iPad 2 with Smart Covers
Steve Jobs announces the iPad 2 in San Francisco

Apple's iPad made a pretty big splash when it hit the market last year (15M sold in 2010). It arguably brought tablets to the mainstream consumer market despite claims from many that it was nothing more than a large iPhone/iPod touch. Apple has laughed all the way to the bank as iPad sales have ballooned to make it one of the most lucrative segments of its business ($9.5B in revenue for 2010).

Today, Apple is looking to build upon the success of its first generation tablet now that the competition is finally catching up (see Motorola Xoom) and none other than Steve Jobs was on hand to announce the iPad 2. The iPad 2 doesn't deviate very far from the original formula, but it does add a few notable advancements over its predecessor including: 

  • Dual-core A5 processor which is supposedly 2x faster than the previous generation A4 while keeping the same power profile
  • Graphics performance is up to 9x faster than the first generation iPad
  • 33 percent slimmer profile (13.4mm cut down to 8.8mm) with tapered edges and a flat back
  • Weight is down to 1.3 pounds from 1.5 pounds
  • Dual cameras (rear and front-facing)
  • Built-in gyroscope
  • Battery life stays the same at 10 hours
  • It will be available in both black and white 
  • Screen resolution stays the same at 1024x768

In a move that was foreshadowed late last year when Verizon began selling iPads bundled with its MiFi portable hotspots, there are versions of the iPad 2 that will work on either Verizon or AT&T’s wireless networks.

Pricing for the iPad 2 stays the same as before (starting at $499) – storage capacities also haven’t budged (16GB, 32GB, 64GB). The iPad 2 will launch March 11.

Perhaps more interesting than the iPad itself is the new Smart Cover that Apple is debuting with the iPad 2. Available in multiple colors, the Smart Cover attaches to the iPad 2 with magnets and folds down to cover the screen, or can fold back to allow the iPad 2 to be used standing up.

The Smart Cover will wake the iPad 2 when you open it, and put the iPad 2 to sleep when you close it (obviously taking advantage of the new proximity sensor). It will be priced at $39 for the polyurethane version and $69 for the leather version. 

Other things to take from the Apple keynote: 

  • Random House is bringing 17,000 titles to iBooks
  • 100 million books have been downloaded
  • ITunes/App Store/iBooks has a combined 200 million users
  • Apple has handed out over $2 billion USD to App Store developers
  • 100 million iPhone have been sold
  • iOS 4.3 will be available download on March 11
  • First-gen iPads will be available with a $100 discount from now until supplies are dried up

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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