Well, Apple’s “iPad-related” event really did produce an iPad 2 unveiling. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was that Steve Jobs presided over the announcement. The company’s stock spiked two points at the very moment that Jobs took the stage.
According to a live blog of the event posted on technology site Engadget, Jobs said he “just couldn’t miss this one.”
Jobs opened with a few shots at competitors, noting that Apple’s App Store now features 65,000 apps for the iPad, whereas Google’s Android Market only features 100 apps optimized for the company’s tablet OS, Honeycomb.
Jobs said that the iPad had proved itself a “magical” device, citing 15 million devices sold in the nine months between April and December of last year, which he said accounted for 90 percent market share. He called 2010 “The Year of the iPad” and joked that 2011 is shaping up to be “The Year of the Copycats.”
Copycats or not, the iPad had some catching up to do as other major OEMs stepped in this year at CES with viable competitors to Apple’s slate, many of which appeared to out-spec the iPad.
The iPad 2 manages to fill in a few of the holes. The new device includes a dual-core A5 processor, which Jobs called “dramatically faster” than the original iPad’s 1Ghz A4 processor. The iPad 2 is also a much thinner device, coming in at 8.8mm, which is 33 percent thinner than its predecessor. In fact, the iPad 2 is thinner even than the iPhone 4.
The new version also features a gyroscope like the one included in the iPhone 4 and iPod touch.
But perhaps the most highly anticipated features added to the new tablet were front- and rear-facing cameras, which many considered a must for the device to compete with rivals like the BlackBerry Playbook and Motorola Xoom. Apple didn’t give any information, either during the announcement or on the tech specs for the iPad 2 listed on its website, as to the number of megapixels for either of the cameras.
Jobs said that the iPad will ship in two colors, white and black, on March 11. Surprisingly, the iPad 2 maintains the same pricing structure as the original. The iPad 2 will come in Wi-Fi or 3G versions with 16, 32 and 64GB internal storage, starting at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. The original iPad has been discontinued. The iPad 2 will be carried by both Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility.
The company also took time to demonstrate two accessories for the new device. Apple will offer an HDMI out adaptor that runs $39, as well as a special case, which comes in poly or leather for $39 and $69, respectively.
The company demonstrated a pair of newly revamped apps for the iPad 2. iMovie and an 8-track version of Garage Band will be available for $4.99 at the iTunes App Store.
Apple shares were trading at $353 as of 2:35 p.m. Eastern time. The stock opened the day at $350 per share.