Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Apple releases the iPad 2

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad 2 and boxed in the competition for potentially the next two product cycles. The iPad got two cameras, dropped some girth and introduced some snazzy new covers. Missing from the equation was a USB port and a new display. But, adding all up the moving parts, Jobs had every right to be cocky and kick around the competition, notably Android, Samsung, Motorola and RIM. And I guess, you could argue that Jobs lowered himself by calling out rivals by name, but the message was received: Apple just ensured that the other tablets are dead on arrival.
“We think 2011 is going to be the year of the iPad 2,”
                                                                   - Steve Jobs.
Apple statements on iPad 2, iOS 4.3, our live analysis, Gallery, iPad 2 specs, 33 percent thinner, all incoming on Apple and iPad 2. Thus, iPad 2 may be more 1.5 to some folks, but it’s more than enough to put the rivals to rest. Here's why, most tablets aren’t going to hit the market before the iPad 2 launches. The iPad 2 will hit the U.S. market March 11 and global markets March 26. The iPad 2 “will be everywhere,” said Jobs. That fact means it’s going to be very hard for rivals to come close to competing with Apple. Therefore, Apple’s iPad 2 will hit stores before rivals, as simple as that. Most of the performance talk from Android rivals will be negated. Apple left just enough features out of the iPad 2 to convince some folks that iPad 3 will be coming later. The difference between iPad 2 and iPad 3 is enough to convince most consumers to freeze thoughts of other tablets. Consumers may go Apple now or wait for the iPad 3 later. Making Apple wins either way.

Here’s the fallout:
Motorola Xoom: Jobs made a point to note that Apple only had one model over $799. That quip could have been directly addressed to Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha. The big bet for Motorola is that 4G—something lacking on the iPad—will be enough to woo business users. On the floors of Best Buy, iPad 2 is likely to win the day hands down. The Xoom will have to come down in price quickly. The Xoom has its merits, but it will be tough to unseat Apple.

Samsung and the Android army: These Honeycomb Android tablets will have their merits, but they will have to compete on price. The commoditization of Android tablets will be fast and furious. It’s unlikely that Samsung or others can win that game with Apple owning the supply chain.

Research in Motion: If Apple didn’t announce the iPad 2, there would be significant questions about RIM’s PlayBook. As Perlow noted, battery life, thermal management, the software and email tethering are all question marks. And oh yeah, RIM doesn’t have a price tag either. Advantage Apple.

Hewlett-Packard: HP showed off its WebOS tablet and got into the game. The problem is that we don’t know when HP’s tablet is coming or the price. Toss in the fact that the app situation is unclear and you have no reason to pause a purchase to see what HP cooks up.


iPad vs. iPad 2
A lot of people are asking me for a rundown of the differences between the original iPad and the new iPad 2 unveiled yesterday. Here’s a glimpse rundown of what’s changed, and what hasn’t changed.

Dimensions - CHANGED (slightly)
While the overall footprint of the iPad 2 is the same as that of the iPad, the thickness has gone down from 13.4mm to 8.8mm. The weight is also down for all models (WiFi model down from 680g to 601g while the WiFi + 3G is down from 730g to 613g for the AT&T model and 607g for the Verizon model.

No change here - The iPad 2 makes use of the same 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS 1024 x 768 screen as the original iPad. At this point one unknown relating to the screen is what graphics processor Apple has used. The original iPad used a PowerVR SGX 535 chip. We’ll have to wait for the teardowns to find this out.

Processor - UPDATED
Out with the old 1GHz single-core A4 chip, and in with a dual-core 1GHz A5 chip. The original A4 featured 256MB of RAM while the iPhone 4 has 512MB. Again, we’re going to have to wait for the teardowns to appear to know if this has changed.

The options for storage remain the same - 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

Radios - UPDATED
While WiFi and Bluetooth ramain the same (802.11 a/b/g/n and 2.1 + EDR respectively) the cell radio in the updated ipad has been updated. The original iPad featured EDGE plus triband HSPA while the iPad 2 features EDGE plus quadband UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz) and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) for the AT&T versions and CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz) for the Verizon model.

The price remains unchanged for all models - iPad 2 starts at $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only model.

New features
There are a few features completely new to the iPad 2. Here’s a rundown:

Front-facing VGA camera

Rear-facing 720p camera


New case (optional) that is attached by magnets (how DO they work? ;) and features a microfibre surface.

HDMI output dongle (optional).

Apple simply forced the hand of tablet rivals. Jobs somehow rules again, in the field that he has done his "magic" wisely. It might too early to say this but I guess I have to agree, 2011 is the year of the Apple's iPad tablet line.

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