Thursday, 24 March 2011 01:47

Magical and revolutionary iPad 2: The Gathering


The iPad 2 arrives tomorrow, the 25th of March, in 25 countries with many more still to come, far faster than the iPad 1 last year, showing just how supremely confident, organised and prepared Apple is for 2011 to truly be the year of the iPad 2.

With cheaper official iPad 2 pricing in various parts of the world than the iPad 1, a 'gathering' of new and existing Apple customers is coming to buy an iPad 2 this Friday and over the weeks and months ahead.

Already, there are at least two people in line at Apple's flagship Sydney CBD store, with number one in line, Alex Glee, tweeting on location and in line to get a second iPad 2 for his sister - Mr Glee reportedly already has an iPad 2 in his possession.

If iPad 2 demand in the US over the past couple of weeks is any guide, Apple's biggest issue will be getting as many iPad 2s out as possible to a global market, even as resellers buy iPad 2s to onsell at even higher prices to meet the insatiable demand.

It is demand and supply, after all. iPad 2 prices did not rise in the US, even though the US dollar has fallen in value and inflation is hitting not only the US but the world economy.

iPad 2 prices have fallen in real and dollar terms, challenging competitors where it hurts while Apple makes profits not just on a single product or a handful, but an entire ecosystem of end-to-end products that is massively greater than the sum of its parts. 

Apple hasn't always succeeded at every endeavour, but as a company that is dealing in an incredibly complex global market, Apple is able to play on the world stage on its own terms, and as a successful company it commands a rare respect as a big, successful business.

Often successes are tall-poppied and while plenty have tried that over the years with Apple, its exponentially growing iSuccess is only speeding up, not slowing down.

Moto is reportedly ordering lower future orders of the Xoom as rumours rip of a future Xoom 2, something that is also in light on Samsung's newly announced re-created Galaxy Tab 10.1 with an 8.6mm body and iPad-level pricing in response to the iPad 2.

The Android Army is still gathering its forces while Apple's iPad 2 is already in millions of people's hands all over the world right now - and it's only been officially launched in the US and available for the last two weeks!

I can imagine a future hybrid iPad and MacBook Air, with magnetically Smart Cover-esque attachable/detachable keyboard, that could be a future iPad 4 or 5.

But from tomorrow, the iPad 2 is here and now in many more countries, on an official basis, and is the world's most capable, most versatile, most useful and most usable large screen handheld tablet.

It's no wonder it's so popular!

Another member of the Apple ecosystem is the iPod Touch .This is the pocket-size iPad mini, and if rumours of a 4-inch iPhone in 2005 are true, you'd imagine that the any new iPod Touch will have a 4-inch screen, too.

Which is already an iPad mini whatever size it is, and always was. After all, wasn't the iPad originally said to 'just be' a larger iPod Touch?

More of Apple's iThings considered on page two, please read on!

The iPad 2 is the update to Apple's original genre-defining tablet, and is part of Apple's digital lifestyle ecosystem. A successor will clearly come, but that is, in theory, a year away. The iPad 2 launches tomorrow, not the iPad 3!

UPDATE: Google News is accidentally linking to page two of my story, instead of page one - please read from page one first! Thanks and apologies - the rest of page two continues below:

The iPad 2 needs to connect to a computer, despite being a 'post-PC device'. Still, until integrated Apple cloud backup comes, Apple has designed iPad 2 to sync with and backup to and get content from iTunes loaded onto a PC or Mac.

After that you could use an iPad almost indefinitely without a PC or Mac to sync to if you wanted to, although syncing is naturally highly recommended for media transfer and desktop based iTunes content discovery. You would need to connect to a PC or Mac to upgrade to new iOS versions, too, but if you could stay on an old version for quite some time.

Clearly, 'post-PC' device refers to the way you use the iPad 2, in preference to using a PC to do the same thing. It's easier to do many things on the iPad 2 by virtue of directly holding the screen in such a natural manner, as opposed to carrying around an open notebook or netbook, or the traditional and traditionally expensive slate/convertible Tablet PC.

But while the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad are these 'post-PC' devices, it's not a 'dead-PC' world. Traditional PCs are still central to many aspects of our lives, but smartphones and now tablets take up a lot of face time that previously belonged to a computer screen, not a handheld screen.

Other parts of Apple's ecosystem include iMacs, Mac Minis and Servers, all the MacBooks, and the Mac Pros can all run and sync with iTunes content. The iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone all run and sync with iTunes content. Apple TV runs iTunes content. You can load your own digital media into iTunes and sync it, and all of these devices are easy to use and learn to master. 

The ecosystem of software and third-party accessories that Apple, developers and manufacturers has built is massive.

Palm once enjoyed a measure of this in the Palm Pilot, Palm III and Palm V heyday - even Handspring sprung up as a Palm-based competitor, and IBM had its own 'WorkPad' version of the Palm V too.

There was a ton of software, third party accessories and more. But as the platform didn't evolve under Palm's control - a fatal mistake for the line at the time. Palm had the icon interface, and while it had a stylus, it was the iPod Touch/iPhone of its day. 

Concluded on page three, please read on!

So today, we have the iPad 2, and whatever the critics do or don't say, it is a faster and better version than last time, and amazingly, it is cheaper to buy this time than last.

With billions of people on the planet yet to buy an iPad 1, let alone an iPad 2, the  majority global market of over a billion Windows PC users is an example of an achievable and beatable target, given time, leadership and execution.

The iPad 2 has officially arrived as the central piece of a developed, advanced and rich digital ecosystem of software, content, hardware, design, distribution, retail, R&D, billing and third-party support.

Apple's clearly selling all the stock it's putting in the US market, and it looks like the same is about to happen everywhere else tomorrow, and everywhere else after that.

Apple's revolutionarily magical blending of ever-evolving technology and the arts has brought forth 'the gathering' once again, but this time it will surely bring in many more new members, new to the ways of the iPad 2 and the rest of Apple's ecosystem.

It's a wide-ranging strategy that is clearly winning the hearts and minds of users, even as it generates the anti-Apple user, just as there are anti-Microsoft, anti-Google and anti-other tech company opinions and beliefs too.

Still, while it clearly appears impossible to keep all of the people happy all of the time, Apple does appear to have massively more users in the happy category than the competition on virtually all fronts - it's a wonder their strategies aren't better copied and where possible innovated even further upon.

Apple's massive multi-platform, multi-device, multiple types of content ecosystem is what every other company is up against, and it's the reason why cheap Chinese Android tablets just haven't made it it.

They certainly are shaping up, but Apple's momentum on all fronts is strong. It's been said the iPad is more like the iPod, rather than the iPhone, in how it will deal with competitors - at least in 2011, of which most is still in front of us, to be followed in 2012 by the iPad 3.

Buckle up, it's going to be quite a ride!



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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