There’s no doubt that you have heard of the iPad 2 launch this morning. While iPad 2 did not generate as much buzz as its predecessor, it is still one of the biggest launches of 2011 (to date, the year is far from over). Later in the day, many people asked me “so what’s new?”, not because they hadn’t seen what was new, but because they thought that they had missed something.
But they did not, there was simply not that many new things: in a nutshell, the iPad 2 is faster, smaller, better — for the same price. This is the quintessential upgrade in a consumer electronics world. Apple has amplified the strengths of the iPad (size, design, user interface) while addressing the most asked-for requests (cameras, performance, bulky cases, wireless playback…).
The pricing of the iPad also remains remarkable. At $499, the WiFi version is still unbelievably challenging for competitors. In simple terms: it’s just really hard for everyone else to design, make and sell a product like this – never mind doing it with good profit. Today, only Apple can do it because their design team takes the right decisions, creates great designs – and can commit to huge volumes.
If you look closely, Apple is already losing the “specifications” battle, but Apple also knows that specifications by themselves won’t sell tablets. The overall user experience (at the right price) does, and Apple still has a significant edge there. Winning the “specs” fight at any cost is bad for business.
It will be very interesting to compare the Motorola Xoom to the iPad 2. The latter will do very well, but this is also the first time that Apple has not clearly leapfrogged the rest of the mobile industry on the day its product came out. Was that a “pause” or a sign that Apple should kick it up a notch? It’s unclear at the moment.
In short, Apple has enough wind to keep the iPad going strong, probably until the end of the year – but it will need to keep an eye on the competition, especially from Google. Apple does not need to leapfrog any other hardware. As long as end-users prefer iOS to Android, things will be fine.