iPad 2: Jobs calls rivals copycats, dismisses tablet wars

New iPad a third thinner than the original iPad, even thinner than an iPhone 4.

The iPad 2 is finally here (well, actually shipping March 11). The tech industry, which has been keeping a sharp eye on the rise of the disruptive tablet, as well as making smart predictions about the iPad 2 for months, was pretty much on the mark. The iPad 2 runs faster and sports two cameras.

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The iPad 2 runs on a 1GHz dual-core A5 processor that delivers up to twice the speed of the CPU and nine times faster graphics in the original iPad, Apple says. Despite these improvements, battery life remains the same as the original iPad, 10 hours, according to Apple.

The new cameras are pretty impressive, too. The front camera can record VGA-resolution video and take photos at 640-by-480. The back camera can record HD video at 720p at 30 frames per second and has 5X digital zoom in camera mode.

There were a few surprises, too, such as an ailing Steve Jobs coming out on stage.

But the biggest news of the day was just how slim the iPad came in and the fact that Apple was able to keep the same price as the original iPad.

Everyone figured the iPad 2 would come in lighter and slimmer, but this much is incredible: a third thinner than the original iPad, even thinner than an iPhone 4. The iPad 2 also shaved off a couple tenths of a pound, weighing in at 1.3 pounds compared to 1.5 pounds of the original iPad.

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Apple answered iPad customers' number one complaint in such a dramatic way that it catapults the iPad ahead of the competition. Sure, Apple could have really revolutionized the form factor with, say, a flexible screen, but that's really not what tablet customers were asking for.

Leveraging its supplier relationships and demand forecasting advantage, Apple was also able to keep iPad 2 prices the same as those of the original iPad, starting at $499. This severely undercuts the iPad's closest competitor, the newly released Motorola Xoom, which starts at $800. (A case can be made, however, that the cost of a Verizon-subsidized Xoom with a two-year data contract is comparable with an 3G iPad over two years.)

While Apple didn't announce a dramatic price reduction of the original iPad, much like it did with previous model iPhones during the debut of the latest iPhone, Apple's online store began offering a clearance sale for the original iPad. The starting price for the original iPad is now $399.

Given the iPad 2's slim size and low price, it's unlikely that any tablet maker can come close to the entry-level iPad 2. Armed with this advantage, it's no wonder Jobs took the stage and came out swinging, calling iPad rivals copycats and squashing notions of a coming tablet war.

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Tom Kaneshige

CIO (US)
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