iPad 2: Will the ‘magic’ live on?

By Krista Napier

On March 2nd, Steve Jobs announced Apple’s latest gadget, the iPad 2.  The street date for Canada is March 25.

Krista Napier

When the first iPad launched last year, Jobs described it as “magical”. So does that label apply to the iPad 2? It’s always a tough act to follow the wonderment of the first born child. In this case, iPad 2 has some incremental features and functionality that set it apart from the first version, including:

  • Rear facing HD camera, and front facing VGA camera
  • 33 per cent thinner 8.8mm (13.4mm)
  • 15 per cent lighter: 1.3 pounds (vs. 1.5 pounds)
  • Two colours – black and white
  • Up to 2x faster CPU and up to 9x faster graphics
  • Dual core processors
  • 3-axis gyroscopes (aids in gesture-based actions, navigation and gaming)
  • Running iOS 4.3

These features will also help the iPad 2 remain competitive with the competition that will be in the market in 2011, and will have many features and functions that were missing in the first iPad. Samsung, Motorola, RIM, and others  are not in the market yet, but have been announced and expected to launch in 2011.

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Although bleeding edge adopters bought their iPad’s not even 1 year ago (iPad was first available in Canada end of May, 2010) some may still pass on their existing ‘old’ technology to kids – parents or friends and opt for the latest and greatest.  Other early adopters may put off purchasing a new iPad so soon, and wait for the iPad 3, for which rumors have already begun. Why? iPad 2 may not have enough of the “magic” for some existing iPad owners to upgrade just yet. The iOS upgrade that was made available recently could provide enough added functionality such as multitasking to hold off until the 3rd version of iPad. And while the devices are affordable at a starting price of CAN$549, they still put a dent in the wallet.

So how will Apple succeed with iPad 2? By continuing to build on its economies of scale that it holds over other vendors in the market.  Apple’s brand and loyal following of customers will also help drive sales, but arguably the most important factor longer term will be its ecosystem – the community of developers and hence, the 350,000 plus apps it has available to run on its mobile devices and over 65,000 native apps for iPad, increasing its value to the end user.

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There is room for competition for those vendors focused on niche markets. RIM is well positioned to win the hearts of business users in Canada who are already invested in BlackBerry devices, and trust the security inherent in RIM’s devices and brand name. Apple’s iPad2 does not support flash either, impacting the user experience while Web browsing, and opening the door for competitors. There were also some issues with iPads being returned recently due to the touch screens acting up. Customers may dismiss that as part of the bleeding edge experience and working out the bugs, or it could impact their next media tablet selection. As for the old inventory, it’s expected to come down in price to help clear shelves, while the new devices will maintain the same price structure as before.

iPad 2’s incremental features will help keep the momentum going and drive continued adoption and mindshare among early adopters and the mainstream alike… at least until Apple comes out with another magical surprise. Abracadabra!

Krista Napier, is an IDC Canada senior analyst specializing in Canadian emerging technology

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