iPad 2: Apple does the only sensible thing

iPad 2: Apple does the only sensible thing

So there was no Retina Display, no 3D and no SD card reader. Yes, there was the warm fuzzy feeling of seeing a healthy-looking Steve Jobs back on stage talking about the company he loves, but let's be honest – the iPad 2 is no wonder-tablet.

Yet while the iPad 2 hasn't made enough of a leap forward to be the best tablet around on paper, that doesn't matter. Because Apple has reinforced its position in all the ways it knows its Honeycomb rivals just can't respond to.

We're still clearing our heads from all the wild speculation that was whirring around heading up to yesterday's launch, but as the dust settles one thing is increasingly clear: the iPad 2 will be a huge success, not because of all the bells and whistles on board, but because Apple has aimed it right at the buying consumer.

It's become quite the cliché these days that Android is supposedly for geeks, but the iPad 2 rams that theory home like never before. Apple has reminded us that like it or not, geeks are in the minority and the mainstream sees tablets as lifestyle devices, not big-screened tinkerers' toys.

The combination of a good design which hits all the right marketing notes (“thinner”, “lighter”), a modest power bump, a refreshed OS and a smattering of new features are good enough to keep the iPad 2 aimed right at the consumer sweet spot, especially when coupled with that most important point – affordability.

It would be interesting to know how the strategy of keeping the iPad's price unchanged from generation 1 to 2 came about. It could have been the plan all along, of course, but when you consider that despite near-universal reports of delays the iPad 2 will be rolling out the warehouse doors this very month, another theory seems more likely.

Apple may have settled on hammering price and availability as plus points over a big spec bump precisely because of all those rumoured component issues and parts delays, scrapping the hot new features and keeping this as almost an “iPad 1.5”, with a more formidable step forward coming later this year.

Whether forced or deliberate, such a move makes a lot of sense. This kind of spec bump is unlikely to keep the iPad 2 going for a full year, and of course a release around September or October would be perfectly timed for the Christmas rush.

For now, though, Apple has done a surprisingly good job considering most of us tech journalists have been predicting a let-down. For what we forgot – and Apple didn't – is that there's no substitute for focusing on simple consumer spending issues when releasing what is ultimately a mass-market product.

The iPad was already selling well, and now suddenly within weeks you'll be able to get an even better version of the same thing for the exact same price. Or get the previous model for £100 cheaper.

Compare it to its rivals and the iPad is almost universally cheaper, will be available sooner, and offers an attractive, lifestyle-friendly buying option that doesn't get bogged down by its similarity to an army of near-identical clones offering almost exactly the same set of features.

That doesn't mean it's a better tablet, of course, but whoever said the most successful product out there had to be the best?

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jimbob21  Mar. 3, 2011 at 14:20

The advantage I see to Apple coming out with a new tablet is that its competitors will have to come out with better Android products to compete. That means I still don't have to buy an Apple product. :)


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