7 can do pretty much everything my old iPad can do and yet costs about half the price. This trend will only continue.
What this means for education is more and more students are going to be showing up to class with tablets, smartphones and other devices. Do schools have a plan to use them? How many schools invested in carts of the original iPad and are now at the end of the upgrade road?
Technology moves faster than schools do. An investment in a high speed wifi network in a school with last a lot longer than a cart of tablets.
The article I linked to below is a very nice analysis of the new Google tablet.