There are those who argue that Apple will create something brand new that will make a sigificant part of the world buy new iPads, even if they already own them. That's certainly possible. But Apple has a consistent history of making such breakthroughs in new areas, more than reinventing existing product lines in "the world is new again" ways. It can happen, of course -- the original iMac and the original MacBook Air are good examples -- but even that doesn't have the same impact as a new product domain, as we saw with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Apple also seems to be going through a deeper change. It reminds me of what Apple did when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997. Apple fixed the tech mess that the Mac platform had become, but it also created the iPod and dropped the word "Computer" from the company's legal name. That "Apple 2.0" presaged a shift away from computers to first media devices, then to the constellation of personal devices and services we now have: iTunes, the underestimated Apple TV, the iPhone, the iPad, and -- oh, yes -- the Mac.
Apple's been spending a lot of effort in mission-changing areas, such as iBeacons, CarPlay, payments, endpoint and app security and management, and apparently, health technology. Apple is good at creating synergy among its various generations, which makes it easier for its customers to stay on the ride. But I believe more and more that the slowdown in the iPad is coming just when Apple predicted, and it's no coincidence that other, seemingly tangential areas are starting to bubble up to our attention.
I'm not sure what Apple is up to, but the common thread is making devices of all sorts actionably smart for users, not the scientific orientation of big data analytics or the spammy orientation of many Internet of things efforts.
Of course, you never really know with Apple -- maybe the iOS 8 expected to be announced in June or the putative iPhone 6 and new iPad expected to be announced in September will reinvent the iPad (and iPhone). Even if it does, I still believe that the real game plan is to create "Apple 3.0," whose shape we barely have a glimmer of today.
Apple will certainly develop and milk the iPad for years to come, as it still does the Mac, but I don't think the iPad will be its core business five years from now. Remember: Five years ago, Apple relied on the iPod, now just a footnote in its product line.
This article, "The iPad is so over, even Apple seems to be moving on," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.