Apple launches iPad 2

Apple has launched the much-anticipated iPad 2 at an event in San Francisco. Steve Jobs, CEO at Apple, returned from a leave of absence to present the product to excited crowds.

iPad 2 has so far lived up to expectations, being skinnier at 8.8mm, down from a chubby 13.4mm, and with two cameras, rear and front facing.

The device runs on the new version operating system, iOS 4.3, which gives it funky new features on AirPlay for applications, and improved Safari performance.

The new favourite machine of the tech savvie is speedier than the first iPad with duel core processors to almost double the CPU performance. Additionally, that upgrade makes graphics work nine times faster.

iPad 2 has the same battery life as the original iPad, of 10 hours.

iPad 2 is set to go on sale in the US on 11 March on both AT&T and Verizon, from $499. It will go out to 26 other countries on 25 March.

iOS 4.3 will be made available on 11 March also, supporting iPad, the GSM iPhone, and the third and fourth generation iPod Touch.

Apple completely dominated the tablet market throughout 2010, taking 85% of global tablet sales of 15.7 million units over 2010, according to eMarketer’s figures for last December.

Apple has had first mover advantage, but eMarketer additionally predicts that it will still hold its lead in 2011, despite all the other tablets being released, to take 78% of the tablet market’s expected 43.6 million shipments for the year. And in 2012, of 81.3 million tablet units, Apple will still hold 69% of the market.

Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach, commented: “In such a fast moving market Apple is forced to release new versions of its hardware to stay ahead. Apple clearly had first mover advantage, however, its competitors have been hot on its heals with a slew of tablet devices from big brand vendors such as Samsung, Motorola, HP, HTC and RIM, all of which have announced tablet devices which aim to replicate the Apple experience, which is notoriously difficult to match.

“Much of the early growth of the tablet market can be attributable to the Apple iPad, a device whose sales constituted 90% of the total market opportunity in 2010. The remaining 10% of shipments in 2010 was made up of devices running variants of Google’s Android OS.

“A majority of device vendors are looking to exploit Google’s latest version of the Android operating system, honeycomb, to deliver a user experience that can compete with Apple’s own iOS. However, some vendors, notably HP and RIM, are choosing to invest in their own software platforms. Ovum’s belief is that the platform dominance of Apple and Google will continue through 2011 and beyond, albeit with devices based on Google’s software platform commanding an increasing proportion of the total market opportunity,” continued Leach.

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