Many of you no doubt heard that the new iPad2 was just unveiled. The invitation for the press event made no secret that it was an iPad related announcement (a giant “2” signified the date as well as “iPad2”).
One surprise, however, was the appearance of Steve Jobs mid-sick leave. He started out with some general stats around Apple products that were positioned as the “post PC blockbusters” (iPod, iPhone, iPad). Here are a few numbers announced:
— 100 million iPhones sold
— $2 billion paid to iOS developers
— 200 million iTunes accounts
— 100 million iBooks downloaded
— 65,000 iPad specific apps (compared with 100 apps for Android’s Honeycomb tablet OS)
On to the main event: 2010 was positioned as the year of the iPad. But 2011 so far has been the “year of the copycats,” including HP, Samsung and Android (ouch!). Still, Apple sold 15 million iPads in 2010, accounting for $9.5 billion in revenues and a 90 percent market share.
Now to once again set the bar is the iPad2. The impressive list of new features includes:
— New Design (33 percent thinner)
— 1.3 lbs (compared to 1.5 pound iPad1)
— Comes in black and white body
— Verizon and AT&T models to work on each data network
— Front and back facing cameras for photos and video
— A5 chip (same power consumption as iPad A4 with 10 hour battery life)
— Dual core processor
— 2x faster CPU as iPad1
— 9x faster graphics as 1Pad1
— HDMI video out (unavailable on the iPad1)
— Facetime compatible
— New iMovie and Garageband apps
— Will ship with iOS 4.3 (new also for iPhone 4 including personal hotspot)
— Similar pricing matrix as the iPad1
— Available in the U.S. in 9 days (March 11), and overseas on the 25th
This is a nice list of upgrades and we’ll have lots more to say about many individual points (HDMI output, iOS 4.3 etc.). Still many industry watchers believed this would be an interim refresh — sort of like the iPhone 3Gs was (a new body makes that point arguable).
The idea is that a more significant update will come in this fall’s rumored launch of the iPad3. Today’s updates were conversely to one-up the recent flood of tablets at or before Mobile World Congress — most notably the Motorola Xoom.
But price is a big variable here. In the iPad pricing matrix, 5 of the 6 models are cheaper than the $799 Motorola Xoom. This is huge, in both leapfrogging the feature set of the top Android tablet and also undercutting its price.
Well played: Apple will once make the industry scramble to catch up. The only viable competition will be lower-end Android devices that compete on price (much like the economics of the PC market). But we haven’t quite seen that yet.
Jobs closed the event with a notable quip that caries the theme of Apple’s core vertical integration strategy: Hardware and software built under the same roof (compared to the Windows or Android models).
“The hardware and software need to intertwine more than they do on a PC,” he said “We think we’re on the right path with this.”