Apple officially announced the iPad 2 and iOS 4.3, ending months of speculation. The new updates are bad news for a lot of other gadget manufacturers, not just tablet makers.
More than 15 million iPads have been sold already. It was the fastest selling gadget in the history of gadgets. That’s not bad at all for a category of products that most people didn’t know they wanted or needed just a year ago. Tablet PCs and other slate devices have been around for the better part of a decade, but Apple invented the tablet in the minds of most consumers.
Apple even poked fun at the competition, splashing their logos on stage during the iPad 2 unveiling. Steve Jobs has reason to be confident in Apple’s new mobile lineup.
Here’s what I think the introduction of the iPad 2 means to the world of mobile computing:
iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom:
The battle is over before Apple’s even sold a single unit. Motorola simply won’t grab a meaningful market share unless it drops the price of the Xoom dramatically, even after it adds 4G LTE to the mix. The Motorola Xoom only has 10 more days until the iPad 2 lands right next to it on store shelves.
I purchased the Motorola Xoom a week ago when it went on sale and have enjoyed using the device. While I really like the Xoom, especially how it handles Google services such as YouTube and Gmail, I wouldn’t trade it in for the iPad 2. If I were a ‘normal’ consumer in fact, I’d pay the $70 fee and return it to Verizon. The Motorola Xoom costs $599 with a two-year wireless contract and $799 without.
The Motorola Xoom is still incomplete and most consumers won’t want to deal with the hiccups, such as a non-operable microsSD slot, lack of Flash and the Xoom’s 4G upgrade hassle.
Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha will probably be very disappointed to see the Xoom’s sales reports from today forward. As I mentioned yesterday, Jha downplayed the threat of the iPad 2 to the Xoom at a conference. I don’t expect Motorola to issue a press release claiming outstanding Xoom numbers any time soon.
It is a good device and definitely fills needs not met by the iPad 2, but most consumers aren’t even going to look at the thing before buying the iPad 2.
iPad 2 Apps vs. Android 3.0 Apps:
Motorola’s rightfully claimed that the Xoom is more powerful than the iPad. That’s was accurate with regards to the original iPad, but now that the iPad 2 has a dual-core processor and other goodies under the hood that’s debatable. But to most consumers that kind of geekery doesn’t matter. What matters is apps. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t enough apps to go around on Honeycomb tablets as of today and little incentive for app developers and game publishers to focos their efforts on Android 3.0 instead of on iOS 4.3 and the iPad 2.
As Steve Jobs pointed out earlier today, Apple has more than 200 million registered Apple account holders. That’s 200 million potential customers spread across iOS and OSX devices. How many registered Xoom owners are there out there ready to buy an THD app? Very, very few.
As I pointed out in my review, the selection of tablet apps for my Xoom is pitiful. There’s a total of 16 free and paid apps as of today. Where would you put your efforts if you were a developer?
iPad 2 vs HP TouchPad
As we’ve pointed out before, the HP TouchPad has perhaps the best tablet user-interface of any tablet device out there. Unfortunately, the HP TouchPad is a long ways out. Any attention that was drummed up when the product was released and showcased at the Grammys will be overshadowed by the iPad 2 excitement. HP’s going to have to introduce the TouchPad and WebOS all over again when it releases the TouchPad this summer.
iPad 2 vs. Tablet PCs
With a faster processor and new capabilities in the iPad 2, there’s even fewer reasons to pick up a Tablet PC. The Tablet PC was already a niche product before the iPad was introduced and I expect the Tablet PC to be shoved into even a darker corner. I’ve enjoyed using Tablet PCs and there are some key advantages to using a full-fledged Tablet PC instead of an iPad 2, but things are changing fast.
Tablet PCs will of course still be more durable and run full-fledged Windows applications. Many will continue to be designed to stand up to the rigors of field work. Companies like HP, MobileDemand and Lenovo will continue to serve customers that demand a full Windows experience while standing on the go, but Apple will begin eating into that territory as well when more robust apps are released.
iPad 2 vs RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
The RIM BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to go on sale on or around April 10. That will give the device a little breathing room from the iPad 2, but RIM shouldn’t take its corporate BlackBerry subscribers for granted. Fortunately, the introduction of the iPad 2 and iOS 4.3 does not further threaten the Playbook’s core messaging and synching features any more than the original iPad and iOS 4.2.
Many big companies and organizations that love their BlackBerry smartphones will take the obvious path and buy PlayBooks, but that won’t be the case for all of them. There are countless software vendors out there making it easier and easier to integrate iOS devices into the enterprise. Big giant companies such as Salesforce.com and SAP are becoming iPad-centric in the tablet realm. RIM needs to move aggressively and quickly.
iPad 2 vs. MacBooks and PCs
You do need a Mac or PC to setup the iPad 2, but people will be able to do much more with the iPad 2 than with the original iPad. This means they’ll find themselves reaching for their laptops in frustration much less. Want to edit a quick video of the kids? They’ll just do it on their iPad 2’s rather than transferring them over to their computers.
The killer feature of the iPad 2 is its battery life – the same 10 hours we saw in the original iPad. This is the single biggest reason people will use the iPad 2 in more places and more often.
iPad 2 vs. Gadgets in General
One thing that geeks often don’t talk about is money. All of us have limited supplies of it, much to the chagrin of consumer tech companies everywhere. The economy is still sailing through rough waters and a lot less people are willing to splurge on gadgets. Like many other Apple products, the iPad 2 has the ‘gotta have it’ appeal to geeks and consumers alike. The iPad 2 will take a $499 to $829 bite out of shoppers’ gadget budget. That’s money that would’ve been spent on HDTVs, laptops and other gear just a year ago.
Last year the iPad topped the most-wanted Christmas gift lists. We can expect to see the same this year and I’m sure there will be millions of iPads bought for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduation season as well. I would not be surprised if Apple sold well over 15 million iPad 2 units in 2011.
iOS 4.3 vs. Novatel MiFi and Other Hotspots
Now that the iPhone 4 will support wireless tethering there’s even less reason for iPhone owners to carry Novatel MiFi hotspots. Wireless hotspots are a godsend and very appealing since new models feature 4G speeds, but they’re expensive due to their wireless contracts.
I for one will be retuning my Sierra Wireless Overdrive and pay the extra cash for the hotspot feature if (and this is a big if) it proves to be fast and reliable.
One major thing holding me back from guaranteeing a move to the wireless hotspot is battery life. The iPhone 4 doesn’t last me a full day as it is and using it to power my laptop’s Internet connection would drain it even more quickly.