Dana Levine’s article, “Why everyone loves the iPad mini (even though the screen sucks)”, makes a point I hadn’t thought about: that the Retina display isn’t a disruptive technology:
… they are a nice-to-have, but not really disruptive to what we already have. When you look at disruptive technologies (as defined in The Innovator’s Dilemma), they typically enable use cases that their predecessors didn’t (such as allowing devices to be smaller or lighter). There isn’t actually any new use case that a retina display enables, other than being prettier. It’s not like visible pixels in any way diminish the functional experience.
I think Levine is right. As awesome as Retina displays are, they don’t fundamentally change the usability or use-case scenarios of the iPad. It’s crazy to think that a bitmapped screen displaying pixels at a density rivaling print, is, in a way, nothing more than an iterative step in the evolution of hardware.