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The New iPad Is Making The Internet Slower

The internet is about to get a lot fatter. Welcome to the trifurcated web.

Posted on March 26, 2012, at 3:07 p.m. ET

Most popular websites have a main version, which is designed to work on most laptop, desktop and tablet screens, and a mobile version, designed for smartphones. Now they're going to need a third: a Retina edition.

Thousands of companies are no doubt trying to figure out the best way to upgrade their websites for the new iPad's super-high-res screen, and Apple is leading by example. Judging by the new the future is kludgy.

And fat! The Retina version of Apple's website, which will only be served to new iPads, is about four times heavier than the regular one. The iPad's 4G connection is much faster than the previous iPads' 3G connection, so if you're out of the house and in a good coverage area you may not notice the difference. But over regular Wi-Fi, two megabytes will download noticeably more slowly than 500 kilobytes. One is instant; the other isn't. It doesn't help the US broadband speeds aren't increasing very quickly.

The NYT reports that a lot of sites aren't planning to switch yet, but it's only a matter of time. I've been living with the new iPad for about a week now, and it's clear that most sites are going to have to change the way they handle and serve images, at least a little — it's not going to be optional, unless these sites consider looking terrible an option.

In other words, the new iPad is going to change the internet in a major way: it's going to make it slower.