iPad 2 is here, ahead of the Android posse

The iPad 2 and its alternatives will open up the tablet market, not stifle it

A chart comparing the iPad 2 to the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, HP TouchPad, and RIM Blackberry Playbook.

A chart comparing the iPad 2 to the Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, HP TouchPad, and RIM Blackberry Playbook.

We didn’t have to wait long in 2011 for the second-generation iPad to arrive. As expected it’s an incremental improvement over its predecessor, but will it be enough to keep Apple ahead of the impending Android tablet tide?

I won’t claim there is a “tablet war” brewing, as the whole tablet market is still emerging (one could say mushrooming!) and consumers are still discovering new uses for them, but I can’t ignore the rabid competition there will be as a result of a slew of Android tablets in the making.

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It’s early March so by April the iPad 2 should be generally available throughout Apple’s retail channels. This gives everyone else the rest of the year to make the most knowing there won’t be another iPad until 2012 at the earliest.

Innovation and copycats

Is the iPad 2 a leap ahead in innovation above its parent? Probably not if you consider the launch marketing campaign includes a lot of attention around iOS 4.3, which will run on everything from an iPhone 3G S.

It has a lot of incremental improvements and the user experience is claimed to be a lot better thanks to a hardware refresh, but it can hardly be revolutionary.

Some say Apple hasn’t done enough with the refresh which delivered “no surprises”.

Years ago someone (a Mac user) said to me: “You never buy first-generation Apple anything.”

It’s not that first-generation Apple products are bad. Quite they contrary – they are too good!

Since its resurgence from the doldrums before Mac OS X a decade ago, Apple has continued to push the bar of what high-technology it can squeeze into its products. It recently became the first notebook vendor to offer Intel’s Light Peak interconnect technology, for example.

Couple that custom-developed software and you often get first-generation products from Apple that are certainly “different” and “innovative”, but not necessarily robust or having standard features.

Standard features seen in many Android devices but lacking on the iPhone/iPad is USB ports and memory card slots to use simple examples.

The iPad 2 is a good example of how the second-generation Apple product is more refined and better value for money than the version 1 trailblazer – and they’re only 12 months apart.

With the flood of tablets coming onto the market, Steve Jobs threw out the word “copycat” referring to alternate tablet devices.

If you wanted to get technical you can say iPad-like, touchscreen-only tablet devices have been around long before the iPad.

Linux and Windows-based, rich content smartphones preceded the iPhone as well.

What Apple has done is build the best ecosystem of hardware, software and content, which makes it portable devices so compelling.

I wouldn’t say Android tablets are copycats, the same way the wide variety of Android phones are not rip offs of the iPhone.

Android will bring a level of diversity to the tablet market that Apple won’t match.

There will be multiple sized Android tablets with vary specification that can cater to varying use cases.

The tablet market will be being to “open up” in 2011 even if the iPad remains the benchmark device.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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