Apple tablet proves detractors wrong

Vidya Ram London | Updated on March 04, 2011 Published on March 03, 2011

Apple iPad2. (file photo)

Apple iPad2. (file photo)

Its a cold morning in central London but crowds inside Apple's two-floorstore on Regent Street are already beginning to build.

Though advertising for the new iPad2 “due to be released in London on March 25” is yet to go up, the excitement about Wednesday's launch was palpable.

“I want one for my birthday,” enthused James, 23, a visitor from the US who says he's never owned an Apple product before. Jane, a 33-year-old marketing executive says she will certainly be buying one once she's done with her current mini-laptop.

Jane's reaction is typical: the iconic Apple tablet has proven its detractors wrong, drumming out of nowhere demand for a device that lies somewhere between a laptop and a smartphone.

Huge appeal

Such is the appeal that research firm Gartner is lowering its 2011 and 2012 forecasts for PC sales globally by 15.9 per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively, citing growing enthusiasm for mobile PC alternatives, such as the iPad and other media tablets.

The tablets are likely to become people's primary personal mobile device, while in the professional world, media tablets are being considered as PC substitutes, says Gartner.

The year 2010, was the year of the iPad, enthused Mr Steve Jobs, who made a surprise appearance at the launch of the updated iPad2 on Wednesday, as the company seeks to maintain dominance in the burgeoning tablet market.

Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion, HP and HTC are all entering the tablet market leading Mr Jobs to refer to 2011 jokingly as the year of the copycat.

New device

Mr Jobs described the new iPad as a completely new device: a third thinner and 0.2 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and replete with front and back facing cameras to work with Apple's FaceTime video conferencing facility, and a gyroscope.

The redesigned dual core A5 chip will mean the device processes data twice as fast as the original, and graphics up to 9 times faster.

A new iOS 4.3 mobile operating system will improve Safari speed on the device, as well as enable iTunes Homesharing, which allows iTunes films, and music to be streamed wirelessly to the device.

The mute switch on the tablet's side can also be set to lock the screen rotation a handy change for those reading books online. The company has also gone for a completely new cover which, thanks to a magnet, can be snapped onto the device, and either awake or put it to sleep.

Two new applications iMovies and GarageBand show off the device's touch sensitivity, with users able to strum a virtual guitar on the screen, varying the sound level with their touch.

Will these changes be enough to ensure Apple maintains its dominance? For now the answer is almost certainly yes, according to analysts. Adam Leach at Ovum predicts that Google's platform which is being used by some of the device makers will lag behind Apple till 2015.

By then Google platforms would have a 36 per cent market share of an estimated 150 million devices, to Apple's 35 per cent.

Sarah Rotman Epp's over at Forrester predicts that Apple will sell 20 million iPads in the US alone this year, with an 80 per cent market share. While rivals may be technically sound, pricing and the lack of the kind of service support offered at Apple means they will lag behind, Rotman Epps predicts.

Sale details

The iPad 2 will go on sale in the US from March 11, alongside the new apps, and software updates, and in another 26 countries on March 25. No date has yet been set for an India launch. The new iPad will be priced the same as the original, with six options ranging from $499 to $829.

Published on March 03, 2011
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