Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, unexpectedly emerged from his sick leave to make a case for a new iPad tablet version, faster and lighter than its predecessor, to deny momentum to the myriad of competitors challenging Apple’s dominance on this market. Job’s presence caused a stir because the executive was on an indefinite leave for health reasons. The uncertain future worrying investors was reflected by the company’s shares rising two percent minutes after Jobs stepped on stage.
Welcomed with laud applauses, Jobs wasted no time talking about the principal event: “What is the iPad 2? What have we learned?” He asked. But analysts said the new features of IPAD are predictable and, therefore, Apple failed to present new elements. Instead, he set a waiting period for their release. “It is a completely new design and it is much faster,” said Jobs. “The device uses the new dual-core chip for Apple A5 and has a nine times better graphics performance than the previous model,” he added.
The tablet is available in both WiFi and 3G and will have two cameras, one front and one back for videoconferencing. The device is thinner than the earlier model, roughly one-third inch compared to half-an-inch for its predecessor. It weighs less, about one-and-a-third lb compared to one-and-half lb for the original model. The iPad 2 will be available in the United States on March 11 and in twenty-six other countries after March 25, including Japan Mexico, Germany, Spain and the UK. Pricing in the US market will be the same as current iPad or $499 for the basic model. The most expensive model, which includes a 64GB drive and wi-fi and 3G, will sell for $ 829.
Apple has sold more than fifteen-million iPads after product launching in April last year. But there are other competitors on the market such as Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Samsung. Motorola began selling its Xoom last week and analysts believe it is the first thing close to overshadowing iPad. The firm announced that by year-end, it will bring to the market several tablets of various sizes. Jobs used his ironic wit, highly criticizing what he called “clones” of his product: “When others copy first generation iPad, we launched iPad 2, which raises the bar away from competitions forcing them back to the drawing boards,” he said.
Some experts believe Tablet maker has not differentiated enough. “Is it better? Yes. But is predictable in all? These are things everybody is betting on, including competitors,” said Ezra Gottheil, Technology Business Research. Steven Baker, at NPD research Group said, “The point is everyone will start with the same three or four months.” He adds, “We are where there many similar features in each device, at least for the moment.”
Currently, iPads contributes twenty percent of Apple’s revenue, so the release is a critical move for the company to stay before the competition. “We estimate more than one-hundred million tablets will be sold this year,” said Brian White, of Ticonderoga Securities. “We think Cupertino Company needs convincing users iPad 2 is better than competitors’ plethora of products on the market and persuade iPad buyers, they are updated with new model.”