Steve Jobs was in the house -- and so was the iPad 2.
The Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO took the stage in his trademark uniform of black turtleneck and jeans and did what he always does: unveiled a ground breaking product that industry watchers say will maintain the company's coveted place as top dog in the hearts and minds of many consumers, and now perhaps, enterprise customers too.
The iPad 2 has two video cameras and is 33-percent thinner than its predecessor -- 8.8 mm thick compared to 13.4 and weighing less than the iPhone 4 at 1.3 pounds, has dual-core processors providing twice the CPU speed and nine times the graphics rendering speed. It also supplies 10 hours of battery life, according to the company.
Apple's second-gen tablet will come in white, and ship on the same date, March 11, as the black model, simultaneously on Verizon and AT&T. The iPad 2 will cost $499 for the 16GB model; $599 for 32GB; $699 for 64GB; and the 3G/Wi-Fi version will be $629, $729 and $829, respectively, for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB units.
The refresh of the iPad also comes with an HDMI video out accessory cable that delivers HDMI mirrored video output up to 1080p that works with all apps so anything you see on the iPad screen you see on TV.
Avi Greengart, analyst at CurrentAnalysis
, thinks Apple has solidified its position as market leader in the tablet space for some time. "Apple has given competitors an opening around 4G, and it didn't further pressure them with a lower entry price point, but Apple has three critical advantages: First is brand. When consumers are thinking about tablets, they say they're buying an 'iPad,' not a 'tablet.' The iPad was already the category and volume leader, and the iPad 2 builds on that," Greengart told EnterpriseMobileToday.com
The second critical edge, he said, is iTunes. "The iPad is still the only tablet on the market with a huge digital marketplace for movies, TV shows, and music. Some competitors are taking steps in this direction, (for example, Samsung's Hub), but iTunes remains a significant competitive advantage.
"Third, the App Store. If all you want to do is browse the web and check email, any tablet will probably suffice. But Apple has an enormous lead in purpose-built apps. The Android ecosystem is strong and app availability should improve significantly over time, but the iPad 2 is considerably more versatile than any of its competitors right now, and appears unlikely to lose its lead any time in the near future."
Furthermore, Greengart says Apple has proven that its existing price points work, so it is maintaining margins and following the iPod strategy of offering more functionality and slimmer design for the same price as last year's model.
In terms of the dual-carrier launch, he is less confident of that being a factor fueling further success. "I like that the iPad 2 will be at both AT&T and Verizon Wireless from day one," says Greengart, "but the fact is that most iPads purchased are WiFi-only. I don't think that adding CDMA will be a particularly critical sales driver, but we'll see."
It appears that Jobs also believes that Apple is distancing itself far away from any potential challengers.
Jobs pokes fun at Android, cites scarce mobile apps
"People laughed at us for calling the iPad magical, and said the price was unreasonable, but ask our competitors now if the price is reasonable," Jobs reportedly told the crowd before highlighting details of the iPad 2, according to several live blogcasts.
Jobs then trotted out some impressive stats mixed in with swipes at the competition: 100-millionth iPhone just shipped, 15 million iPads sold in nine months of 2010, $9.5 billion in revenue for Apple in nine months. He then called the original iPad "the most successful consumer product ever launched" and said, "Our competitors were flummoxed."
He also said that there are currently 65,000 iPad apps, while competitors launch with "at most 100" and said that was being generous. Behind him was a large display of the Honeycomb Android mascot, the icon for Google's tablet-optimized mobile OS Android 3.0. A bit later in the presentation, the backdrop displayed: 2011: The year of the copycats?
iOS 4.3 updates also unveiled
The free download of iOS 4.3 will be available March 11, and supports all iPads, and third- and fourth-gen iPod touch models and recent iPhones.
Finally, Apple execs demonstrated the iMovie for iPad and GarageBand for iPad apps.
Android tablets chasing iPad in the enterprise
The news of the iPad 2 comes at a time when the tablet space is undergoing a renaissance, kicked off by the huge success of the first iPad, as competitors scramble to catch up to Apple's lead in the market.
Apple's share of the global tablet market reached 85 percent by the end of 2010, and despite the slew of new tablets from other manufacturers, Apple will still dominate this year, accounting for 78 percent of global tablet sales in 2011, according to estimates by eMarketer's lead mobile analyst Noah Elkin.
But even as Apple is expected to sell 34 million iPads this year, up from 13 million last year, there may be room enough in the sector for all comers. Tablet sales are expected to reach an estimated 43.6 million units worldwide this year, up from just 15.7 million in 2010, according to eMarketer
The favored front-runner in the battle to take on the iPad is the Motorola Xoom, which is one of the many Android-based tablets hitting the market this quarter. And, at least one CEO predicts that the Xoom -- and other Android tablets -- will be fighting it out with the iPad 2 not just with consumers but in the enterprise.
Vineet Jain, CEO of file sync and sharing firm Egnyte
, said he was surprised at the pace of iPad adoption in the workplace. "We did not anticipate how fast and widely the iPad would be adopted with our clients, not only by small businesses that may not have IT departments and so just buy what they want, but by the larger companies, we're amazed at what's happening. In the larger companies, IT is telling us if there's no robust iPad app, it's a deal breaker," he said.
Furthermore, he say Android tablets will soon echo the pattern of the iPad in the workplace. "What's different between the two platforms, is that the iPad and its OS, it's slick, smooth. Android was more designed by engineers for engineers. But I was just playing with a Xoom, and for the first time I felt like, 'Here's something comparable to an iPad.'This was something I'd never seen before, so soon enough we'll all be scrambling to shore up our services with Android apps as well."
Micro mobile trend: tablet apps
What's more, there's lots of money to be made in the tablet app sector. "Tablet devices alone will generate $8.1 billion in global app sales in 2015, up from $300 million in 2010. This is a huge number, but.... it's only a fraction of the total spend on apps when you factor in the cost to develop the apps and reinvent the processes behind the apps," writes Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps