breaking news

iPad 2 finally launched, but without several expected features

March 3rd, 2011 | by Alfred Siew

They should call it iPad 1.5, said a pal of mine, of Apple’s iPad 2 featuring an “all-new design”. Other detractors called it “underwhelming”, while yet others said it was “evolutionary, not revolutionary”, but that’s putting things nicely.

The truth is, after all the rumours and usual hoopla surrounding Apple launches, what characterised the new tablet computer from the market leader seemed to be what’s not there. So, what was so disappointing about last night’s launch, where Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance?

Let’s start with what’s new. Okay, the iPad 2 is slimmer and lighter – two main things that will win over many new buyers, for sure.

Then it’s got a dual-core processor and dual cameras now, which would have been quite a big deal if these features hadn’t already been unveiled months ago on the Motorola Xoom and soon on just about any Google Android to hit the stores this year.

But what is most disappointing is what’s not there on the iPad 2. First, the much-expected upgrade to the sharp “Retina” screen that is now on the iPhone 4 doesn’t make its way to the new iPad. It’s still the same old screen, at the same 9.7 inches.

What about LTE and 4G, new mobile technologies that would have boosted downloads for videos and other apps, some of which are in several dozen megabytes and currently require a Wi-Fi connection on the iPad? Nope, not there either.

This is the year of the iPad 2, claims Apple, but we’re not so sure. Yes, the iPad 2 stands up well to competition from Android tablets this year, because it’s an enhancement of an already well-made product.

But what Apple hasn’t done is address a lot of grouses. The new iPad is still stuck with iTunes and doesn’t have external memory card slots. It still needs a PC to sync, as one gadget site writer pointed out sharply in a Tweet:

“‘The iPad is a true post-PC device.’ First thing you have to do when you turn on an iPad? Hook it up to a PC.” – Dave Schumaker of gdgt.

Sure, there’s an Apple add-on to get the pictures off your camera to the iPad, but that’s US$29 for the hardware. Want to hook up to your TV to play your movies? Pay US$39 for an AV dongle.

Some folks will still fork out those amounts, simply because they can afford it. Others will say they do it because they love their iPads. But the difference from last year is that there are good alternatives now – you don’t have to do things Apple’s way.

New Android tablets out this year will not just come with memory card slots built in but also HDMI ports to hook up straight to your TV, so Apple looks more like a rip-off to folks who refuse to play by Steve Jobs’ rules.

At the same time, the iPad’s iOS looks increasingly dated when compared to the rich multi-tasking you can get on competing tablet OSes that have been shown so far, say, on Android Honeycomb or RIM’s Playbook.

To be fair, the iPad 2 should sell well and keep Apple in pole position in 2011. It had a headstart of 90 per cent of the market last year, according to research firm Ovum, which also predicts that Google Android won’t lead the market until 2015. That’s when Android’s share would be 36 per cent, compared to Apple’s 35 per cent.

So, is 2011 the year of the iPad 2? I think those who have held back from buying an iPad would go for the iPad 2 now, since it costs the same (from US$499) as the older model and looks like a good deal.

But will the new device be “magical” and “revolutionary” and rock your world? It’s telling when the rumour mill is already going on about an iPad 3.

8 Comments

  1. Chi-Loong says:

    @Julian

    Ok, ok, noted. 🙂

    Perhaps Aaron can be our token Apple boy since he’s a proud iPhone user. Maybe Raymond as well — don’t know where he stands on this. 🙂

  2. Julian says:

    The way it goes sometimes I think techgoondu needs an Apple person to bring some balance to the site.

    Anyway personally I think that having the best UI or doing away with itunes may not necessarily be thing that win users over. In fact UI wise its practically a wash amongst android and iPhone just like Windows and Mac and Apple knows that. Personally I think that ease of use, simplicity and being able to use it straight out of the box trumps having the best screen, fastest processor or expendability. And don’t discount the apps. Having an app that other friends use or for what you want to do helps as well. Sometimes the intangibles are important.

    And since you all seem to agree that the iPad2 will sell well especially to the converted I guess the more important point to look at is how well it attracts new users to the platform. And looking at iPhone vs Android market share iPhone has remained steady which means that Android has been taking share mostly from Rimm and others.

    http://mashable.com/2010/11/02/iphone-android-nielsen/

    So how that translates to the tablet market is anyone’s guess. At the end of the day the market is the most democratic indicator of success. If sales to new users increase then what more can anyone say or do but give grudging admiration to what Apple has wrought.

    In fact looking at the iPad Death Watch its kinda ironic but you can see some early detractors of the iPad eat their words or slowly but surely change their tunes. Guys like Joe Wilcox Betanews, Paul Thurrott, Dan Wayne apc mag, Fred Wilson VC, John Devorak, Fiasco Awards……

  3. Terry says:

    Congratulations. Your comments have been immortalized in the iPad Death Watch.

    http://aaplinvestors.net/stats/ipad/ipaddeathwatch/

  4. Pingback: Apple and Google tops Fortune's Most Admired list | Techgoondu

  5. Chi-Loong says:

    Ok, disclaimer time.

    Alf is definitely not an Apple fan, so if you’re an Apple fan(atic), nothing he says will sway you from the One True Device That Will Save Puppies And Bring About World Peace.

    Obviously I’m not an Apple fan either, and fall more on the open source/Android side of things. Neither are some of the other goondus (Gin notably) so to be fair we should disclose our biases. 🙂

    That being said, the iPad2 will sell well to the converted, just by the change in a niftier form factor/weight. Just look at the slavering madness in news/blogs tracking this thing, and the jump in Apple’s stock price when the device was launched.

  6. Conch says:

    Alfred, you are the embodiment of the little boy in, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” You are the first writer to paint the true picture of the iPad’s release, explaining the shortcomings in hardware and OS, and explaining what iPad owners, both new and old, are missing in their uninformed purchase.
    Kudos, sir. Kudos.

  7. Charles says:

    All you complaints are kind of reminding me of what we heard regarding iPhone: no card extension, no 4G, no LTE, needs iTunes, etc…

    Who cares?! what good have these features brought to Nokia, HTC?
    Only geeks like us (and some marketing people who like long list of ticks) may care.
    Where is the LTE/4G network? where are are low power chipset for those features?

    Yes iPad2 is only incremental: why should Apple release some revolutionary feature to a market leading product?

    Once the Xoom is out, then we will see how it does in the real world.
    (and we will see whether the Xoom HDMI port can auto rotate and scale pictures correctly).

    Attention to details is more important than feature list.

    • Alfred Siew says:

      I know what you mean, Charles, and I agree. I think the iPad 2 will sell well – it’s just that others have caught up and are offering just as good or even better alternatives.

      As to whether specs/features are important, I think the iPhone vs Android phone market share now speaks for how opinions have shifted. In the past, people chose an iPhone over others coz it was the best UI, but now with Android, you got a nice touch UI, plus flexibility of doing away with iTunes. The choice is clear for many users. 🙂

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