The iPad 2 is a compelling product but it was Apple CEO Steve Jobs' role at the launch and his championing of a post-PC agenda that made everyone sit up, says Seb Janacek.
The unveiling of the iPad 2 in San Francisco was overshadowed by the appearance on stage of Apple's CEO Steve Jobs, who is officially on medical leave.
He took to the stage to tumultuous applause, looking much as he has done for the past couple of years, belying the wild online speculation about his supposedly deteriorating health.
Apple's share price surged suddenly on his appearance and his declaration about having something great to announce - but it could have simply been relief that he was still vertical. "We've been working on this product for a while now and I just didn't want to miss today," he told the crowd.
iPad 2's hardware improvements
The iPad 2 announcement held few hardware surprises. It is thinner, features a couple of cameras and comes in two colours: black and white. This time, the white version of an iOS device will be available from day one, Jobs joked.
One of the key phrases of the event was "post-PC" product and much of the talk both at the event and in the accompanying videos was about moving beyond the traditional computing model.
Apple designer in chief Jonny Ive talked about the greater efficiency of working with tablets, while Jobs reiterated the company's marriage between technology and the liberal arts - technology alone didn't cut it, argued the Apple chief.
The stats bear repeating. Jobs said the company has just shipped its one hundred millionth iPhone. Meanwhile, the iPad sold 15 million units in 2010 raising $9.5bn in revenues. Jobs added that most of Apple's revenues now come from post-PC products. The beginning of the end for the Mac?
2011 - year of the iPad imitators
Meanwhile, the Apple CEO lost little time in ripping into competitors. He described 2010 as an exceptional year of the iPad, but predicted 2011 would be the year of the iPad imitators.
Jobs even went as far as displaying a slide with the logos of Android, BlackBerry, HP, Motorola and Samsung along with the statement '2011: Year of the copycats?'.
CES featured over 80 new tablet devices and the platform has rapidly become fiercely competitive. While not inventing the tablet computer, Apple has certainly lit the touchpaper to launch the so-called third category between smartphones and laptop PCs.
Fittingly, the event included the announcement that...