Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) new tablet is prettier and -- you guessed it -- thinner. But why would you upgrade your old iPad to the iPad 2?
We have to apologize to Apple. We diligently followed the introduction of the iPad 2, but here at ConceivablyTech we cannot quite follow the message that the iPad 2 is even more magical than the first generation of the product.
If I understand Steve Jobs correctly, the key reasons for buying the tablet are:
- Two cameras.
- A dual-core processor.
- Color options.
- 60,000 iPad apps, iOS 4.3, and GarageBand.
- No one else can build a decent tablet.
We would love to agree with Apple and Apple analysts that this new product elevates your dull browser clicking to heavenly Web browsing, but we think the iPad 2 may be an iPad 1.5 that doesn't deserve the second-generation name. The iPad 2 simply delivers updates that are no-brainer features for any tablet -- but it delivers them on a level of quality we did not know Apple was willing to compromise on. We believe that Apple may shoot itself in the foot with the iPad 2 and that if Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) , Motorola, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , and Samsung are finally willing to learn, then there is every opportunity to outshine the iPad 2 this year.
If we remove the Apple smokescreen for a moment, we realize that the iPad has an awful camera system, consisting of a bargain-basement VGA camera in the font and a 720p camera in the back, which delivers only 960×720 resolution -- or about 0.7 megapixels. Look forward to those snapshots on your fancy high-res desktop display. Perhaps the camera is the reason Apple skipped the retina display for the iPad 2. There is also no USB or SD port and no 4G wireless option. And, of course, Flash isn't supported, which -- despite Apple's pitch that Flash is dying -- still makes up a large portion of interactive and animated Web content. HTML5 will not be finalized until the 2014 timeframe, so get used to those empty plug-in fields in your browser, while you remember that Steve Jobs tells you that it's good for you. It's a sense of freedom, in the end: freedom from an evaporating Web format, in the same way that Jobs mentioned that the lack of porn on the iPad is a form of freedom -- freedom from porn.
With an adjusted mindset, you can agree to almost anything.
So, as pretty as it is, why would you reasonably buy an iPad 2 -- because you prefer it over the original iPad, which is now cheaper and does everything the new iPad 2 can, minus the crappy camera? Can we call the iPad 2 just an iPad 1.5? If you own an Android phone, the reasons for buying an iPad 2 may be even less, as we are continuing to see platform synergies between Android phones and tablets as well as Chrome OS.
Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) screwed up its Xoom launch with a price that was as silly as the iPad 2 upgrades. However, HP may have a good shot to pitch its tablets especially, if webOS will be available on PCs as well. There seems to be a serious approach to rival Apple, and RIM's PlayBook may also have a chance to reinvigorate the BlackBerry platform.
We saw a similar scenario nine years ago, when Apple updated its first-gen iPod and every other MP3-player maker was busy copying Apple and was incapable of seeing and setting trends. We eventually ended up with a brown Zune from Microsoft that was a clumsy brick with a crippled Wi-Fi feature. The industry had more than six years to look at the iPod, analyze it, and advance it to something much better. Yet it was Apple that drove the segment forward with the iPod touch in 2007. You can't tell me that just Apple has the talent to predict such industry trends.
We have seen Apple leading portable-computing trends since 2001. Its marketing and consumer loyalty keep the company virtually invincible most of the time. However, the company is vulnerable occasionally -- especially when it sits on a high horse, pitches minor advances as earthquakes, and pushes marketing that challenges the acceptable limit of truth. In the iPad 2 announcement presentation, Steve Jobs presented (perhaps accidentally) a false quote of a Samsung executive and has not apologized since. Interestingly, it is Samsung that manufactures Apple's A4 and A5 processors. You can't tell me that such actions will remain unanswered.
The iPad 2 is vulnerable. The key weaknesses of the original iPad have not been fixed. Apple's magical tablet may be more vulnerable this year than we believe.
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