Folks, we had an unfortunate malfunction in our blog infrastructure here at Dow Jones, but we’re back on the scene.
Fortunately, there was nothing at all going on this afternoon.
Apple’s (AAPL) media event in San Francisco has been underway since 10 am, Pacific, 1 pm, Eastern. Sadly, I was not able to attend, but several smart folks have been covering the event live, including my friend Eric Savitz over at Forbes, and the folks at Engadget, who did a bang-up, smashing job as usual. Bravo, guys and gals.
Apple’s shares are up $2.90, or 0.8%, at $352.21. And how are the tablet competitors faring this afternoon? Motorola Mobility (MMI) stock is down $1.04, or almost 4%; Research in Motion (RIMM) is down 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $66.19; Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) is up 49 cents, or 1%, at $43.40.
Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new version of the iPad, and surprised many by saying the device would ship on March 11th, sooner than the April availability one would have presumed based on last year’s iPad roll-out. The machine is priced the same as the old one, despite plenty of new bells and whistles.
Jobs came on stage at the open, leading to a standing ovation. He kicked off with a discussion of the company’s iBooks store, with 100 million downloads of books “in less than a year,” and with the announcement that Random House is going to be offering 17,000 titles through the store. Random House had been the one major publisher that held off on iBooks, but word came out Monday the company had finally agreed to go by the “agency” pricing model for books that Apple has been pushing.
Jobs said the company had surpassed 200 million accounts across iTunes, the App Store, and iBooks, making it the “most accounts with credit cards anywhere on the Internet,” he said.
Developers, Jobs noted, had earned a cumulative $2 billion selling programs through the App Store, Jobs said.
Moving to the iPad, Jobs said the tablet computer had sold more than any other tablet computer ever, at 15 million units, and that competitors had been “flummoxed,” especially by the device’s low price.
Jobs dubbed 2011 “The Year of the Copycats” as regards competing tablets, though he later reversed course, saying this will be the year of the “iPad 2.”
iPad 2 features a custom processor, the “A5” chip, running twice as fast as the “A4″ design in the first iPad, with 9 times faster graphics, and the first processor using two CPU “cores” to “ship in volume,” Jobs said. (Motorola’s “Xoom” tablet is first to market, but reports are it may be struggling to sell, so far.)
As widely speculated, the device features cameras on the front and back, and a gyroscope like that featured in the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The iPad 2 is a third thinner than the original model and thinner than Apple’s iPhone 4, at 8.8 millimeters versus the iPhone 4′s 9.3 millimeter thickness.
It is also lighter than the existing model, at 1.3 lbs versus 1.5 lbs for the first iPad.
Again, as speculated, the iPad 2 will come in not just the existing black finish, but also a white model, Jobs said. To much applause, Jobs said that the white version would ship “on day one,” in contrast to the repeated delays in the white model of the iPhone 4, that was expected last summer but still has not materilized.
Jobs said Apple was keeping the same price range for the new devices, ranging from $499 for a 16-gigabyte model with only WiFi connections, on up to $829 for the 64-gigabyte model with 3G.
Jobs showed off a new cover, in cloth and leather versions, that attaches to the iPad via magnets, and that can be peeled back to automatically wake the iPad.
The latter part of the presentation focused on the next release of the iOS operating system that runs the iPad, iPod, and iPhone, the “4.3″ release. Apple’s software director Scott Forstall took the stage to talk about some of the improvements, including faster performance of the Safari Web browser. The software also adds a “Personal Hotspot” feature to the iPhone 4 to allow it to share its Internet connection over WiFi with other devices.
Forstall showed off FaceTime video conference on the iPad, and also the company’s “PhotoBooth” program for taking pictures, and Jobs returned to the stage to announce the company would be offering a version of the iMovie program for the tablet, similar to the app offered currently for the iPhone, but with more extensive features. Jobs also said the company would bring its GarageBand music program to the iPad. The iPad’s built-in accelerometer can be used to simulate real-world instrument aspects, such as changing the force on a keyboard displayed on screen.
Jobs finished the presentation with a manifesto laying out how competitors were missing the mark:
It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology is not enough. It’s tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it’s the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are pos-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive.
Article courtesy of Tech Trader Daily