The next generation: Does the release of the iPad 2 mean Apple are already too far ahead?

Since going on sale in over 25 countries last month, Apple’s eagerly anticipated yet swiftly arriving tablet device the iPad 2 has sold out in many of these places, leaving waiting lists of up to 5 weeks in its wake.

The success of this device is likely to hold far greater repercussions for the technology industry than the achievements of its predecessor. Whereas the original iPad was a lone device, somewhat testing the waters of the tablet market, the success of its follow up would largely be at the expense of the numerous technology companies looking to get in on the tablet revolution.

This therefore begs the question, have Apple established themselves as leaders in the tablet market who cannot be caught?

One of the massive advantages that Apple holds over their competitors is that its current device is second generation. The importance of this cannot be understated- research already conducted by Gartner has found that more than half of existing iPad owners will upgrade to the iPad 2. Couple this with the fact that 9 of ten consumers, (including those who don’t already own one) are aware of the iPad, and it becomes apparent that Apple has unrivalled loyalty from its current customers and unmatched awareness from those who might be in the future.

This ability to reach consumers is no doubt a reflection of Apple’s predominant focus on user experience- an emphasis that has manifested in the hardware of the iPad 2. It is thinner, lighter, features both front and back facing cameras, runs reportedly 2 times faster than its predecessor, and has graphics rendered up to 9 times faster. These changes have been made as a way of honing, rather than reinventing the iPad experience in order to reflect the desires of its consumer base. As Caroline Milanesi of Gartner puts it, these improvements reflect Apple’s “focus on putting hardware at the service of user behaviour”.

Clearly Apple knows the quality of its ecosystem and wants its hardware to support this system rather than supersede it. This is a factor of the iPad and iPad 2’s success that should be considered carefully by the device’s competitors. While allowing flash or installing a USB drive does represent a hardware inclusion not available on the iPad, these factors are unlikely to be make or brake factors in the purchase of a tablet PC.

In short, the outlook does not look good for competitors lining up for a place in the tablet market. The lengthy head start Apple have secured on their competitors ensures they are peerless in terms consumer awareness. But looking beyond this brand position, there is also an argument that for the £399 it will be retailing from in the

Categories: iPad

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