The second the iPad was released in April 2010, talk started about what the second generation would have: would it be bigger, faster, thinner? I do have to stop sometimes and just take in what we are talking about - it really wasn’t that long ago that the idea of a tablet really was only seen when Captain Picard signed to say his ship was still his and that the date was correct on the tablet.
The iPad sold 3 million units in just the first 80 days after its release. To put this in perspective, this total is three times what the iPhone sold in its first quarter. It has been estimated by research firm iSuppli that by the end of 2011, the iPad will have sold 36.5 million units. At this rate it is set to pass gaming hardware and the mobile phone to become the 4th biggest consumer electronics category with estimated sales of more than $9 billion in the U.S next year. TVs, smart phones and notebooks are the current three largest categories.
It took five years for the DVD player to reach the same unit sales that the iPad reached in just its first quarter, according to Bernstein Research.
Don’t believe the hype
Speculation, conjecture and hyperbole abound when it comes to guessing what hides behind the black silk cloth, which discreetly covers the next iPad. With the massive growth of Apple over the last ten years, the hype around future product releases has not only become more prevalent but also far more difficult for Apple to hold on to. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not that naive to think that Apple doesn’t release through various shady channels and discreet conversations over coffee with key media representatives, little tidbits here and there, with the sole objective of starting the viral rumours. However, a trend that is now becoming very popular is for the Chinese Manufacturers of either Apple accessories (like the cases for iPads) or those which manufacture key pieces in the hardware that makes the product up, release or leak pictures of their product which inevitably gives away information about likely additions or functionality to the next Apple Product. You can’t blame the companies - lets face it, if you owned a company and Apple signs a deal with you to produce, say all the screens for the iPad, you’re going to be jumping up and down for joy, along with hearing a Cha-Ching noise in the background. On the other side of that coin though, lays the cynic in me that says that Apple, as part of their contract with said company, surely restricts them from releasing any information about the product without prior consent.
Apple iPad 2 Spec
So what does the new iPad look to be made up of? Will it be the thing I’ve been waiting for all my life? Will it fix all of my IT problems? Will I covet it like a kid on the other side of the counter at Krispy Kremes? Will it make me a cup of tea? Well, probably yes and no. The current generally agreed additions to the new iPad 2 will be a thinner screen and thinner housing, therefore making it lighter (a complaint and target of criticism by its competitor the Kindle). The other items discussed are the front and rear facing cameras. They are a given, with the launch of Apple’s propriety FaceTime software, it makes perfect sense for the iPad to fully utilise this technology. It will also deliver it into businesses with greater ease; complicated video conferencing is now placed on a very dusty shelf in the top of a dark, dank cupboard. Its replacement, the iPad, is easily portable, requires no tech knowledge, it just fits.
The next addition is more RAM. It is likely to be bumped up to 512MB, the same as the current iPhone 4 (although did you hear the new iPhone 5 will allow you to teleport? I wonder how long that will take to go viral!). This should make the typing seem even snappier (it does sometimes feel like there’s currently a bit of a lag, especially if you can type quickly).
There will also be a new processor. The current iPad uses Apple’s own designed chipset called the A4, which is specifically designed for mobile devices. The next generation that sports ‘go faster stripes’ is probably going to be called the A5 and will consist of a dual core processor, which will allow the iPad to keep up with the new, more advanced apps. Such apps tend to be graphic intensive and the processor will not only improve the performance of the iPad whilst using such apps, but also, make the IOS quicker in its everyday tasks.
The tablet will follow the same footsteps as the process, which digital media (such as music) followed in its evolution. One minute it was all about the CD, then a little thing came along called ‘the iTunes Store’ and the digital music store was born. And yes, there are hardcore music enthusiasts out there that say ‘Oh the quality just isn’t the same’, and then there’s the rest of the population that says ‘So I can download that album or song without having to trawl down to HMV?’ and ‘My entire CD collection fits on this tiny little device and if I delete it I can just go back and recover it?’ Clearly, the benefits to digital music are plentiful.
The tablet is going to do the same thing to the concept of a book, and possibly the notebook. Being able to store thousands of books on one small device, that allows for much more interactivity, without the need to lump around a large bulky item, is a very strong selling proposition and with the added bonus of being able to perform a plethora of other functions from surfing the internet, to sending emails and even drawing pictures, make it a very hard concept to ignore.
A school in Scotland is already providing iPads to each of its pupils, removing the need for pen and paper. With pupil engagement greatly increasing since the swap over, the school and many other educational bodies, are looking closely to see how it has improved on exam results. So the education system can see the immediate benefits. But, they are not the only ones.
If you pay a visit to Gordon Ramsey’s exclusive restaurant, ‘Claridges’, you can now sit down and while contemplating whether to go for that really rare piece of ham where the pig was fed only fresh caviar for 5 years or the Haddock and chips (because you know it can’t just be Haddock and chips – it’s got to be something more) you can browse through their very extensive wine list, which is conveniently housed on an iPad. Here, you can read details on the region and vineyard it came from, what it embodies and how that particular wine will change your life forever if only you just tried it…and shed out that couple of hundred quid. This once again demonstrates a great way of utilising the technology to deliver a greater user experience (I went with the Haddock and Chips).
Its invasion into various media is becoming more and more prevalent; a notable example recently involved Jake Humphrey from the BBC’s F1 programme. One week he’s chatting to Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard and referring back to his notes on his clipboard, about an email he got from a Helen in Surrey, the next race, he’s still talking to Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard, but this time, he’s not holding a cheap plastic clipboard with various bits of notes attached to it, but rather an iPad which allows him to comment directly on email questions received live and comments from the followers on Twitter. I’m sure that messages from the production team, along with notes and live news from other sources also appear on the iPad. For a broadcaster, this is now an essential piece of kit and I have no doubt you will see this small device permeate more and more into our media providers.
With the advent of the iPad 2 (and its additional functionality making it a more rounded product), it will make an even stronger argument as to why you should buy one. Design agencies such as Zulu Creative can see very useful applications for an iPad, such as in meetings with existing or potential clients. By being able to present your portfolio on an iPad or present a project to a client with Keynote adds massive value to the process and is sure to impress.
Love it or hate it, the iPad is here to stay. You may have noticed that there are quite a few competitors (such as Google, Samsung, Microsoft) now gathering a good head of steam to grab a piece of this ever-expanding market. The key to individual success will be price point and usability and this is one thing that Apple does very well and others attempt to imitate. By being first to the market, and by nailing very efficiently the interactive software; already certain user commands are taken as the industry standard. Things such as pinch to zoom and swipe are simply irrefutable. Apple has quickly established itself as the market leader and everyone else is playing catch-up.
So, by April this year, we’ll know how accurate I was and whether Apple kept something up their sleeve to surprise us all. This is the future happening right in front of our very eyes and if you blink, you’ll miss it and you’ll be left wondering why you appear to be asking a bloke in a posh swivel chair, on what looks like the bridge of a Starship, if he can sign your iPad confirming he knows it’s his ship and it’s today’s date.
Cue Star Trek Music!