The truth about yesterday's iPad 2 launch is that it didn't matter. Seeing Steve Jobs on stage looking like a CEO, on the other hand, was huge.
But don't take my word for it. In the minutes after Jobs appeared on stage to introduce Apple's
That's understandable. Jobs has long been the visionary underlying Apple's groundbreaking products. His uncompromising standards have led to multibagger returns for longtime shareholders.
But give Apple and the iPad 2 their due. A new dual-core A5 chip design adds a lot of speed, if you believe the reviews flying around the web as I write this.
"This thing is insanely fast. We're not joking -- it's blazingly fast. Everything the iPad 2 does feels like it's on turbo," wrote the good geeks over at Engadget, who also liveblogged the event.
And while Jobs wouldn't specify how, Apple also said it figured out how to reduce the thickness of the device by 33% while preserving the battery life of the earlier version.
Apple also gave the iPad a facial and a software makeover. Users will be able to choose between black and white models when the device hits stores in the U.S. on March 11. A new cover, meanwhile, mimics the Mac's power cabling by using magnets to attach to the device. Pull it open, and the iPad 2 automatically awakens. Close it, and the device goes to sleep. A new iOS (version 4.3) and upgraded editions of iMovie and GarageBand, to be sold for $4.99 apiece, complete the package.
Jobs pitched it as a compelling alternative to a new crop of fast tabs based on Google's
"Now some folks are out there saying they're only a little bit more expensive than us. When you look at this matrix, five of these six are less than $799," Jobs said, a clear reference to the $799 Moto wants for its Xoom tablet. Ouch.
In short, it was Jobs taking a break from medical leave to do what he does best and the clearest example of why investors were thrilled to see Mr. Showmanship back on stage where he belongs. Welcome back, Steve. We missed you.
Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about the new iPad and the return of Steve Jobs to Apple's stage using the comments box below. You can also rate Apple in Motley Fool CAPS.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google and has written Apple puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy has its eye on you.