First, yes, CEO Steve Jobs is giving the Apple (AAPL) iPad 2 product announcement. Good to see that he's well enough to do so. But with that out of the way, let's look at the important nuggets from the announcement. Two themes jumped out at me from the beginning.
One was Apple's apparent need to crush perception of any potential competition. That says quite a bit about the importance of the tablet category to Apple and how concerned it is about Google's (GOOG) latest version of Android -- and possibly about the partnership between Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK).
The other was Apple's notable focus on corporate use of iPads, which could further drive sales and drop further roadblocks in the way of competitors.
Apple vs. the Competitive Collective
Jobs immediately started taking potshots at what you might call the Competitive Collective: 15 million iPads sold last year -- "more than every tablet PC ever sold," as he said. Interesting to see the slant to the comparison, as tablet PCs wouldn't include Android devices and, to date, have generally been specialized vertical market business units. Jobs also emphasized 65,000 apps tailored for the tablet interface.
As Jobs went through the numbers, his emphasis on the corporate market was almost palpable. His presentation was peppered with with references to enterprise apps and how the iPad is changing both medicine (an important vertical market Apple has tried to woo) and the enterprise. (Although my BNET colleague Damon Brown thinks that the iPad 2 still falls short of corporate needs.)
iPad's power features
To open more of a gap from competitors, Apple is leaning on some power features:
- a more powerful dual-core CPU, Apple's own A5
- graphics up to nine times as fast as the iPad 1
- front- and back-facing cameras, an important feature for videoconferencing -- a big plus for the corporate audience
- significantly thinner and lighter than the original iPad, though still sporting a ten hour battery life
- an external HDMI connector that works with all apps and also display rotation, so people can show the screen on a big monitor for presentations
- a cover that folds back into something to prop up the top of the iPad
Aggressive? Yup, to push off the competition. Apple no longer has the field to itself, and it's now in a footrace with its rivals.