Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to unveil the new iPad 5 and iPad Mini on Oct. 22 at an invitation-only event. All eyes will be watching the features of both new tablets, looking for a sign that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is still ahead of the curve. But ZDNET’s Andrew Nusca picked up on something very interesting which Steve Jobs told Newsweek back in 2004.


Is Apple becoming “mediocre”?

At that time, Jobs said Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) had made a critical mistake in the late 1980s. He said the company “should have gone for market share,” but “they went for profits.” He noted that the company he co-founded did indeed make “obscene profits for several years,” because it enjoyed a monopoly on the Mac user interface. He intimated that there’s a danger when a company enjoys a monopoly because it focuses less on innovation and more on protecting its turf.

Jobs said that over time, Apple’s products “became mediocre,” and Windows 95 ended their monopoly. He said it happened because “sales guys” were running the company and then poked fun of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), calling CEO Steve Ballmer “a sales guy.”

Looking at the trend of Apple’s products

Nusca notes that the same year Jobs stepped down at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) because of his health, the iPhone’s market share peaked. The company had 24 percent of the market at that time according to Gartner. The following year it fell to 21 percent, and then two years later, it fell again to 14 percent. Even some of the company’s biggest fans started questioning whether the iPhone had lost its edge.

So when Apple reveals the fresh iPads, how will the markets accept them? Will the launch be as successful as the launch of the iPhone 5S and 5C? The company said a new record for launch weekend this year, and the complete overhaul of iOS 7 could be part of what’s driving sales.

Will Apple’s iPad fall?

In 2011 Gartner predicted that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) would dominate the tablet market through next year, although now IDC suggests that the iPad will fall to Android by the end of this year. So if Steve Jobs was still alive, would he call the new iPads “mediocre”?

But well-known tech blogger John Gruber said these new iPads aren’t about “raw market share.” He suggests that they are about “keeping the pedal to the metal on design and quality.” Gruber notes that the tablet market is still growing and that the mobile market as a whole is already larger than the PC market ever was. So if Apple is able to keep leading its rivals in design and quality, then it should be able to maintain its dominance.

But can it? In a few weeks we’ll see if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is able to follow up the successful launch of its two new iPhones with a record breaking tablet launch.