Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

With iPad 2, Apple Extends Its Lead

Relatively minor upgrades still leave the iPad out in front of rivals.

  • March 2, 2011

Just 11 months after the iPad created a new category of computer, the iPad 2 is here. It’s thinner, faster, and packs more battery power than its predecessor–or any competitor. It also packs two cameras for shooting video, photos, or for video conferencing.

The new model doesn’t bring any major new technology, though, which left more time in Steve Jobs’ presentation than usual for pointing out that competing tablets are still way off the pace.

He laughed at Samsung’s Galaxy Tab – reviewed here – that debuted last year: “A lot of these were probably on the shelf by the end of the year.” And he declared that the latest crop of tablets, mostly powered by Google’s tablet-ized version of Android, “haven’t even caught up with the first iPad.”

Jobs claimed that most iPad rivals are still thicker than the original iPad (9.3mm), while the iPad 2 is a third thinner (8.8mm). He pointed out that five of the six iPad 2 models are cheaper than the most credible competitor, the Motorola Xoom that is the the flagship for Google’s version of Android and costs $799. He sounded incredulous while explaining that just 16 apps have been designed for the tablet-ized version of Android, compared to 65,000 designed for the iPad.

It all adds up to news that offers more to industry analysts than tech-loving consumers. Sure, the iPad 2 feels lighter and a little more responsive when multitasking and it has cameras, but if you’ve used an iPad before you’ll notice little different. Tablet fans looking for some more exciting changes currently have to rest their hopes in far-from-solid rumors that iPad 3, supposedly out later this year, will feature major design and technology changes.

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