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The iPad 2 May Sell Well, but It'll Still Be a Disappointment

Apple (APPL) is going to present the iPad 2 on Wednesday, but the announcement is guaranteed to disappoint critics, analysts, and consumers alike. Unlike its groundbreaking predecessor, the new iPad is up against three issues: Too much hype, limited improvements over the current iPad, and heavy tablet competition.

Too much hype
Apple has an intense following by both customers and the media, but, as my BNET colleague Erik Sherman noted last week, the Apple hype machine seems unusually aggressive in stoking the flame. First, there are a surprisingly large number of rumors about the capabilities of the iPad . Second, there is an equally large number of scuttlebutt on when the iPad 3 (not 2, but 3) will be arriving -- and it could be as early as this fall. Sherman believes that there are too many rumors for Apple not to be behind some of them, saying "Apple is a wily company and makes great use of intentional press leaks and product announcements to distract attention from the competition."

If Sherman is right, the question is whether Apple can successfully create a smokescreen against its competitors without confusing its potential customers. A good (or rather, bad) example would be Nintendo (NTYDO), which announced its upcoming 3D console right before releasing its less-powerful 2D predecessor. Apple should steer clear of the games and just focus on the iPad 2 from here on out.

Not enough change
The second problem is that, unlike its competitors, Apple will not turn the iPad 2 into a jack-of-all-trades machine:
It will be a lighter, faster, camera-equipped version of the iPad you likely already have. It will not blow you away. As usual, Apple's focus will be on creating a smooth, stable environment, and, like the iPhone 4, will probably not implement any revolutionary changes until a later model.

This is not a bad thing, but anyone expecting some jaw-dropping iPad revelation on Wednesday is delusional. The most remarkable thing that could happen would be for Apple to make the iPad 2 available immediately, which could actually happen.

Lots of competition
The iPad is facing its biggest lineup of rivals yet. In fact, this time last year, it had no relevant competitors.

Any specs given on Wednesday will be compared to several tablets, including:

Will their powerful engines and open architectures sway people from buying the iPad 2? Probably not, especially if the iPad 2 is available in March. However, is it reasonable to expect a lot of unfulfilled wishes on Wednesday's announcement, and perhaps a lot of complaining about the the iPad 2's limitations once it is released -- just like the iPhone 4.

Photo courtesy of manarianz5 // CC 2.0