While some competitors are just launching their first tablets, Apple Inc. today announced the second version of its iPad, the iPad 2.
The second tablet from Apple isn’t as much of a game changer as the first iPad, but it does deliver on some popular user demands.
In a body that’s one-third thinner than the first iPad and thinner still than the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 will be available beginning March 11 in black or white at a starting price of $499.
Packing Apple’s new A5 dual-core processor, which features a 2x improvement in performance and 9x improvement in graphics, the iPad 2 supports HDMI video output up to 1080p and carries a built-in gyroscope.
Weighing in at 1.3 pounds, slightly less than the original, Apple has three iPad 2 models with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage and with or without 3G compatibility for AT&T Mobility or Verizon Wireless. Prices range from $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only model to as much as $829 for the 64 GB model with 3G connectivity. The device will begin shipping in 26 more countries on March 25.
As the iPad 2 begins to ship, Apple will also release its latest iOS 4.3 as a free download. There’s some question as to whether the recently launched iPhone 4 from Verizon Wireless will have access to this update right away. New features in iOS 4.3 include improvements to AirPlay and iTunes home sharing capability.
With iOS 4.3, Apple will also introduce FaceTime, PhotoBooth, iMovie and GarageBand for the iPad.
In the final nine months of 2010, Apple sold 15 million iPads. And just recently, Apple surpassed 100 million iPhone sales.
CEO Steve Jobs, who is still on medical leave, took the stage right away in San Francisco this morning to big applause as he walked the audience through some of Apple’s latest achievements.
The App Store has paid out more than $2 billion cumulatively to developers, he said, and there are now more than 350,000 apps available with 65,000 specifically available for the iPad.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Apple now has more than 200 million accounts with credit cards and one-click purchasing via iTunes.
In a video posted on Apple’s site, SVP of industrial design Jony Ive said: “I cannot think of a product that has defined a new category, and then redesigned in such a short time.”
As he often does, Jobs took some of Apple’s competitors to task for what he characterized as an inability to compete on technology and price.
“We think we’re on the right track with this,” he said, in closing. “I think we stand a pretty good chance of being competitive in this market.”