Apple Gears Up for iPad 2 Release?

From Apple's point of view it might be the worst-case scenario in one sense, but most companies would kill for the free buzz the iPad maker is generating.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) loves to spring surprise announcements of closely guarded new product releases, but there aren't likely to be many curveballs at a media event Apple has planned for March 2. Numerous reports on the Web have already detailed what features are likely to be included in a revamped iPad that is widely expected to be unveiled at the event. Apple also reportedly has new MacBook Pro laptops in the works.

The invitation provides few details other than a line on a mock calendar page opened to March 2 that reads: "Come see what 2011 will be the year of."

Well, 2010 saw Apple create a mass market for tablets with its iPad, and with competitors scrambling to bring out similar devices of their own, 2011 is already shaping up as the year of the tablet. The iPad 2, or whatever Apple calls it (that could be one surprise), is expected to be thinner than the current model, with a brighter, LCD backlit display and a front-facing camera that will enable such applications as Facetime video chat sessions.

If the event is centered on Apple's new tablet, certain currently unknown key details, such as pricing and what carrier networks will be available, will be newsworthy.

Earlier today, ABI Research issued its latest report on mobile devices, including media tablets, which confirmed Apple's dominance. ABI said 4.5 million tablets shipped in the fourth quarter of 2010 and 93 percent of those were iPads.

"Over time, Apple's first-to-market iPad advantage will inevitably erode to some extent," ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement. But if Apple brings out a new iPad as expected, it will be a second-generation device that could overshadow the debut of highly-touted products like Research in Motion's Playbook due out soon and HP's webOS-based TouchPad, which is not expected out till later this summer.

Apple shareholders vote on CEO succession plan

Separately, Apple shareholders today rejected a proposal that would require the company to disclose its CEO succession plans. Succession has been a hot button issue amid CEO Steve Jobs' ongoing health problems. The Apple co-founder is currently on medical leave for indeterminate period of time.

Although many companies don't have a formal CEO succession plan, Apple said in a regulatory filing in January that it does have a plan in place. The company said it prefers to keep the details private to keep executives not picked from bolting to other firms or be pursued by competitors.

In a separate vote, Apple shareholders voted in favor of a requirement that the company adopt majority-voting for unopposed board directors.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


iPad, Apple, steve jobs, tablets, shareholders