It’s pretty rare in prerelease speculation that the blogs get the specs of a new device right, but get the new devices name wrong. But such is the case of the new iPad. Not the iPad HD. Not the iPad 3. Just iPad. Makes sense though if you think about it. We don’t have MacBook Pro HDs, or iPod Touch 3s. I suspect the next iPhone will probably be called just iPhone as well.
As to the new device itself, it falls in line with predictions. Retina display. 4G LTE. New graphics chip to handle the extra resolution. New iSight camera with 5MP and 1080p recording. Just about every internal component has been upgraded.
Curiously, the one component that hasn’t been upgraded – the FaceTime camera – could have really improved the FaceTime experience if it had been upgraded to take advantage of the new resolution. As someone who FaceTimes regularly with family, it’s an improvement I would have welcomed. But I’m quibbling. This is a huge upgrade. Anyone who tries to paint this as a disappointment is being disingenuous.
Each iPad iteration brings more software to the platform that allows the iPad to be used for real world tasks. With this upgrade, Apple rolled out iPhoto. In true Apple fashion, it is a beautiful reimaging of the software used to organize and edit photos. With the improved screen, the iPad has the potential to become the travelling photographers tool of choice for in the field proofing, editing and sharing.
If you’ve been scouring your city looking for an iPad 2, salvation may have just come from the most unlikely of sources. Radio Shack has confirmed that about 500 of their stores (although they won’t confirm which ones) are set to get stock of the iPad 2 tomorrow.
If the Shack is in your neighborhood, and you’ve been trying to land an iPad, this might be your best opportunity.
I was in my local Best Buy yestereday checking out the new iPad 2. I had seen them briefly in the Apple Store the previous week, but I wanted to get a few minutes of hands on time, and the Best Buy was right there.
While I was playing with one of the two display units, a Best Buy salesman was answering a woman’s questions (badly) about the iPad 2. “How many books can it hold?”. “How much music?”. “Can I get by with the 16GB version?”. The salesman was obviously trying to steer her towards the 32GB version. I interjected and asked her how many movies, music and books she had in her iTunes library. She answered that she had no movies, a few albums, and a couple of eBooks. I explained to her that the 16GB would probably be enough for her. She was sold. Unfortunately, Best Buy, like every other retailer, doesn’t have any stock of the iPad 2 at the moment, and doesn’t know when they will receive any. The salesman made a feable attempt to recommend the Motorola XOOM, but the woman was more interested in getting the original iPad.
I walked over to the Motorola XOOM display to see what the fuss was about. Unfortunatley, the unit was non functional. It was rigged up to work, but either the battery had died, or it wasn’t plugged up correctly. Either way, I found it a little ironic.
Remember in the 90′s when Best Buy carried Macs, and they were usually in a sad state of display? Most of the time they were turned off, and relegated to some row where no one would ever go. It was clear back then that Best Buy had little interest in trying to sell them.
This is the same impression I got about the XOOM. How bad is the XOOM that the sales geeks don’t even bother to have a working display unit? How sad is it that even though the iPad 2 is near impossible to get ahold of, it and the original iPad is still beating the XOOM?
I don’t know how long Apple will have a near lock on the tablet industry, but I don’t see Android eating Apple’s lunch anyime soon. HP has a shot with webOS tablets, if they execute properly on experience, ecosystem, and price. But that is really what the challenge is for someone getting in to the tablet space: You have to have all three bases covered if you want to compete seriously with Apple.
Price is difficult enough, since Apple buys components in quantities larger than most others, and gets the better discounts. Experience is something Google has just started taking seriously, yet with Honeycomb, the consensus is that it still is a disappointing experience. Ecosystem (apps and accessories) is the toughest nut to crack, mainly because you can’t will thousands of developers to create apps for your device. All you can do is create compelling tools, a vibrant sales channel and large user base, and hope that the developers bring their A game to write apps for your device.
I don’t belive Apple will have the tablet market to themself forever, but I don’t see anybody shipping anything this year that has all three legs (experience, ecosystem, price) of the formula.
Jeff Lamarche nails it:
Two days ago, the Xoom looked like a decent, almost finished and slightly overpriced tablet. Two days ago, it had a couple of quantifiable advantages, including native CDMA support and a better GPU. Two days ago, you could make the Xoom look better than the iPad on paper. Though marketing based on tech specs hasn’t proven to be a very effective strategy in mobile computing space, at least they did have that for them. They had grounds for claiming you should buy the Xoom instead of an iPad. The arguments were thin, but two days ago they existed.
Today, simply put: The Xoom is fucked. So, I suspect, is the unreleased Samsung Tab 10.1 and the RIM Playbook. I can only imagine the discussions that are going on inside those companies today.
What strikes me as comical is that these companies must have known that the product they were releasing was any better than Apple’s product from 2010, and Apple would have something even better lined up for 2011.
I’m hoping for a true competitor to the iPad, because competition is good for everyone, including Apple. But right now all the tablet manufacturers look like the keystone cops.
The iPad 2 looks like a solid upgrade over the previous generation iPad. Apple has addressed many of the shortcomings of the previous iPad – weight, width, lack of cameras. I understand the resistance to putting a capable iPhone level camera in the iPad’s back facing position, but I had hoped for something a little higher res than VGA on the front facing camera. Still, dual cameras are a very welcome addition, and with FaceTime and iMovie for iPad, it should become an incredibly useful tool for video conferencing and movie editing.
The internals upgrade isn’t a slouch either. The dual core A5 with improved graphics performance looks to give the iPad 2 plenty of horsepower for games and other intensive computational calculations. The (rumored) 512MB of RAM is a bit of a disappointment though. Using smaller RAM modules must be one of the main ways that Apple keeps the cost down on the iPad (the previous iPad had only 256MB of RAM). I’ll be interested to see if the increase in RAM translates in to being able to keep more windows active in Safari. The 9 window Safari limitation on the previous iPad was frustrating at times.
As someone who bought the first iPad and used it for a couple of months before selling it, I’m asking myself if I see enough in the iPad 2 to purchase. My problem with the first iPad was that I had a hard time finding a place for it in my day to day usage. It was too locked down to be used as a development machine. And with two laptops in the house (one shared between my wife and I, and one as my main work machine), and an iPhone, it felt like overkill. I don’t know that the new iPad has changed anything in that regard for me. I’d like one, I just don’t know how practical it would be for me to own.